The Best Data Recovery Software for MacOS of 2018
Utilities • Updated on March 12, 2018
No one likes to suffer from losing important from Mac computer or storage devices like external hard drive, digital camera, memory card, usb drive, etc.
If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to recover Mac data from Time Machine backup. Otherwise, you’ll need the help from reliable mac data recovery software.
However, Time Machine only works with your Mac’s main internal drive, so it can’t recover files that were deleted from an external drive, camera memory card, USB flash drive, or from a drive that has been damaged in some way.
And, not everyone remembers to back-up with Time Machine anyway, the built-in utility can only restore lost data unless you have a timely backup.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of superb third-party Mac data recovery software that aim to recover lost data.
We’ll take a closer look at what to know before recovery, what criteria for selecting a recovery software, as well as an in-depth review of the best data recovery software for Mac.
The basics that you need to know when using data recovery software
To ensure a safe recovery process and prevent damage to your storage device and data, follow these basic tips to improve chances for a successful recovery.
The first and most important thing to stop working on your computer immediately. You may know, further writing to the hard drive may overwrite data you are trying to recover. This includes creating new documents or even browsing the Internet.
Another thing to keep in mind that don’t install the software on the drive that has the problem, and also be sure to save the recovered files someplace other than the problem drive.
Furthermore, it is possible that deleted data can be destroyed and not recovered. Things such as an SSD having TRIM support enabled, encryption, secure erase, file corruption, etc., can prevent data recovery software from successfully retrieving lost files. For this reason, you should be able to identify that the data recovery software that will allow you to try and make sure it work for you.
Evaluation criteria of data recovery software
There are so many recovery software out there, which one can you trust with restoring your valuable files? In selecting the best data recovery software for Mac, we used the following review criteria in selecting the winner:
- Security – It’s important because any downloadable software on the Internet should not contain any viruses or malware. If the software is free of malware, the next thing is whether the software only performs read-only procedures during the scanning process. It is important because you don’t want any third-party software to write extra data to the disk drive from which you want to recover files.
- Ease of Use — The data recovery software you use should give you the tools you need to get the job done while staying out of the way as much as possible. You want to focus on scanning and recoverying, not navigating complex menus or trying to figure out basic functions.
- Recover All Types of Data – A data recovery software should be able to recover all forms of data including documents, images, audios, videos, and more. Each of these forms of data could be again in multiple formats. For example, a photo could be recovered in the form of JPEG, PNG, JPG, etc. The software should be able to recover all such types of data.
- Support Different Kinds of Storage Devices – Data are ideally stored on a system’s hard drive. However, there are various external drives like pen drive, memory card or optical drives that can be used to store data temporarily or permanently. Data loss can happen on any of the external or internal drives. In such a case, your data recovery software must be able recover data from internal as well as external drives.
- File Systems Support – Most of the recovery applications on the internet are compatible with unique file systems such as HFS and HFS+. However, if you have another file system, you should look for a recovery application that supports it.
- Preview – The good data recovery software should give you the option to preview your corrupted files before initiating the retrieval process sometimes you might spot a file that is corrupted but after restoring, you realize that it is not what you are looking for.
- Speed – Depending on the amount of data you need to recover, the scan and recovery could take a few hours to several days. It’s hard to find any correlation between scan speed and recovery percentage, but in fact a high scanning speed simply means that you’ll recover your lost data quicker, which means that you’ll be able to put this frustrating ordeal behind you sooner.
- OS X Compatibility – if the app isn’t compatible with the latest OS X 10.13 macOS high Sierra), we remove it from our list. Because the software probably hasn’t been updated for a while.
Disk Drill is a name that has been around the Mac world for a long time. The app is used and recommended by many reputable Mac users.
What’s Disk Drill?
Developed by CleverFiles LLC, Disk Drill is a powerful tool that can scan, recover and protect data on virtually any storage device, such as internal and external hard drives, cameras, iPods, USB flash drives, Kindles, and memory cards.
Disk Drill uses a variety of techniques to search and examine that old data on your drive, identify the types of files it can find, and help you recover them.
In addition, Disk Drill not only helps you recover the deleted files but can also help in partition recovery. This tool even coverage extends beyond your computer hardware as well, offering iPhone data recovery and Android data recovery options.
