5 Popular Professional Data Recovery Software Solutions

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Best Professional Data Recovery Software Icon

Even when your files seem gone, you usually have one last chance to save them using data recovery software. A casual search will lead to countless options. And yet, only a few are favored by demanding data recovery experts, thanks to their advanced capabilities and tools. In this article, we’ll look at the best professional data recovery software and find out what’s special about them.

Brief selection
Best Overall
disk drill windows icon
4.55
Download Free Official Website
Platform
  • macos
  • windows
Distributed asFreemium
Limitations Recover up to 500 MB for free
Price range $89...$598
2684
r-studio icon
3.88
Download Free Official Website
Platform
  • macos
  • windows
  • linux
Distributed asFreemium
Limitations Recover files smaller than 256 KB
Price range $49.99...$899
5379
ufs explorer icon
3.97
Download Free Official Website
Platform
  • macos
  • windows
  • linux
Distributed asFreemium
Limitations Recover files smaller than 256 KB
Price range $24.95...$1049.95
31970

How We Rated Professional Data Recovery Software

Testing and rating professional hard drive recovery software is different compared to reviewing consumer-level solutions. For such a task, we had to consider the extra functionality required by more demanding users.

We based the core of our analysis on the following six pillars:

  • Usability

    How user-friendly is the software under the microscope? Does it offer a straightforward interface while enabling easy access to its advanced functionality, "hidden under the hood"?

  • Deep scan and search capabilities

    Can the app we're testing successfully deal with complex data loss scenarios? Can it pull files from a hard disk drive when its "simpler" peers fail to recognize it? Are its scanning algorithms advanced enough to ensure the files "get out" in pristine condition, without parameters like their type or size affecting the result?

  • Range of supported file systems

    Can you use a piece of software with various storage devices and, more importantly, file systems, or can it only check a select few, compatible only with the OS on which it's running? Can it work with FAT32 and NTFS, but also EXT4 and HFS?

  • RAID support

    Professionals also have higher demands from their storage solutions, which often means using a RAID setup. A self-described "professional data recovery" app that can't work with multi-disk arrays, from the simplest JBOD to a complex RAID 10 setup, isn't really "professional".

  • Advanced features

    The average consumer doesn't keep tags on their storage devices' condition through S.M.A.R.T. monitoring or care for accurate backups through disk imaging. They don't deem partition management or error correction necessary, and surely won't try to "manually" recover lost data through file carving or a hex editor. Professionals, though, do require such features and more.

  • Price

    "Having advanced demands" may mean you'll have to invest in paid data recovery software, but it doesn't imply you have a bottomless wallet. For our Price parameter, we evaluate the ratio of all of the above compared to an app's asking price.

Attention

For this article we've checked five of the best professional data recovery tools. If, despite the variety of options, you still want to try out something different, we've got you covered, too: check our extensive list of data recovery software reviews for Windows or Macs.

Best Professional Data Recovery Software: Top 5 Paid Tools

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Disk Drill Logo

1. Disk Drill

Read full Disk Drill review
Platforms

WindowsmacOS

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest

Limitations

Recover up to 500 MB for free

Price range

$89...$598

Quick overview

Disk Drill is a consistently highly-rated data recovery solution catering to casual users and data management professionals. Its superpower is in how it achieves this by granting access to an advanced data recovery core through a highly user-friendly and thoughtfully designed interface.

Thanks to this..:

