8 Best Hard Drive Recovery Solutions of 2020 (Paid and Free)

By Vernon Roderick, Last updated: June 15, 2020

There is no assurance that you will be able to keep your files safe if you stick to the rules. There will always be a problem you won’t overcome, and one of them happens to be data loss. It is unavoidable. It is unpredictable. And there are almost no signs that it is already happening on your hard drive. That is why it is a good idea for users to always check if there is anything missing.

This article will show you the best hard drive recovery so that you always have at least one way to retrieve your files in an event where they are lost.

Part 1: Best Hard Drive Recovery Free Edition

What is the best hard drive recovery software? There are two types of hard drive recovery software out there. The first type would be the free tools, while the second is the ones you pay money for. Assuming that you only want a quick fix, let’s start with the best hard drive recovery that is free to use.
Best Hard Drive Recovery Free Edition

#1 FoneDog Data Recovery

FoneDog Data Recovery, by the FoneDog group, is a tool that specializes in recovering all kinds of files. It is available for Windows PC and Mac, so it shouldn’t be difficult to use it on your computer, whatever operating system it runs on.

What we liked:

There are a couple of things I liked about this tool. Here’s a look at those things:

  • It can recover files in almost all situations.
  • It supports not only basic file types such as images, videos, and audio but also unknown file formats.
  • It is proven to support file recovery from storage drives such as memory cards, flash drives, and most importantly, hard drives.
  • It can recover directly from the Recycle Bin.
  • It can preview the files so you won’t mistake it with other files.

What we didn’t like:

Of course, there are some things that I also didn’t like:

  • The free version has a limitation on how large the size of the hard drive is.
  • It takes a bit long to detect your hard drive, but it goes pretty well once it does.

Although there are cons, the advantages greatly outweigh them. Truly, it is one of the best hard drive recovery you can get as of now.

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#2 Recuva

Recuva by CCleaner is one of the most popular and best hard drive recovery solutions out there, even among the paid software. It was more popular in the best, but perhaps its popularity dwindled with all the software coming in the market.

What we liked of Recuva:

Of course, one of the reasons why it was so popular was because it was free, but that’s not all there is to it. Here are some factors that made it one of the best hard drive recovery software:

  • The interface is fairly easy to use.
  • It supports most file types and file formats.
  • It has a feature that allows users to delete files while erasing the possibility of recovery, which is quite the opposite of its main function, though still helpful
  • It can preview files, especially images, though it doesn’t work on documents

What we didn’t like of Recuva:

In the case of Recuva, there are quite a few things that I didn’t like about it:

  • The tool was last updated a few years ago and is no longer receiving updates.
  • Bugs will be a common occurrence since developers have long since abandoned it

Although it’s no longer active, it is still one of the best hard drive recovery solutions. You can think of many reasons why that is so, but it should be quite apparent that it is extremely good to stay in the rankings for so long.

#3 PhotoRec

The third entry is PhotoRec which is another popular tool among experts, so if you’re a beginner, then you may not have heard of it. PhotoRec is a tool by CGSecurity and a sister tool of TestDisk, which we will be discussing later. It has quite powerful recovery capabilities, but it is a bit hard to manage. That is why it is among the best hard drive recovery solutions yet not many know of it.

What we liked of PhotoRec:

Although the name suggests that it is only capable of recovering photos, it is actually not true. Here’s a list of some of the pros I found out about this tool:

  • The performance of PhotoRec is very outstanding and can even compare to the best paid best hard drive recovery solutions out there.
  • The recovery procedure is non-destructive, meaning it avoids any damage to the files to avoid further issues.
  • It supports hundreds of file families which is quite a high number for data recovery tools

What we didn’t like of PhotoRec:

As I have said, the main disadvantage of this is that it is quite hard to use. Here are other things you may not like about it:

  • If you are a beginner, it will be extremely overwhelming at first.
  • The files are automatically recovered while the scan is initiated, which is quite uncommon and inconvenient.
  • The restored files will have their file names changed.

Fortunately, it’s not very bad if you just get used to it. Plus, it will make it easier for you to be an expert on the best hard drive recovery solutions.

#4 TestDisk

Our last entry for the best hard drive recovery free edition is TestDisk, which is the sister software of PhotoRec as I have mentioned before.

TestDisk is what you can call the ideal hard drive recovery tool. This is because unlike file recovery tools, it doesn’t focus on recovering individual files. Instead, it recovers the whole storage disk altogether.

What we liked of TestDisk:

There are a couple of things I noticed that might get you to consider this as the best hard drive recovery solution:

  • It is open-source, so the possibilities are endless as long as you install the right plugins.
  • It supports all file systems including FAT, exFAT, NTFS, and many more.
  • There are lots of advanced options that are hidden in the software.
  • It supports all operating systems including Windows, Mac, and even Linux.

What we didn’t like of TestDisk:

Despite its advantages, there are quite a few things that may discourage you from using this tool:

  • It has a very advanced interface, so it will be overwhelming at first.
  • Even more overwhelming than PhotoRec as it only has a command-line interface.
  • It can recover damaged hard drives but not the files individually.

