Pandora Recovery: Your Personal Data Recovery Mentor

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Best Windows Data Recovery Software Solutions

View all • Windows

3.84

Top choice

Price range $89...$598 • CleverFiles

The Windows version of Disk Drill empowers regular users to reliably recover all kinds of lost data with a few simple clicks. Read full review

3.08

Price range $49.99...$899 • R-Tools Technology Inc.

R-Studio for Windows is a powerful data recovery software application, but regular home users may struggle to master it and put its capabilities to good use. Read full review

3.01

Price range $69.95...$499 • EaseUS

Easy to use and capable of delivering solid results, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is good at what it does. Read full review

Best Mac Data Recovery Software Solutions

View all • macOS

4.27

Top choice

Price range $89...$598 • CleverFiles

Disk Drill for Mac combines ease of use with excellent data recovery capabilities and many extra features that greatly increase its overall value. Read full review

3.02

Price range $89.95...$499 • EaseUS

Thanks to its generous free data recovery limit, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac is worth trying despite its shortcomings. Read full review

2.84

Price range $79.99...$899 • R-Tools Technology Inc.

There’s a good reason why R-Studio for Mac is loved by professionals, but regular home users have different priorities. Read full review

Best Professional Data Recovery Centers

#1 SalvageData

Top choice

This provider of global data recovery services has a documented success rate of 96% thanks to its state-of-the-art facilities and highly experienced engineers.

#2 ACE Data Recovery

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACE Data Recovery is among the most trusted data recovery centers in the country, expertly recovering data from all storage devices.

#3 Ontrack Data Recovery

Since its foundation in 1985, Ontrack Data Recovery has been a leading data recovery center, performing around 50,000 recovery jobs every year.

Pandora Data Recovery Review Process

Watch our short explainer video to understand the Pandora Data Recovery review process and how it enables us to produce the most trustworthy data recovery software reviews.

DIY Data Recovery vs Professional Data Recovery Services

DIY Data Recovery

➕ There’s no shortage of DIY data recovery software applications that make it possible even for regular home users to recover lost data.

➕ Some data recovery software applications are completely free or at least offer free preview capabilities.

➕ In most situations, the recovery process should take less than hour from start to finish.

➖ Even the best data recovery software can’t recover data from physically damaged storage devices.

VS

Professional Services

➕ Well-equipped data recovery professionals can repair physical damage to recover data from devices unreadable by software.

➕ Many reputable data recovery services don’t charge money unless they actually deliver at least some results.

➖ Professional data recovery services can be very expensive, with prices often reaching thousands of dollars.

➖ It will likely take at least several days for your recovered data to arrive from your data recovery center of choice.

So, Which Data Recovery Approach I Should Choose?

Use Data Recovery Software When Possible

Data recovery software is much more affordable than professional data recovery services (some solutions are even free!), so it should always be your first choice if money is a factor. Generally, as long as your computer can recognize the storage device you want to recover, you should be able to use data recovery software without any issues.
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Let Professionals Deal With Physical Damage

Data recovery software is the right choice in most situations, but not when it comes to physical damage. If the storage device you want to recover can’t even be connected to your computer or recognized properly, then you shouldn’t waste the one chance you might have at its recovery and send it to professionals straight away.

What Is Data Recovery?

Data recovery is the process of restoring access to data that is no longer accessible because it has been deleted, formatted, or otherwise lost.

Access to inaccessible data can be restored because files often remain physically present on the storage device long after they’ve been permanently deleted, making them impossible to open through a standard file manager.

During data recovery, inaccessible data is salvaged from the storage device and moved to a safe location. This process can be performed for as long as the data has not been overwritten or physically purged from the storage device (which does automatically happen with some modern SSDs).

Recommended Data Recovery Steps

1

Look in the Recycle Bin or Trash

Modern operating systems typically don’t resort to permanent deletion right away. Instead, they move deleted files to a temporary storage area (Recycle Bin on Windows and Trash on macOS), where they stay for some time, making it easy for you to retrieve them. To avoid wasting time and money, you should always start by checking the Recycle Bin or Trash before moving on to more complicated recovery methods.