  • Casual users can get back their seemingly permanently deleted files by going through a series of easy-to-follow steps.
  • Demanding professionals can fine-tune the recovery process and access additional extra-useful tools.
Disk Drill for Windows – Gallery
Top Disk Drill Pros
  • Expert-Level recovery rates: Disk Drill boasts a high success rate in retrieving lost data, a claim proven by our own extensive testing, ensuring users have a reliable solution for unforeseen data mishaps.
  • Two for one: Disk Drill’s already affordable price becomes even more enticing when you realize it covers both its Windows and macOS versions.
  • RAID Array Recovery: The app can recover data from any type of RAID array you might be using. A minor exception is NAS-based RAID arrays: it can work with those, too. However, you have to directly connect your network storage to your computer for Disk Drill “to see it” and recover data from it.
  • Windows Storage Spaces recovery: Disk Drill is fully compatible with Microsoft’s software-based take on RAID, known as Windows Storage Spaces.
  • Organized scan results: Disk Drill, by default, presents its results with a typical “folder tree structure” like Windows Explorer’s navigational pane. However, it also empowers the user to only see particular groups of files based on various customizable categories and filters.
  • Visualization of the scanning process: The app presents visualizations or effortlessly readable reports whenever appropriate, communicating its status at a glance.
Top Disk Drill Cons
  • Phone Support: You can find help for every aspect of Disk Drill on its official site, and for more, support is quite zippy through eMails. However, there’s no option for real-time audiovisual communication through phone or chat services.
  • Bootable disks: When dealing with a non-booting system, you can scan its storage using Disk Drill on another computer, but not by using “live rescue” bootable media.
  • Video and photo repair: Disk Drill is purely a data recovery solution, which can salvage data that still exists on storage devices. It cannot “rebuild” or “reconstruct” missing data from files like photos and videos.
Detailed overview

How does each parameter we scrutinized contribute to Disk Drill becoming our preferred professional hard drive recovery solution?

Usability

Disk Drill is user-friendly for both casual users and professionals and turns data recovery into a straightforward step-by-step process. To avoid overloading its streamlined interface, Disk Drill tucks away, but always within a click's reach, all its advanced functionality and extra tools. So, everyone in need of getting their deleted files back can follow Disk Drill's predefined Scan-Select-Recover path. "The pros" will also be using it to keep tags on their storage devices' S.M.A.R.T. status or to grab pristine byte-to-byte backups of their most crucial data.

Recovery Performance

Disk Drill produces class-defining results, no matter the storage device or file system. The app can recognize hundreds of file types, from the ultra-popular JPG image format to the lesser-known Lightwave 3D's LWO and LWS formats. The same applies to file systems, with Disk Drill supporting all the popular ones used on most major platforms, from Microsoft's FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS, to Linux's EXT2/3/4 and macOS' HFS/APFS. Still, those aren't also limiting factors: Firstly, the app can recover all types of files, including those "it doesn't know about". Secondly, when it isn't familiar with a file system or a storage device is severely corrupted, Disk Drill can treat it as RAW and successfully recover most data.

Value

Disk Drill offers everything both a casual and a professional user would expect from a data recovery app. This, on its own, justifies Disk Drill's price, which refers to a lifetime license, not an annoying recurring payment or some service subscription. Disk Drill's extra tools and dual-platform licensing (for Windows and Mac versions) are just the cherry on top.

R-Studio Logo

2. R-Studio

Read full R-Studio review
Platforms

WindowsmacOSLinux

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest

Limitations

Recover files smaller than 256 KB

Price range

$49.99...$899

Quick overview

R-Studio was initially aimed at data recovery professionals. After a soft reboot and a significant overhaul and simplification of its interface, it remains one of their best options.

However, it’s still not what you’d call user-friendly, and its complete feature set is only “unlocked” in its pricier versions.

R-Studio for Windows – Gallery
Top R-Studio Pros
  • Available on all major operating systems: R-Studio is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux as a native app.
  • Supports most file systems: R-Studio supports the most common file systems of the operating systems it runs on (Windows, macOS, Linux) and more.
  • Great file scanning capabilities: R-Studio can locate almost all lost data and successfully recover files while preserving their original folder structure.
  • Network recovery: The app supports recovering data from remote computers.
Top R-Studio Cons
  • Complicated interface: R-Studio’s interface remains complicated even for data recovery professionals.
  • Subpar user experience: R-Studio presents its results in device-based groups that might not make sense to the average user and may also require secondary scans until it shows recoverable files.
  • Limited extra features: R-Studio can monitor the S.M.A.R.T. status of storage devices, but not of many modern NVMe disks. Similarly, its signature scanner can be helpful but doesn’t support many modern media formats.
Detailed overview

It's evident that R-Studio is a specialized solution targetting primarily the most demanding users, but how does it compare to its peers?

