5 Best Alternatives to PhotoRec

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PhotoRec might be one of the most popular open-source solutions for recovering data, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Or the best. Far from it, depending on the data loss scenario and your personal preferences, some alternatives might be much better options. Let’s see 5 of the best ones worth checking out.

Top PhotoRec Alternatives

If you need a quick answer on the best alternatives to Photorec, without diving into details, the following are the top 3 options.

qphotorec icon
PhotoRec for Windows
Free Download space iconOfficial Website
Bang for the buck5
Recovery performance3
Scan speed4
Read full review
Excellent Alternative
disk drill windows icon
Disk Drill for Windows
Free Download space iconOfficial Website
Bang for the buck4
Recovery performance5
Scan speed5
Read full review
r-studio icon
R-Studio for Windows
Free Download space iconOfficial Website
Bang for the buck4
Recovery performance3
Scan speed5
Read full review
wondershare icon
Wondershare Recoverit for Windows
Free Download space iconOfficial Website
Bang for the buck3
Recovery performance3
Scan speed4
Read full review

What Is PhotoRec?

PhotoRec is one of the most popular (and relatively few) open-source data recovery solutions for Linux. It is also available on Windows, macOS, and Sun Solaris. The app isn’t distributed as a standalone piece of software and comes bundled with TestDisk.

Despite primarily specializing in recovering media files, as its name states, PhotoRec supports many more types of files. It “knows” about files with over 480 extensions, including various types of videos, documents, archives, and photos. PhotoRec can (try to) recover those from storage devices like HDDs, optical discs, and digital camera memory.

PhotoRec Logo
Read full PhotoRec for Windows review

Why you might need an alternative to PhotoRec

1FAT32 partitions scan Not supportedPhotoRec ignores the folder trees and filenames of FAT32 partitions.
2exFAT partitions scan Not supportedThe app doesn't recover exFAT directory structures and filenames.
3NTFS partitions scan Not supportedThe software ignores NTFS folder hierarchies and filenames.
4The number of formats supported by deep scan DecentMerely adequate support for many popular file formats.
5BitLocker support NoNo support for volumes encrypted with BitLocker.
6Scan for lost partitions NoThe app strictly recovers files, ignoring partitions.
7Modern user-friendly interface NoPhotoRec's main version works in the terminal. Its graphical Qt-based version feels more like an afterthought.
8Preview recoverable items without interrupting the scan NoThe software offers zero options for previewing *or* selecting specific files.
9Update frequency SeldomThe app is rarely updated.
10Live chat NoSupport is available only through the app's forums or by emailing the author.

If your utmost priority is a zero-cost data recovery solution without caring about the results and their quality, you might like PhotoRec. Those unfamiliar with data recovery, though, who’d also prefer a relatively user-friendly experience, would better look elsewhere.

Top 5 Best PhotoRec Alternatives

Do you need a friendlier or speedier data recovery solution? A piece of software that offers better support (and quicker response times)? An app that can recognize even more types of files. The following five options are some of the best you can try.

disk drill windows icon

1. Disk Drill for Windows

4.55 • Best choice for Windows users – Disk Drill for Windows is among the best data recovery software applications available to Windows users.
Last Release
6th Jan, 2024
Windows 10-11 (x64 only)


Consistently rated among the top 5 data recovery solutions by many sites and software experts (including our own top data recovery software ranking), Disk Drill ticks many boxes that justify why it’s considered among the best of its kind. It can recover multiple types of files from almost any storage device, and it also comes with handy extra features, like support for backups and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Read full Disk Drill for Windows review

With a user-friendly interface that is straightforward but powerful, Disk Drill enables you to zip through the files it locates after a thorough scan, preview them with a single click, and fully recover them thanks to its advanced algorithms.

The main differences between Disk Drill and PhotoRec

Overview of main differences
#FeaturePhotoRecDisk Drill
1Starting priceFree$89.00 / Perpetual
2FAT32 partitions scan bad good
3exFAT partitions scan bad good
4NTFS partitions scan bad good
5Scan for lost partitions bad good
6Partial file recovery bad good
7BitLocker support bad good
8Byte-to-byte device backups bad good
9Preview recoverable items without interrupting the scan bad good
10Modern user-friendly interface bad good
11Multiple view modes in scan results bad good
12Recovery chance prediction bad good
13Data protection bad good
14S.M.A.R.T. bad good
15Multilingual UI bad good

Disk Drill comes with a user-friendly interface and supports many types of files, file systems, and storage devices. It's also optimal for dealing with BitLocker encrypted volumes, can take byte-to-byte perfect backups of any storage device, and even recover partial files when chunks of them are lost.