SEE ALSO
How To Recover Deleted Data From an Empty Recycle Bin

2

Use your system backup tool

If you’ve activated your operating system’s built-in backup tool (File History on Windows and Time Machine on macOS), then you’re in luck because you can use it to retrieve your lost files without downloading third-party data recovery software or contacting data recovery professionals.

SEE ALSO
How to Restore Hard Drive from a Time Machine Backup

3

Download data recovery software

Regardless of which operating system you use, there are many data recovery software applications that you can download to recover lost data, including documents, audio and video files, emails, and more. Some data recovery software applications are geared toward professionals, but the most popular solutions tend to be aimed at regular home users with no previous data recovery experience.

SEE ALSO
Our List of the Best Data Recovery Software in 2022

4

Contact data recovery professionals

No luck using data recovery software to retrieve lost files? In that case, it’s time to contact data recovery professionals and ship your storage device to them. The best data recovery centers don’t charge their customers any money unless they successfully recover at least some lost data, and they offer a free evaluation so that you know what to expect before you commit.

SEE ALSO
Top 5 Best Hard Drive Data Recovery Services in 2022

Chances of Successful Data Recovery

accidental deletion

Accidental deletion

As long as you begin the recovery process in a timely manner, your chances of recovering an accidentally deleted file are very high. To increase them even further, use the best data recovery solution available and avoid using the device on which the file if possible. To be extra safe, you can put the device in read-only mode (SD cards make this easy with their lock switch).

recovery after file system formatting

Recovery after file system formatting

Even though formatting may seem like the ultimate destructive operation, it’s actually not that difficult to recover the original content of the formatted storage device. The only exception is the so-called secure format option (called Full Format in Windows and Secure Erase in macOS), which overwrites the original data to make their recovery impossible.

logical damage

Logical damage

The term logical damage encompasses all non-mechanical damage, including data corruption, system crashes, driver problems, and data loss caused by software bugs. Depending on how extensive logical damage is, you should be able to recover at least some lost data—if not all.

loss of information about partition

Loss of information about a partition

When you lose partition information, your operating system may become inaccessible, and your hard drive may appear to be completely empty. But when it comes to data recovery, the loss of partition information is actually no big deal because your data is still there on the storage device in its original form.

malware

Malware

Various strains of malware can cause different forms of data loss. Some simply hide files from view, while others encrypt them using an unbreakable encryption algorithm. If you get lucky and experience a less serious malware infection, then you should be able to avoid data loss entirely. However, if your device becomes infected with state-of-the-art ransomware, you may not be able to recover any data at all.

hardware failure

Hardware failure

Storage devices fail for all kinds of reasons. A broken connector on a USB flash drive, for example, can be repaired by a skilled professional without much effort, while a shattered hard drive would be too big of a challenge even for an expert equipped with advanced tools.

Frequently Recovered Devices

pc laptops and desktops

PC (laptops & desktops)

Thanks to a wide selection of data recovery software for Windows and Linux, recovering lost data from laptops and desktop computers is an easily solvable challenge even for less experienced users.

mac, macbook, imac

Mac (MacBook, iMac, etc.)

Mac users are not immune to data loss. Fortunately, most leading data recovery software applications support macOS. Just know that the applications found in the App Store are often severely limited in terms of functionality due to the restrictions imposed by Apple on their developers. You can avoid these limitations by downloading macOS data recovery software directly from its developers.

hdd

Hard disk drive (HDD)

Traditional spinning hard drives have come a long way in terms of not just storage capacity but also reliability. Still, they’re far from perfect, which explains why so many of their users are interested in suitable data recovery solutions.

ssd

Solid-state drive (SSD)

Unlike spinning hard drives, SSDs have a finite lifespan, so data loss is something all users who don’t take certain precautions will experience. The problem is that data recovery from SSDs isn’t always possible due to performance-enhancing technologies such as TRIM.

memory cards

Memory cards (SD, microSD, MMC, etc.)