Usability

R-Studio's approach of exposing almost all its functionality from the get-go is far from ideal. This approach ends up needlessly complicating the app's interface. Back in its original form, over a decade ago, this was considered the norm for such software. Today, though, User Interfaces and User Experiences, met as UI and UX, can be vastly more streamlined. Most of R-Studio's alternatives can work as evidence of that.

Recovery Performance

You don't mind the complete lack of hand-holding and having to manually configure almost every step of the process? Then, R-Studio's recovery engine produces top-tier results. That is if you're among those who care more about "a recovery app's engine" and have the know-how to "tune" it as you wish. At the very least, using R-Studio requires some knowledge of advanced storage-related terminology.

Value

R-Studio comes in various versions at different prices. And yet, only its priciest one makes sense, and only for data recovery specialists who need its functionality. Such demanding users would feel restricted by R-Studio's more affordable versions and their artificial limitations. At the same time, we wouldn't vouch that those "more affordable versions" are the best choice for their primary target, the average consumer, because of the app's convoluted interface.

UFS Explorer Logo

3. UFS Explorer

Platforms

WindowsmacOSLinux

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest

Limitations

Recover files smaller than 256 KB

Price range

$24.95...$1049.95

Quick overview

A strictly pro-level solution, UFS Explorer comes with most (if not all) of the features a data recovery professional might require.

Its versatility, support for most types of devices and file systems, extended RAID support, and powerful data scanner, are simply expected bullet points driving the point home you’re using paid data recovery software and not a freeware tool.

UFS Explorer for Windows – Gallery
Top UFS Explorer Pros
  • Advanced imaging: UFS Explorer can create full or partial sparse images even from storage devices with hardware issues.
  • Extended file system support: Compatible with most file systems, UFS Explorer can work with devices that use FAT32, NTFS, EXT4, ZFS, and even BTRFS-RAID.
  • Stellar RAID support: Few apps can match UFS Explorer’s support for various RAID setups, enabling recovery from all types of RAID arrays (RAID 0/5/6/10/60, ZFS “stripe” volumes, Drobo’s BeyondRAID, etc.), and in many cases, their reconstruction.
  • Can work with encrypted storage: UFS Explorer can work with encrypted volumes, for which it includes many decryption techniques.
Top UFS Explorer Cons
  • Pricey: UFS Explorer is quite affordable for what it offers, especially considering that it’s primarily an app for professionals. Not, though, for the average consumer, who’s left to look elsewhere for lower-cost alternatives.
  • Complicated: Because of its functionality, UFS Explorer’s far from what one would call “user-friendly”.
Detailed overview

If you take a step back and look at the complete picture instead of individual pros and cons, is UFS Explorer a worthy option? And if "yes", to whom?

Usability

Unlike R-Studio, UFS Explorer manages to offer similar (and, in some cases, more) features, paired with a less chaotic, more sensible interface. That doesn't mean that UFS Explorer, too, can't occasionally alienate "normal users". In a few cases, such users may be left to wonder which would be the best choice to save their lost files with little information on the optimal course of action. Still, the same users would probably not be using the app in the first place purely because of its price.

Recovery Performance

UFS Explorer can (usually) recover just as many files as other professional data recovery software, so it gets a point for results. "Recovery Performance" can mean many things, though, and UFS Explorer doesn't excel in all of them. Although the app is relatively speedy, its scanning speed can take a severe hit when working with "misbehaving" storage devices.

Value

UFS Explorer is an exceptional choice for data recovery professionals who know what they want and why they want it and are prepared to pay for it. If this sounded "too specific", that's because UFS Explorer, like R-Studio, is one of the best choices for the aforementioned very particular group of people. Why try to find your way through an app that's more complicated than you'd like when there are more straightforward, similarly priced alternatives that can perform the same task achieving almost identical results?

DMDE (DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software) Logo

4. DMDE (DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software)

Read full DMDE (DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software) review
Platforms

WindowsmacOSLinux

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest

Limitations

Recover up to 4000 files in the opened directory

Price range

$7...$133

Quick overview

DMDE sits in the space between consumer-level and professional data recovery software by offering many advanced features at consumer-level prices.

Still, its friendly pricing can be deceiving, for its relatively complex interface and results can scare off beginners unfamiliar with storage terminology and data recovery concepts.

