[Top 5] Best Hard Drive Recovery Software 2020

Hard drives fail. And they may fail or stop working at any moment. It’s unpredictable unless you actively monitor your hard drives’ SMART and health status. On average, traditional hard drives survive three to five years—depending on the usage.

Best Hard Drive Recovery Software

90% of hard drives last for three years and 80% for four years. (Based on failure rates of 25,000 running hard drives)

According to the Backblaze – a cloud backup service provider

Graphic by BackBlaze

Did you know: 100,000 hard drive fail a week in the United States.

Common Causes of Hard Drive Failure & Data Loss

A hard drive commonly fails, crashes, or become inaccessible due to various logical errors caused by software and hardware related issues, human errors, mechanical failure, or physical damage—leading to data loss.

Data loss from the hard drive may also occur due to accidental deletion or formatting, which is more common.

Data Loss Causes

Why You Need a Hard Drive Recovery Software?

A hard drive recovery software comes handy when you accidentally delete your files or format your hard drive. When a backup isn’t available or obsolete, a data recovery software helps recover lost and deleted data from all kinds of Windows-based hard drives and other storage media.

Think of a data recovery software as an ‘instant-backup’.

A reliable hard drive recovery software also features additional tools and options that help you recover data from a lost or deleted partition and RAW or corrupt (inaccessible) hard drive volumes. It also helps you restore files from heavily damaged hard drive with file-signature based scan, also known as ‘Deep’ or ‘Advanced’ scan mode.

A few hard drive data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery comes with Drive Monitor utility that actively monitors hard drive’s vital stats such as temperature, health, performance, and SMART status. It warns the user when it detects a problem with the hard drive and provides an option to clone the failing disk—thereby helps avoid data loss due to disk-related errors.

Stellar Drive Monitor

How Does Hard Drive Data Recovery Works?

When data is deleted from a hard drive, the OS removes the file index entry from the Master File Table (MFT). The deleted data remains on the drive and can be recovered—unless overwritten.

Similarly, when a hard drive is ‘quick’ formatted, the MFT is overwritten—not the actual data—with a new file system index table. And thus, the data can be recovered from a formatted drive.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Stop using your hard drive or any other storage media after data loss to avoid overwriting. If deleted or formatted data gets overwritten, it can’t be recovered through any data recovery software or service.

In the case of RAW or inaccessible drive, the file system gets corrupt. Thus, OS can’t read and load the disk content. Again, data remains on the disk and can be recovered with the help of a data recovery software. Read more about RAW hard drive recovery.

A hard drive recovery software retrieves these unlinked files and information from the disk by scanning the existing file system for deleted file entries or by scanning each sector of the hard drive in case of formatted and corrupt hard drive partition.

However, it’s a bit difficult to recover data from a RAW drive and formatted volumes (requires Deep Scan) than recovering deleted files.

Which One to Choose: Hard Drive Recovery Software or Service?

You need a hard drive recovery software when data is lost due to logical errors such as file system errors, formatting, drive corruption, and accidental deletion. If your hard disk is recognized and detected in the ‘Disk Management’ tool, a hard disk recovery software can help you get back data from the disk. If the drive isn’t detected, data recovery software may not work.

In such a case, you should reach out to a hard drive recovery service expert for professional data recovery help.

What to Look for in Hard Drive Recovery Software?

While choosing the best hard drive recovery software, consider the following parameters,

Ease of use

The software should be fast and easy to use. It should be backed by proper documentation, knowledge base, and support. Plus, it should not require extra tools or hardware to get back your recovered data from a hard drive.

Scan Modes

The software should have ‘Quick’ and ‘Deep’ (extensive or advanced) scan modes. Quick scan works for deleted file recovery. However, you need to run advanced scan mode such as ‘Deep Scan’ to recover data from a RAW and formatted hard drive.

Supported File Types

The software should support all major file formats. Find out if the software can recover the file format(s) that you lost from your hard drive. That way, you will save on the extra cost of purchasing an upgrade or new software for your specific files.

TIP: Look for the data recovery software that allows you to add new file types for data recovery. These hard drive recovery software can recover virtually any file type.

Supported Disk Types (File System)

Make sure the hard drive recovery software supports the file system of your hard drive. For instance, a Windows-based hard drive is generally formatted with the NTFS file system. But Windows also supports exFAT and FAT32/FAT16 file systems. So if you need to recover data from a Windows-based hard drive, download a Windows hard drive recovery software.

Lost Partition Recovery

A good hard drive recovery software should support lost partition recovery. Partition loss on a hard drive isn’t uncommon. A partition or volume may get lost due to logical errors caused by malware or virus, improper usage, unplugging drive while disk in use, etc.