Although there are shortcomings, it is still one of the best hard drive recovery solutions you can make use of. What’s more surprising is that they are all free.

Part 2: Best Hard Drive Recovery Premium Edition

This next section will talk about the best hard drive recovery solutions as well, but this time all of the ones in the list are paid tools. With that said, you can expect that they are a bit better than most free tools, though that might not be accurate.
Best Hard Drive Recovery Premium Edition

#1 Data Rescue 5

Our first entry for the best hard drive recovery solutions premium edition is Data Rescue 5 by Prosoft Engineering Inc. It is among the most popular tools nowadays for professionals, and by professionals I mean those that earn a lot since this tool costs around $100. Still, it can prove its worth.

What we liked of Data Rescue 5:

As you may have already guessed, Data Rescue 5 is not one of the most popular for no reason. Here are some factors that you may find very tempting about this tool:

  • The tool is available on Mac and Windows PC, though the software is separate.
  • There are quite a lot of features on the software.
  • The interface is intuitive and is easy-to-understand even for beginners.

What we didn’t like of Data Rescue 5:

There is only one thing that I didn’t like about the software:

  • The scanning takes a bit longer compared to the rest of the best hard drive recovery solutions out there including free tools

If you don’t necessarily need to hurry up with the recovery, this may be for you. Otherwise, you have to look elsewhere for the best hard drive recovery solutions.

#2 MiniTool Data Recovery

MiniTool by the MiniTool Company is something you should consider due to its various modules. There is Undelete Recovery, Lost Partition Recovery, and three more we won’t be talking about.

Either way, MiniTool is known for its capabilities of recovering from CDs and DVDs, but it is still capable of recovering from hard drives. Also, the fact that this tool has five modules is something that made it worth getting in this list of the best hard drive recovery solutions.

What we liked of MiniTool Data Recovery:

Besides the five modules there are also other things that may catch your interest:

  • It works very well in repairing SD cards and DVDs/CDs.
  • The interface is very straightforward so using it shouldn’t be a problem even if you are a beginner.

What we didn’t like of MiniTool Data Recovery:

Since it specializes in DVDs/CDs and SD cards, you can guess what its weakness is:

  • It doesn’t do well with storage drives with big sizes, but hard drives are still doable

Despite not getting built for hard drive recovery, it is still recognized as one of the best hard drive recovery solutions. This is still mainly because of the five modules.
MiniTool Data Recovery

#3 GetDataBack

You may have heard of GetDataBack from experts. That is only natural since it is the most popular and even considered the best hard drive recovery solution at one point. Unfortunately, it is only available on Windows so others may have different opinions. Either way, it has three packages which are similar to MiniTool with its five modules.

What we liked of GetDataBack:

Although there are three packages, the pros of this tool are quite the opposite of those of MiniTool. Here’s a look at the advantages of this tool:

  • It is very powerful despite having a simple-looking interface.
  • The scanning of files is very fast compared to your typical paid recovery tools.
  • The tool offers a cloning feature to duplicate the contents of your drive.

What we didn’t like of GetDataBack:

There isn’t anything bad I found about the software until I realized that it was only available on Windows. So in other words, this is the main disadvantage of this tool. Nevertheless, if you have a Windows PC, there shouldn’t be any problem of considering this as one of the best hard drive recovery solutions.

#4 CrashPlan

CrashPlan is not exactly the best hard drive recovery solution, or a hard drive recovery solution for that matter. It is more of a contingency if you want to avoid data loss altogether. CrashPlan is a tool that provides the system with the ability to store the files that are deleted in one place. That way, you will still be able to recover them even after deleting them unintentionally.

Yes, the recovery procedure is quite unique, but it is actually very effective to the point that I won’t be missing this opportunity to include it in this list of the best hard drive recoverysolutions.

What we liked of CrashPlan:

There are a lot of things I liked about CrashPlan, but here’s an overview of those things:

  • It combines the concept of creating backups and recovery.
  • It has a mobile app so you can always try to back up your mobile device as well.

What we didn’t like of CrashPlan:

Of course, there will always be a flaw in everything great, and in this case, the flaw would be the fact that you don’t have that much control over what gets backed up. In other words, you can’t choose which file types will be backed up, let alone the files that will be included. Nevertheless, it is still one of the best hard drive recovery solutions if you don’t plan on leaving any files behind.

Part 3: Conclusion

A lot of users complain about losing files when in reality, it is partly their fault for not being prepared for such a possibility. If you don’t want to be one of them, then you at least have to prepare a plan. One of the most effective plans to secure your files would be to ready the best hard drive recovery solutions. That way, you won’t have to worry about losing your files permanently.

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Vernon Roderick

Technical Expertise for PC/Website Optimization

One of my passion is to develop software of my own

I write articles to share knowledge about IT technology and some experience in developing my own software, and developing my own software is one of my passions for work.

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