DMDE for Windows – Gallery
Top DMDE Pros
  • Fast: DMDE is one of the zippiest data recovery tools during scanning and recovery.
  • Wide compatibility: DMDE can run on virtually all versions of Windows, macOS, Linux, and even DOS, and supports (almost) all related file systems (FAT12/16/32, exFAT, EXT2/3/4, HFS+/HFSX, BTRFS, and more).
  • Great collection of pro-level tools: DMDE can recover data from RAW disks using file signatures, find and restore “lost” partitions, reconstruct RAID arrays, “clone” disks (even if they contain bad sectors), and more.
  • Custom NTFS utilities: Built-in functionality allows DMDE to “bypass” Windows’ own NTFS system and “directly” create, copy, delete, or repair files and directories on a storage device.
Top DMDE Cons
  • Complicated: Although its combination of features and price is unmatchable, rendering DMDE an enticing option for everyone, in action, it can be too complex for the average consumer who “only” wants to get their files back.
  • Stuck in the past: One can appreciate how DMDE supports even Microsoft’s ancient OSes, but not how in some regards, it seems stuck in that era, with both its preview functionality and signature scanner ignoring many modern file formats.
  • No S.M.A.R.T. support: Thankfully, there are many free S.M.A.R.T. status monitoring tools you can use, for DMDE doesn’t include such functionality.
Detailed overview

DMDE is affordable enough to work as a more feature-rich alternative to entry-level data recovery apps. But does that mean it's a suitable replacement for them?

Usability

Everyone prioritizing features, speed, compatibility, and affordability will be more than happy with DMDE. That is if they don't also demand ease-of-use and extended support for modern filetypes. Still, DMDE never hides the fact it's not a simple tool for everyone. Even its name clearly states that it's not primarily "a data recovery solution" (although it can help with such tasks) but "a Disk Editor" (the "DE" part of its name). Thus, its target group is primarily those people who already know what "disk editors" are, do, and how to use them. DMDE is thoughtfully designed to empower even casual users to recover their lost data successfully. However, care has to be taken to avoid fumbling with "the wrong things". Doing so could lead to the opposite outcome and potentially catastrophic results (of the "overwriting instead of recovering data" kind).

Recovery Performance

Forgoing modern looks, shiny graphics, and smooth animations makes DMDE look stuck somewhere between Windows XP and Windows 7. However, the positive side is that it gets straight to the point, and its interface responds instantly to all user input. We consider that significant for the "performance" factor, for an app with a fast recovery engine whose interface looks frozen can't be perceived as "performant". Thankfully, DMDE's engine is just as zippy.

Value

Its combination of features, performance, and ultra-affordable price, makes DMDE one of the best options for demanding data recovery specialists on a budget. That said, it would be far from the top choice for everyone seeking a simple way to get their deleted files back.

File Scavenger Logo

5. File Scavenger

Platforms

Windows

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest

Limitations

Preview only

Price range

$64...$219

Quick overview

File Scavenger is closer to its consumer-friendly siblings than most pro-level solutions, thanks to its straightforward (but also old-school) interface.

However, like with any professional hard drive recovery software for demanding users, File Scavenger’s more advanced tasks also expect some familiarity with data recovery and a solid grasp of storage terminology.

File Scavenger for Windows – Gallery
Top File Scavenger Pros
  • Windows-friendly: File Scavenger supports (almost) all NT-based versions of Microsoft’s Windows, from the latest Windows 11 back to Windows 2000 and even NT4.
  • Great file system support: File Scavenger can work with most major file systems of the three dominant OSes, Windows, macOS, and Linux, from exFAT and UFS to XFS and HFSX.
  • Supports Virtual Disks: Not restricting itself to physical and logical storage devices, File Scavenger can also work with the most popular Virtual Disk formats – VMDK, VHD/VHDX, and SparseBundle.
  • Encryption-compatible: File Scavenger can work with volumes encrypted with BitLocker.
Top File Scavenger Cons
  • Old versions for old OSes: Although officially File Scavenger “supports older versions of Windows”, that implies you’ll use an older version of the app that still supports them. This, in turn, means losing the app’s latest features and updates.
  • Can't detect the undetected: Although it includes “undetected drives” among its causes of data loss, File Scavenger doesn’t pull a magic trick to detect drives that act entirely dead and which the computer’s storage controller “can’t see”.
  • Limited Virtual Disks support: While it can work with VMWare’s, Microsoft’s, and Apple’s Virtual Disk formats, File Scavenger seemingly skips the more “open” OVA and OVF formats used in popular virtualization solutions like Oracle’s VirtualBox.
Detailed overview