RAW Recovery

Hard drive corruption is common, especially with external hard drives. Thus, a reliable hard drive recovery software should natively support data recovery from a RAW or inaccessible drive.

Bootable Data Recovery

Bootable data recovery feature helps you to recover data from a crashed Windows PC and system that fails to boot due to hard drive or other software and hardware related errors.

Other Features

  1. Disk imaging: To create a backup copy of your failing drive & recoverable data.
  2. Pause and Save scans: To resume or continue data recovery later from where you left off as per your convenience and time.
  3. Preview files: Display recovered files before saving and identify required files even if the file name is missing.
  4. SMART Status & Disk Monitoring: To avoid data loss in the future due to hard disk related errors with early warning signs.

Free Updates

Before purchasing, do check if future software updates are free or paid.

Based on the above parameters, we found that Stellar Data Recovery is the most easy-to-use Windows data recovery software and performed exceptionally well in our hard drive recovery tests. It can recover virtually any file format from any Windows-based hard drive, including formatted hard drive, RAW volumes, and deleted hard disk partitions. Plus, you can create bootable data recovery media from crashed PC and recover files from BitLocker encrypted or password-protected storage media.

R-Studio also did well but is built for power users. Below are a brief review and a comparison of the 5 best data recovery software available for Windows.

1. Stellar Data Recovery Professional

Stellar Data Recovery Professional is the easiest to use data recovery software for Windows to recover data from all kinds of Windows hard drives, SSDs, SD cards, eMMC, and USB thumb drives, etc. The software supports several hundred file formats and allows you to add new custom file formats for data recovery.

Plus, it facilitates data recovery from encrypted storage media. The software comes with a ‘Drive Monitor’ option that monitors the hard drive for errors and actively reports vital disk stats to the user. This helps avoid data loss due to imminent hard drive failure.

SDR Pro

Features:

  • Recovers virtually any file format, including documents, emails, archives, photos, videos, and more.
  • Supports all kind of Windows storage media.
  • Recovers from formatted and inaccessible (corrupt) hard disk volumes.
  • Retrieves data from lost or deleted hard drive partitions.
  • Features dual scan modes—Quick scan & Deep Scan.
  • Previews recovered files.
  • Creates bootable data recovery media for crashed & non-booting Windows PC.
  • Recovers from BitLocker encrypted storage media .
  • Recovers data from damaged, partially written and scratched optical media (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray).
  • Option to Disk Image and Disk Cloning for secure data recovery.
  • SMART drive monitor actively tracks hard drive health.

Price:

The software is free to download. The demo version allows you to explore the software features and scan your affected storage media or PC for data recovery. There is a free version also that allows you to recover up to 1GB data for free.

If you are satisfied with the scan results, save the scan information and get the license key for $79.99. Activate the software and load the saved scan information to resume saving the recovered data.

>>Download Stellar Data Recovery Professional Software

2. Recuva Professional

Recuva Professional is the most affordable data recovery software that can help you recover lost and deleted data from Windows-based hard drives and other storage devices. It also supports data recovery from damaged (corrupt) hard drive partitions. You can use the software to recover documents, emails, photos, videos, and archive files.

It also features a secure file eraser option to erase sensitive data beyond recovery by using military-standard deletion techniques.

Recuva data recovery

Features:

  • Lightweight and fast.
  • Recovers lost and deleted documents, emails, archives, photos, and videos.
  • Recovers data from Windows hard drive and other storage devices.
  • Recovers from formatted and corrupt hard disk volumes.
  • Dual Scan Modes—Quick scan & Advanced (Deep) Scan.
  • Recovers from Virtual hard drive volumes.
  • Preview files before saving.

Price:

The software is free to download. The free version can recover unlimited files from Windows hard drive. The Professional version costs $9.95, unlocks features such as virtual hard drive recovery, faster hard drive recovery with auto-updates, and support from Piriform.

>>Download Recuva Software

3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

EaseUS is another powerful and reliable Windows data recovery software with extensive file system support. You can use the software to recover data from almost all kind of Windows and Linux storage media.

It can recover data from formatted drives, raw volumes, and missing hard drive partitions.

The software supports 1000+ file types with no option to add new or custom file types. After data recovery scan, you can preview the recoverable files. Plus, you can pause and save scan information and load it later to resume data recovery.

EaseUS data recovery software

Features:

  • Recovers all types of documents, emails, archives, photos, videos, and more.
  • Supports data recovery from Windows, Linux, and Mac hard drives.
  • Option to Disk Image for secure data recovery.
  • Facilitates RAW data recovery from formatted and corrupt hard drives.
  • Dual Scan Modes—Quick scan & Deep Scan.
  • Free lifetime technical support.

Price:

The software is free to download. The demo version allows you to explore the software features and scan your affected storage media or PC for data recovery.

