These are our three favorites, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Professional
Starts at $99 for a lifetime license. Read our Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery review for the full picture.
The Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery price tag runs ahead of the most other Windows recovery tools, though is in line with the rest of our top three. However, based on our experience with it, no other tool justifies its cost as much.
We ranked this tool number one due not only its lovely wizard and exceptional performance, but because its feature list easily outpaces the competition.
You get all of the basic options you should expect from any recovery tool, including both quick and deep scan modes to recover deleted files and lost or inaccessible partitions.
In our tests, Stellar Phoenix successfully recovered all of our “accidentally” deleted files and recovered a deleted partition. A quick scan got our files back and ran in just a few minutes. Deep scans of a 518GB partition and our 1TB hard drive ran a bit on the long side compared to PC analogs put out by EaseUS and Cleverfiles, but outpaced most of the rest of the field easily.
In addition to recovering data from your computer hard drive, Stellar Phoenix do the same for external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards and even optical storage solutions.
Standout features not commonly offered include the ability to scan by file type and sort by file type when your scan finishes. While most file types are supported, you can even define new ones by giving the tool a few samples to learn from.
A couple of misses worth pointing out: RAID storage recovery requires an expensive “technicians” license and a system startup disc for non-booting machines costs extra.
If you find yourself balking at the $99 price tag, there is a home edition priced at $59.99. However, be warned that this version doesn’t support data recovery from lost partitions.
Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue PC4
Starts at $99 for a lifetime license. Read our Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue review for the full picture.
Prosoft Engineering Data Rescuedoesn’t quite measure up to Stellar Phoenix when it comes to recovery options. You can’t scan by specific file types or teach the tool to recover new file types. Also, unlike with Stellar Phoenix, you have to wait until your scan finishes to preview and recover files.
That said, this entry is still miles ahead of most other data recovery software and does do a few things Stellar Phoenix does not.
These include the ability to recover data from RAID storage devices. By their nature, RAID storage devices shouldn’t require data recovery often. They’re “redundant” to protect you from data loss; accidents, however, can always happen and always at the worst times.
Another feature not supported by Stellar Phoenix that we like in Data Rescue is that the tool lets you create a bootable USB drive. This can be used to access data on a machine when its boot partition is corrupted.
Otherwise, Data Rescue measures up pretty similar to Stellar Phoenix, as well as our next favorite option, EaseUS.
The tool lets you run both quick and deep scans depending on your needs. Those scans can be used to recover deleted data or access corrupted, deleted or formatted partitions. In addition to your computer hard drive, you can recover data from external drives, SD cards and removable media. Optical media recovery is not an option, though.
Data Recovery PC4 proved a very thorough scanning algorithm in our testing, able to recover all our test files and our test partition. Once found, you can preview everything before final recovery to make sure its what you want.
It ran a little longer than Stellar Phoenix, but not much. However, we did have some issues with significantly longer scan times without rebooting our test computer first, which is an issue we didn’t encounter with other data recovery services.
EaseUS Pro + WinPE
Starts at $99.90 for a lifetime license. Read our EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard review for the full picture.
We targeted the EaseUS Pro + WinPE license because it includes bootable media to recover data from computers that won’t start. However, if you’re okay doing without that option, buying just EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will save you $30. That price reduction might be enough reason for some to go with this solution over our top two.
The reason we ranked it third was mostly on account that EaseUS Pro can’t do a full hard drive scan. You can only scan partitions. In most cases, that’s all you need. However, on occasion it may be that EaseUS will be unable to detect a lost partition. When that happens, a full drive scan is the best course of action.
Three other features we found missing were the inability to scan by file type, add new file types and no optical storage recovery. The software itself also doesn’t support cloning, but EaseUS puts out a free disk-copying tool for that.
Beyond that, the user experience is very nice, with a smart interface that looks and feels professional. One thing that stood out is that EaseUS caught our deleted partition right away, before we even ran a scan.
The process with EaseUS is a bit different in that it automatically runs a quick scan first, then runs a deep scan. Other solutions give you a choice of running one or the other. Given that the quick scan runs in two seconds and you can browse and preview recovered files while the deep scan runs, this quirk isn’t an issue.
One area where EaseUS stands out over our top two services (especially Data Rescue) is in how easy it is to sort through recovered data. You can browse through files based on your file structure or narrow things down based on file type.
As far as additional recovery options, EaseUS supports external drive, removable media and RAID recovery, but not optical media recovery.
Overall, we also found EaseUS to be the fastest of the three top services, while performing just as good a scan.
