4 Best Tools to Recover Data From Hard Drives and Memory Cards

Contrary to popular belief, files are very much recoverable after deleting them. This applies to files deleted from your PC’s hard disk or external storage drives and devices like SD cards, smartphones, digital cameras, etc. And yes, files removed from your PC’s Trash or Recycle Bin can be recovered too. Thanks to data recovery software; these tools are life-savers. In this post, we compile some of the best data recovery software that are available for Windows and macOS users.

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When a file is deleted from your computer or external storage, it doesn’t exactly disappear into thin air. The file remains on the same disk/drive it was deleted from. What happens is that, upon deletion, the file immediately becomes (permanently) inaccessible until the space it previously occupied on the disk is used (read: overwritten) by new files. Data recovery tools scan the affected disk for missing or deleted data fragments and restore as many files as they can.

Listed below are some of the best data recovery tools for Mac and Windows computers.

1. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

The simple and intuitive interface of this software is second to none. On the homepage, everything you need to recover data from your PC’s hard drive or external storage devices is available in plain sight, right off the bat. The EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard follows a 3-step approach to data recovery: scan, preview, and recovery.

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The grouping of data into Path and Type is also brilliant. This makes it easy to locate and recover data from the original file path or by file type (audio, video, documents, email, etc.). However, you may not have to scan through hundreds or thousands of documents as there’s a search box and search filter that makes it even easier to locate files by sizes, date created, and more. Should you be unable to find a deleted file, lookout for folders labeled ‘RAW Files’ or ‘Label RAW Files.’ These are where files that lost their original names or path are stored.

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Generally, the software’s storage scanning process was quick, and I also love that you can preview data (pictures, audio, videos, etc.) before recovering them. The EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard software is available on a freemium model for both Windows and Mac computers. With the free version, you can only recover up to 2GB of data. Upgrading to a paid plan (starting from $89.95) gives you access to advanced features like data recovery to cloud storage account, data protection, etc.

Asides from PCs and memory cards, the software can also be used to recover data from audio devices (iPods, MP4 players, etc.), camcorders, etc.

2. Stellar Data Recovery

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Unlike the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, this software takes a targeted approach to data recovery. Instead of scanning your disk and drives for all deleted data, Stellar Data Recovery hands you the freedom to customize your scan for select data types. Say you’re looking to recover a video from a pen drive. You simply have to launch the app, select Videos, uncheck all other options, and perform a recovery scan. We find this really convenient and time-saving.

You can even better micro-filter the process to be a lot faster and more precise by selecting the exact file format(s) you want to recover. For example, you can instruct the tool to scan and recover videos only in MP4 formats. Or pictures in PNG format only. It’s that straightforward. Although you have to launch the app’s settings menu to make the customization.

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We found particularly interesting the tool’s support for multiple languages—English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

3. Disk Drill

Described (by the developers) as “The ultimate do-it-yourself data recovery toolset,” Disk Drill does more than just basic data recovery for hard drives and memory cards. There are dedicated in-app sections for recovering deleted files for iOS (iPhones & iPad) and Android devices. For Mac computers, Disk Drill lets you extract data from your PC’s Time Machine backup. The tool utilizes multiple recovery methods to help users recover deleted. We expand on that below.

Disk Drill has three (3) recovery methods:

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  • Quick Scan: This method is fast and ideal for recovering recently deleted files. Perhaps, files that you just removed from your computer’s Trash or Recycle Bin. We used this, and it works brilliantly. However, it is worth noting that the efficacy of this recovery method depends largely on the deletion time. For context, there’s a high chance of recovering a file you deleted 2 hours ago using Quick Scan than one deleted 48 hours back.
  • Allocate Existing Data: Use this recovery method if you can’t find files on your PC’s File Explorer (for Windows) or Finder (for Mac).
  • All Recovery Methods: This uses a combination of the two methods above to locate and recover deleted and missing data from your hard disk and external storage devices.
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You are at liberty to choose your preferred data recovery method. But when you’re in doubt, we recommend you choose ‘All recovery methods’ and let Disk Drill do its thing. Scanning your disk might take a minute (depending on how much data you have on it), but Disk Drill lets you immediately review found items, even before the scan is over. The first limitation of this software is the design of the search tool.

When you search for a file, Disk Drill doesn’t display recovered data with matching words or phrases. Rather, it only points you to the path where you’ll find the search results. I had to manually open folders and sub-folders to find files matching our search query. Other than that, every other thing worked great. The file filter is quite advanced. You can filter files by size or modification date. The filter tool also lets you hide duplicates from search results.

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Other supplementary tools that Disk Drill offers include a Data Shredder, Duplicate Finder, Disk Cleaner, etc. Like other tools on this list, Disk Drill lets you recover data for free. This takes us to the second limitation: there’s a 500MB recovery limit pegged on free usage. Paid plans with unlimited recovery start at $89.

4. Wondershare Recoverit

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Last on this list is Recoverit. Developed by Wondershare, this tool equally has everything you need to recover deleted images, videos, documents, audio, and multiple file types from your Windows PC, Mac, external hard drives, USB storage, and SD cards. Recoverit is lightweight and pretty easy to use.

The tool displays automatically-detected storage drives connected to your PC and sections them into categories on the app’s dashboard. The ‘Select Folder’ feature on the homepage lets you drill down the recovery scan to your storage disk’s particular path/folder. This is about the only tool on this list that supports such micro-recovery. A (missing) feature that would have been nice to have is the ability to scan multiple drives for deleted data simultaneously. It is also worth noting that Recoverit doesn’t save scan results.

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After scanning your storage disks, Recoverit sections detected files into file types and recovery paths/folder. The software also efficiently labels file systems and raw files so that you can easily locate files without a path. There’s also Preview support for easy file identification.

Find the Missing

It doesn’t matter if you deleted the files or accidentally lost them to disk failure or malware attack. These software are equipped to recover data from hard drives, memory cards, and other storage disks/devices. And they do so efficiently. However, it is worth mentioning that it’ll be difficult (or impossible) to recover deleted data that has been overwritten. Try any of these tools and drop a comment below to inform us of your experience.

Next up: Read the guide below to learn more about Windows File Recovery tool, how it works, what it can or cannot do, and how to use it.

Last updated on 13 July, 2021

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