And finally, Disk Drill is not only about data recovery. It’s packed with some free space-saving tools, though not with as many options as a dedicated cleanup app.
Is Disk Drill safe to use?
Yes, it is safe to use. It does not contain any virus, malware or crapware, provided that you download it from the official CleverFiles website.
The app is secure as well, meaning it won’t do any damage to your hard drive regardless of the operations you perform. This is because Disk Drill performs read-only procedures and won’t write any additional data to your storage device.
What types of files/drives/disks can be recovered?
Disk Drill claims that it recovers documents, music, photos, videos, or even whole partitions that have gone missing from your computer, and with only a single push of a button, Disk Drill can ferret out and recover over 200 types of files.
Even if you’re currently having trouble accessing your hard drive or external device, HFS & HFS+, FAT/FAT32/exFAT, NTFS, or EXT3/EXT4 file systems, it’s possible to rescue data from it.
Disk Drill can work on any storage device – including internal Macintosh hard drives, external hard drives, digital cameras/camcorders, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Android devices, USB flash drives, MP3 players, Kindles, and memory cards.
Putting Disk Drill to the test
To test Disk Drill’s file recovery capability, I deleted some common files(DOC, XLS, PDF, JPG, MP3, and MP4) on my Macbook Pro two weeks prior to testing.
Upon loading Disk Drill, the application offers to enable data protection on the main drive, monitor disks for SMART hardware issues, and review and manage disk scanning results. These options are likely best for inexperienced users who wish to maximize data protection. There’s also an option to view an updated product tour.
To begin recovering files, I opened Disk Drill Pro, selected the Macintosh HD Logical Volume.
And select the Recover option, and it will start scanning the disk space for all the available data.
The Disk Drill file search offers in two levels: Quick scan and Deep scan.
Quick scan needs information from the file system. It is therefore useful when the deletion was quite recent.
Deep scan drills deeper, at binary level. It may take long, depending on the drive’s size.But it comes with a session manager that permits saving an unfinished scan, and continuing later on, without any loss of work.
I selected the most exhaustive mode, Deep Scan, to maximize my chances of file recovery.
Running a Deep Scan on my HDD was a little slower but much more fruitful. The scan required almost 2 hours, though I would add that the drive is heavily fragmented, and that I ran the utility alongside three others. The results were exhaustive. Disk Drill retrieved a very respectable 13000 files and 3580 reconstructed files.
I’m happy that I can browse all those results with Disk Drill’s advanced filtering. In addition to filtering by file type, CleverFiles lets you sort by size and modification date (see above screenshot).
I lost some file names, but I found that by sorting by file type and deletion date. Besides, the great thing about Disk Drill is we can preview small files like images, PDF, and documents by clicking on the preview button. I was able to identify originals without too much difficulty.
After I located the document I intentionally deleted, I clicked a Recover button, which prompted me to save the file to a different destination folder. I selected my desktop, and voila, I’m happy to report that I was able to retrieve all the files I had intentionally deleted.
The bigger file of 1.7GB and compressed file format (ZIP) took about 12 minutes to restore on my MacBook Pro, which is quite impressive. You can expect the same performance from video files. And a bunch of regular files like .docx, .ppx, JPEG, PNG etc takes about 2-3 seconds.
That said, for the HDD test the full recovery process was suspiciously fast, which blows the rest of the competition clean out of the water.
Free and pro versions
Disk Drill comes in two versions: free(basic version) and pro(commercial version). The basic version is for evaluation. It will allow you to scan for missing files, and then preview them to make sure they’re intact. If you’re successful, the Pro version should be able to recover the files, so your purchase won’t be wasted.
The Pro version costs $89, and allows a single user to run Disk Drill 3 on up to three Macs, adding a more comprehensive Deep Scan, the ability to search lost partitions, and rebuild catalogs on unmounted HFS+ formatted drives.
Finally, CleverFiles offers enterprise licensing (for $399), which can be installed on an unlimited number of desktops.
To sum things up
Disk Drill Pro is an excellent choice for data recovery on HDD-based Macs.
In addition to regular data recovery, it is only Disk Drill who does iPhone data recovery and Android data recovery in one user-friendly package.
