We’ve all experienced data loss at least once in our computer using lifetime, whether we’ve deleted or lost an important file, by accident or when we formatted our hard drive and maybe forgot to back up. But all is not lost. There are programs out there developed for the exact purpose of restoring your lost files/data.
Here is a list of the best ones you can use for free:
- Recuva. It is a recovery program launched by Piriform, the same company that developed CCleaner. This software can help you recover files stored on various devices: drives (including external), CDs, DVDs, USB sticks.
Recuva has an advanced deep scan mode that helps you find files that are missing or you’ve deleted and can recover data from damaged or just formatted files. Recuva is very easy to use and it works on both NTFS and FAT
- Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Pro. This program can help you recover pretty much any file type and it does have a free version, although it is not as complex as the paid one. The free version lets you scan your computer and recover up to 1GB of deleted/lost files, with a limit of maximum 25MB/file. If you just need to get back a few files such as images or a video, the free Live Preview of the Stellar will do. Otherwise, if you want all the bells and whistles, you have to pay $59 for the full suite or $79 for the Deluxe package. Luckily, the amount is quite justified given the complexity of the program. The program is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 and with macOS. Stellar Data Recovery can help you recover data from various storage devices: drives, USB sticks, memory cards and even smartphones
- Pandora Recovery Disk Drill. This program is one of the most user-friendly out there, so users who aren’t tech savvy by any means, will be more than pleased to use it. The program is compatible with both Windows devices and Apple ones, and, moreover, Mac users can use it to recover unlimited data from their OSX device at no charge.
In addition to being very straightforward, Pandora also displays a percentage next to the files you are trying to recover. The percentage represents the success rate, meaning how many chances you’ve got to actually recover that specific file. Pandora is very complex, being able to work on FAT, exFAT, NTFS, HFS+, EXT2, EXT3, EXT4 drives
- PhotoRec. Although its name might make you think less of it, this software is not just good at recovering photos. On the contrary, it is capable of retrieving various file types, around 500 to be more exact. PhotoRec works on Windows and macOS and it is open source, meaning it’s free. Its only problem is its interface, which is not as easy to grasp as with other similar programs, so if you’re not that into computers, you might need some help in the beginning
Other free programs you can try, that only work on Windows, are Undelete 360, Wise Data Recovery and Restoration.