While the tools put out by Stellar Phoenix, Prosoft Engineering and EaseUS are the ones that will appeal to most people, we wouldn’t be doing our readers justice without mentioning a few other services that might be preferable to certain users for good reasons.
CleverFiles Disk Drill
Starts at $49 for a one-year license and $68 for a lifetime license. Read our CleverFiles Disk Drill review for the full picture.
CleverFiles Disk Drill probably surprised us more than any other data recovery tool we tested. CleverFiles probably isn’t as well known in IT circles as our top three contenders because it doesn’t offer any commercial licenses. However, for most consumers, it might be just as good.
Two features missing from this service are startup disc recovery for non-booting machines, thumbnail previews and the ability to define new file types for scans. Also, you can’t pick specific file folders to scan like you can with Stellar Phoenix.
One thing we liked, though, is that CleverFiles not only gave us options to scan existing partitions, it automatically detected and let us scan our deleted partition.
Beyond that, CleverFiles presents a strong lineup of perks that includes external drive, removable media, SD card and optical drive recovery.
Wondershare Data Recovery
Starts at $39.95 for a lifetime license. Read our Wondershare Data Recovery review for the full picture.
The Wondershare Data Recoverywizard is simple but offers several great features to customize scans like the ability to scan by file type and scan specific folders. You can also choose to scan a labeled partition or pull data from the partition table to locate lost partitions.
There are a few missing features that you may or may not care about like cloning, RAID recovery and optical storage recovery. The bigger reason Wondershare won’t appeal to tech-savvy users is that it can’t be used to recover data from non-booting machines and scans take a really long time to run (13 hours for one terabyte).
Also, Wondershare doesn’t make it easy to get help desk support thanks to no live chat and slow email response times (two weeks, in our case).
Starts at $79 for a one-year license. Read our Ontrack EasyRecovery review for the full picture.
Ontrack EasyRecovery offers a straightforward recovery experience with some nice wizard features. One of our favorites was how easy it made it to sift through recovered content with file-type sorting and a thumbnail-preview mode.
The software falls short in some big ways, though, preventing it from securing a higher spot in our rankings.
For one, our deep scans took twice as long to run as the preceding options. Compounding that issue, EasyRecovery doesn’t give you an option to scan by file type. Plus, you can’t save your scan results for later later if you decide to put off recovery. Finally, EasyRecovery doesn’t come with recovery CD or cloning features.
GetData Recover My Files
Starts at $69 for a one-year license. Read our GetData Recover My Files review for the full picture.
GetData Recover My Files has the look of a powerful, polished data recovery tool designed for experts. So, we were understandably disappointed that a full scan of our one terabyte hard drive took 17 hours to complete. That’s slower than any other service we tested.
The scan got the job done, though. Options like the ability to scan by file type can cut down the time some, too, but may not be good enough for some users.
Recover My Files can be used to recover data from external drives, USB flash drives and SD cards. You can’t use it to recover data from computers that aren’t starting, though. RAID storage recovery requires a more expensive “professional” license.
Starts at $79 for a lifetime license. Read our GetDataBack Simple reviewfor the full picture.
Though not as snappy as our top three picks, GetDataBack Simple runs a reasonably fast scan and managed to recovery all of our files. The reason it ranks low on our list is because the user experience falls short compared to most recovery solutions.
Key options like the ability to scan by file type, sort results by file type and save scan results are missing. Simple also can’t run a scan of a full hard drive: you’re limited to scanning individual volumes.
Also, the interface design isn’t very intuitive, a problem compounded by distracting and clashing colors. For the cost, we’d expect something a little more polished.
Piriform Recuva Pro
Starts at $19.99 for a one-year license. Read our Piriform Recuva Pro review for the full picture.
Piriform Recuva Pro gets a lot of attention thanks to its budget pricing. While you’ll need to pay the $19.99 price for support, a free version of Recuva is available, too. However, while the pricing is obviously attractive, you do tend to get what you pay for with this recovery tool.
Several features found with more advanced tools are missing. You can’t sort scan results by file type or save scans for later recovery. Cloning and recovery from non-booting machines aren’t options, either. Also, even when you pay for Recuva, its support network is pretty shallow and doesn’t offer live help.
The primary problem with Recuva Pro, though, is that it can’t recover lost or deleted partitions. Given that partition recovery is a very important reason to spend money on a recovery tool, this is a major strike against Recuva, though it does explain the low price.
If you’re just after restoring deleted files, though, Recuva does a good job. The scans are fast and the wizard looks great. We were able to recover all of our test files and preview them before recovery.