Like its peers, Disk Drill won’t be of much service if your computer uses a solid-state drive, and the Windows version is less feature-rich than its sibling on the Mac (which I tested). But if you have an Apple computer with a traditional hard drive, Disk Drill Pro offers one of the most advanced data recovery utilities available.
If you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades, Disk Drill Pro’s a good option, give it a try now.
Other options we considered
Prosoft Data Rescue 5
Data Rescue 5 is the largest update that Prosoft Engineering have ever done to their flagship product. It can recover files on a drive that’s been accidentally deleted or formatted. It can help restore files from a corrupt drive. It can even clone a dying drive onto a working drive.
Once you start the app, you will find multiple methods for evaluating and recovering the data from your drive.
Data Rescue supports the full range of file systems, including HFS, NTFS and FAT.
You can even scan virtual machines, which use VMDK, VDI and VHD disk images. Advanced RAID compatibility, searchable file extensions and more round out this data recovery app.
Data Rescue can learn new file types, thanks to its FileIQ feature. By looking at healthy file samples, it can detect file patterns to locate and reconstruct even proprietary file types. This won’t work for all files, but it’s a useful tool for filling gaps in the data recovery process.
Note that Data Rescue won’t use the drive it is scanning for its working files, otherwise the files you are trying to rescue may be written over and lost forever. So when you need to recover files from your Mac’s hard drive, Data Rescue will have you choose another drive for its working files. Data Rescue rescues your data.
The software also supports recovery of hard link files and directories, like Time Machine uses. You can manage multiple scans, import and export scans between systems, skip or overwrite selected file groups, even view raw drive and file data through the Hex Viewer. That makes it possible to navigate a drive in more complex ways, like looking for a specific offset in bytes.
Data Rescue 5 is available for both PC and Mac, costing $99.00 for the Standard version. The Professional version costs $299 for annual subscription, allows you to install Data Rescue on as many hard drives as you want(opposed to the five drive limit in the Standard version), and will also give you access to more configuration options and search features in the main program itself.
Data Rescue 5 is, put simply, one of the best powerful data recovery software suites on the market today. In my mind, the only real problem that’s far too expensive to justify paying every 12 months for professional version.
Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery
We considered the Stellar Mac data recovery tool due not only its good performance, but because its lovely wizard.
The tool includes the ability to scan by file type and sort by file type when your scan finishes.
You also 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 addition to recovering data from your computer hard drive, Stellar Phoenix can pull data from external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, optical storage solutions, and even Time Machine and encrypted disk drives.
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.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac($89.95) is actually very simple to use. The first screen of the program has you place a check next to each category of files that you want to recovery.
By default, the app looks for all supported files formats. If you’re only looking for video files, you’d choose that option and leave the email, documents, graphics, videos and others unchecked.
The scan time can be controlled and results can be restricted by handpicking only specific file types to look for.
The application automatically sets the scanner’s level of “aggressiveness” and figures out on its own how thorough it should be, thus exempting you from making that decision (particularly difficult if you don’t know how the files were deleted). At the same time, it offers a separate, “deep” scanning mode.
In our tests of document recovery, EaseUS averaged 94 percent in the lost file tests, and 96 percent in the reformatted drive tests. Both recovery rates are well above average for documents, as many Mac recovery apps above struggle to recover documents successfully.
The performance is decent for recovering photos and documents in a lost file and reformatted drive scenario, but it’s well below average when it comes to recovering media files.
When restoring multiple files at once, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard keeps their original folder structure intact. We like that it works this way because it makes it easy to understand where they were before you deleted them. And it recovers many original file names, which is rare for a Mac data recovery app.
The catch? EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard can only recover a maximum of 2GB of data, after that you’ll have to upgrade to the commercial Pro version.
Still, if you’ve only lost one or two files then that may be enough. And if it’s not, you’ll at least be able to confirm that the program can see your lost data before you pay for a full licence staring at $89.95.
Many data recovery programs are very powerful, and most have thorough help files and customer support.
The success rate for a program such as this will obviously depend on the state of the drive that you use it with. However, Disk Drill Pro worked well during our tests, and you also have the option of downloading a trial version for free so that you can see if it can locate your lost files before buying the full version that you’ll need in order to fully recover them.