One can appreciate how File Scavenger supports old versions of Windows, back to the over-two-decades-old Windows NT.

However, in actual use, its interface also feels like it's still stuck in the 90s, and its functionality and price are merely "as expected".

Usability

File Scavenger can be straightforward when performing a simple data recovery task from a single device in relatively good working condition. This makes it an excellent choice for everyone who doesn't care about the intricacies of data recovery. And yet, as expected by older software, with File Scavenger, more demanding processes also expect from the user some familiarity with the topic at hand - for example, when attempting to recover particular types of files from a failed ZFS RAID-Z3 storage pool. Although "advanced" users and data recovery specialists won't have trouble with that and find their way through File Scavenger, as proven by alternatives, it doesn't have to be like this. Even advanced, demanding, and complex processes can be streamlined and simplified, and File Scavenger could do better.

Recovery Performance

Regarding results, File Scavenger's output is top-notch. Its output is almost on par with the top alternatives, give or take a handful of files, and produces usable clones of the original data it recovers. Also, thanks to its well-thought-out scanning engine, it doesn't "get stuck" for (too) long when dealing with corrupted disks or bad sectors. Still, apart from that, under "normal" circumstances, it's not the fastest data recovery solution we've tested.

Value

When evaluating its features, performance, and user-friendliness against its cost, File Scavenger proves a solid choice for anyone in need of a "prosumer" data recovery solution. It's not the most feature-packed or friendliest data recovery app, but it's also realistically priced for what it offers.

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Conclusion

There are dozens of data recovery apps, but they’re not equal. Some offer only a basic group of features and prioritize user-friendliness. Others provide extended functionality for everyone who requires “more”.

Always remember, though, that there’s a limit to how much an app’s developers and designers can streamline its interface. The more features you require and the more advanced the tasks an app can deal with, the higher the chances of a steeper learning curve (and the occasional misstep).

Each of the five apps we saw has its pros and cons. Although they’re all great at what they do, it’s up to you to decide which one would be the best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which data recovery software is used by professionals the most?

There’s no single solution preferred by all data recovery professionals. Still, R-Studio, DMDE, and Disk Drill are popular among data recovery specialists, depending on whether they prioritize complete control over the recovery process, affordability, or an optimal balance between them (respectively).

It depends on what you consider “affordable” based on your requirements. DMDE and File Scavenger cost up to ten times less than the priciest version of R-Studio, but they’re also less modern and not as frequently updated.

There are two groups of professionals in the field of data recovery. The first has the know-how to perform advanced data recovery and file forensics but only relies on software tools like the ones we saw in this article. The second works in labs where they have access to specialized hardware and software, usually unavailable to end users.

The answer to this question, too, depends on various factors. However, if we had to pick only one, we’d go for Disk Drill. It’s one of the few apps in the ideal cross-section of the Venn diagram of usability, features, and price.

Odysseas Kourafalos
Author

Odysseas is a geek with over three decades of experience in tech who occasionally lost vast amounts of data. “Data” he managed to recover most of the time using various recovery solutions.

Eventually, he joined our team to write about such data loss and recovery scenarios and all related software and methods.

Despite having written thousands of articles and tutorials for various popular outlets, he considers his data-recovery adventures an ongoing learning experience.

Odysseas’s recent publishings
Nikolay Lankevich
Nikolay Lankevich
Approver

Nikolay Lankevich has over 15 years of strong experience in various fields and platform includes Disaster Recovery, Windows XP/7. System analysis, design, application (Inter/Intranet) development, and testing. Provided technical supports on desktop and laptops on Win-XP and Macintosh for about 2000 employees.