Thanks to their compact size and increasingly impressive storage capacity, memory cards can be found in all kinds of devices, from digital cameras to smartphones. Unless physically damaged, they can be recovered using readily available data recovery software.

usb flash drives

USB flash drives

It would be difficult to find a more convenient category of storage devices than USB flash drives. Because of their portability, USB flash drives are formatted much more frequently than regular hard drives, which increase the likelihood of data loss, but they can be recovered using the same techniques.

android (smartphones and tablets)

Android (smartphones & tablets)

The Android operating system gives users a lot of freedom to enjoy their devices to their full potential, and this freedom sometimes results in the loss of important data. Fortunately, its recovery is possible using both native Android apps and PC/Mac software.

ios devices

iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod)

Recovering data deleted on an iOS device can be tricky because of various restrictions imposed by Apple and the way iOS in general handles file deletion. Still, you might get lucky if you use the right data recovery software, and you can always attempt to recover data from a local or cloud backup.

Data recovery specificities of different OS

Windows

FAT/FAT32

Found on many portable storage devices, from memory cards to USB flash drives, the FAT file system family has been around for a long time, which is one reason why its recovery rarely ever presents a problem.

Windows

exFAT

This most advanced member of the FAT file system family may not be as widely supported as its older siblings, but at least it can be recovered just as easily using any software that supports it.

Windows

NTFS

As the default file system of Windows computers, NTFS is commonly found on hard disk drives and solid-state drives. Despite its fragmentation issues, NTFS recovery is something most data recovery solutions handle without breaking a sweat.

Windows

ReFS

Created as a resilient file system for servers, ReFS features built-in handling of hard disk drive failure and redundancy, among other things, making data recovery easier and more likely to end successfully.

macOS

HFS/HFS+

Before the arrival of macOS High Sierra, HFS+ was the default file system on Apple computers. Deleted files can be recovered from storage devices that use HFS+ until they become overwritten with new data.

macOS

APFS

The adoption of solid-state drives prompted Apple to switch to a new file system, one that would take better advantage of their performance. To do that, APFS enables TRIM to immediately wipe deleted data, making its recovery extremely difficult.

Linux

ext2

Dating back to 1992, the ext2 file system is simple and efficient, making it great for embedded devices and various low-power computers. When recovering data from it, file names get lost because journaling isn’t supported.

Linux

ext3/ext4

Like their names suggest, ext3 and ext4 are more advanced versions of the ext2 file system, offering support for journaling. As such, it’s often possible to recover files with their original names from ext3 and ext4 storage devices.

Linux

Btrfs

This modern file system supports many advanced features, such as pooling, snapshots, and checksums, which make it more resilient and lead to improved data recovery chances.

Linux

ReiserFS

Because ReiserFS actively reduces internal data fragmentation and stores all metadata in a single, combined B+ tree, complete recovery of lost files is not just possible but likely.

Linux

JFS/JFS2

This family of journaling file systems was created by IBM in 1990, and it’s still used today by some Linux users. During data recovery, file names often become lost, but that’s the only major issue JFS/JFS2 presents.

Linux

XFS

You can expect good results when recovering data from XFS-formatted storage devices because this file system employs metadata journaling and delayed allocation, among other features.

Frequently Asked Questions

Data recovery is the use of various techniques and technical solutions to regain access to data that is no longer accessible. Data can be recovered for as long as it’s physically present on the storage device.

The cost of data recovery ranges greatly depending on the selected solution, with free data recovery software applications on one end of the spectrum and professional data recovery services on the other end.

That depends on a number of different factors, including the size and speed of the recovered storage device, the type and number of recovered files, and the selected data recovery solution. Generally, you can expect to recover data from a modern SSD using DIY software in a couple of hours at most.

You can recover your data without paying any money using free data recovery software applications or using paid data recovery software applications that offer a free trial with limited data recovery capabilities.