If you are satisfied with the scan results, save the scan information and get the license key for $79.99. Activate the software and load the saved scan information to resume saving the recovered data.

>>Download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

4. Disk Drill

Disk Drill is a reliable Windows data recovery software that also supports data recovery from Linux (EXT) and Mac drives (HFS+). The interface is neat, and the software is easy to use. You can recover data from all kind of storage media devices such as hard drives, SSDs, SD cards, etc.

It also offers data protection features such as Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery that adds an extra layer to Recycle Bin. It keeps a copy of the deleted files on your PC and helps you recover those when you need them, even if the Recycle Bin is emptied.

Disk Drill Software

Features:

  • Recovers more than 200 different file types.
  • Option to save scan information for later use.
  • Previews files.
  • Multiple scan options: Quick and Deep Scan.
  • Supports data recovery from the disk image (ISO).
  • Options to filter scan results for quick recovery.
  • Features ‘Recovery vault’ and ‘Guaranteed Recovery’ that helps prevent data loss.

Price:

The software is free to download. The free version allows you to recover up to 500MB data for free. To recover more than 500MB data, you can get the Pro version for $89 that unlocks advanced data recovery features and offers unlimited data recovery from Windows hard drives.

>>Download Disk Drill Data Recovery Software

5. R-Studio Data Recovery

R-Studio is one of the most powerful data recovery software for Windows. However, it’s made and targeted for power users, professionals, and IT experts. It offers several advanced data recovery features that help you recover data from all kinds of Windows, Mac (APFS), Linux, and Unix (BSD) storage media, including the ReFS (Resilient File System).

R-Studio is the most comprehensive data recovery software that also allows you to recover data from a broken and failed RAID array. It facilitates raw recovery for formatted and corrupt hard drives and RAID devices.

R-Studio also features a SMART monitoring tool, Pro Hex Editor, and an emergency version—a bootable version of R-Studio data recovery software.

R-Studio Software

Features:

  • Recovers all major file format such as documents, emails, archives, photos, videos, and more.
  • Supports all kind of Windows, Linux, Unix, and Mac hard drives & other storage media.
  • Recovers from formatted and corrupt hard disk volumes.
  • Retrieves data from lost or deleted hard drive partitions.
  • Emergency Version to recover data from crashed & non-booting Windows PC.
  • Recovers from damaged RAID 0, 1, 4, 5, & 6 arrays.
  • Recovers from non-standard and nested RAID arrays such as RAID 10, 1E, 5E, 5EE, 6E.
  • Recovers data based on file-signatures from heavily damaged storage media.
  • Option to Disk Image for secure data recovery.
  • Supports recovery from optical media.
  • SMART monitor actively tracks hard disk health.

Price:

The software is free to download. The demo version allows you to scan (unlimited) and preview recoverable files. To save recovered data, purchase the R-Studio activation key for $49.99.

>>Download R-Studio Data Recovery Software

Data Recovery Isn’t Guaranteed!

Data recovery from a hard drive isn’t guaranteed as it depends on several factors. If the system doesn’t recognize the drive, your hard drive may be heavily damaged and unreadable. In such a case, not even the best hard drive recovery software can help. Reach out to a data recovery service expert for help.

Also, if you continue to use your hard drive after data loss or formatting, chances are you may not get back all your files. If you want to maximize the chances of successful data recovery from hard drive, immediately stop drive or system usage after data loss. Use drive monitoring utility to monitor disk health and vital SMART stats.

Most importantly, do not try to open the drive or experiment. That will make data recovery much harder, even if you reach out to a data recovery service expert later.

Before You Attempt Hard Drive Recovery

Hard drive recovery is a sophisticated task. It involves several checks, analysis, and precautionary measures to successfully recover lost data from a hard drive.

Follow these pro tips after data loss to ensure maximum data recovery from your hard drive:

  • Stop using the affected PC or hard drive immediately after data loss.
  • Immediately check your backup for lost data and restore.
  • In case the backup isn’t available or obsolete, use a reliable data recovery software to recover lost files from internal or external hard drive.
  • Before using data recovery software, always check the disk health and SMART status.
  • Create an image of your drive. In case the drive fails, you can use the disk image to recover lost data.
  • Avoid running CHKDSK scan. While the scan may fix the hard drive corruption in some cases, it can also do more harm to your lost data by reallocating the bad sectors.
  • Never install a hard drive recovery software on the affected hard drive volume. Use an external storage media and select it as install location while installing a data recovery software.
  • If you hear screeching or clicking sounds from the hard drive, immediately clone it or image the drive.
  • Check your hard drive for physical damage. If the drive isn’t recognized, check the cable and connectors.
  • Never attempt opening the drive if the system does not detect it. The drive is probably damaged and may require data recovery service.

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