Disk Drill offers a free version you can use to test it by recovering up to 500MBs of data. Apart from that, Disk Drill doesn't come with other significant limitations. If you decide you like it, it offers a range of plans starting from $89, granting you access to both its Windows and Mac versions.

qphotorec icon disk drill windows icon

There are more differences to discover.

Read full Disk Drill versus Photorec comparison

Disk Drill is a good alternative to PhotoRec because:

Comes with a friendlier user interface

Can recover more types of files

Is compatible with almost any type of storage device

Natively supports analysis of FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT partitions

Can create byte-level backups of storage devices

Can monitor the S.M.A.R.T. status of storage devices

Disk Drill is a poor alternative to PhotoRec because:

Its free version allows recovering up to 500 MBs of data

No forum where users could chat and exchange information

No phone support

Portable mode is available only on the Mac version

r-studio icon

2. R-Studio for Windows

3.88 • Empowering professionals; intimidating home users – This data recovery software offers a broad range of features to meet the needs of demanding data recovery professionals. 
Last Release
10th Apr, 2024
Windows 2000-11


Originally a tool for data recovery professionals, R-Studio was eventually redesigned for broader use. However, it remains a relatively complicated piece of software for advanced users.

Read full R-Studio for Windows review

R-Studio is one of the most powerful data recovery solutions for those with the know-how that will invest their time in it. It supports many types of files and file systems, can work with most storage devices, and even supports recovering data from RAID arrays and JBOD setups.

The main differences between R-Studio and PhotoRec

Overview of main differences
1Starting priceFree$49.99 / Perpetual
2APFS partitions scan bad good
3HFS+ partitions scan bad good
4Recovery from RAID1, 0, JBOD bad good
5RAID reconstructor bad good
6Network recovery bad good
7Bad sector management bad good
8Forensic features bad good
9Helpdesk support bad good
10Raw photo recoverybase-prosbase-warn
11Video formats recoverybase-prosbase-warn
12Start file recovery without interrupting the scan good bad

It may seem strange, but somehow even the non-Qt terminal-based version of PhotoRec manages to be more straightforward in its use than R-Studio. A complicated beast with every feature a professional would expect to find in a data recovery solution, R-Studio offers everything PhotoRec does and then some.

It also comes at a price, with R-Studio's regular license costing $79.99 for use on a single PC. And we mean the "single" in this description, for the license is non-transferable and binds the software to the specific computer where you installed it (as in "you can't move the app to another PC").

What's worse, you can't test it under realistic conditions, for the trial version only allows recovery of files up to 256KBs - and most modern files are much larger than that.

R-Studio is a good alternative to PhotoRec because:

Supports many types of files and partitions

Can recover data from RAID and JBOD storage setups

Can reconstruct RAID volumes

Has better bad sector management

Has helpdesk support

R-Studio is a poor alternative to PhotoRec because:

It is not free

Doesn't specialize in media formats (photos and videos)

Is (even) more complicated to use

wondershare icon

3. Wondershare Recoverit for Windows

3.70 • Can it really recover it? – Wondershare Recoverit offers a sleek user interface and exceptional ongoing support. But, its recovery capabilities are average at best, and little else is offered outside of basic file recovery.
Last Release
8th Mar, 2024
Windows 7-11 (x64 only)


Wondershare’s Recoverit has one of the most straightforward, “clean”, and nicely designed interfaces among its peers as its primary asset. It’s friendly to newcomers and grants uncomplicated access to the app’s features.

Read full Wondershare Recoverit for Windows review

One of Recoverit’s most interesting features is that apart from recovering video files, it also comes with a tool that can (attempt to) repair those that were corrupted. It can also create a bootable recovery drive, useful if the device from which you’re trying to recover data is the only one on the computer.

The main differences between Wondershare Recoverit and PhotoRec

Overview of main differences
#FeaturePhotoRecWondershare Recoverit
1Starting priceFree$59.99 / 1 month
2Modern user-friendly interface bad good
3Convenient source selection on start bad good
4Easy-to-locate features bad good
5Bootable recovery drive creation bad good
6Corrupted video repair tool bad good
7Raw photo recoverybase-prosbase-pros
8Video formats recoverybase-prosbase-warn
9Document formats recoverybase-prosbase-warn
10Disk images: scan and recovery good good
11Start file recovery without interrupting the scan good good

Wondershare Recoverit is an easy-to-use data recovery solution that performs well and has interesting extra features. However, many of those features aren't available in its Essential plan, which starts at $59.99.

By moving to its Premium plan instead, at $99.99, you gain access to two of its most valuable features:

  • Support for bootable media, which means you can immediately begin recovering data when you need the app without having to install it (or even having an OS in working condition).
  • Its corrupted video repair tool, that attempts to "fix" problematic video files.

Wondershare Recoverit is a good alternative to PhotoRec because:

Has a straightforward, modern, and well-designed interface

Makes it easy to access all its essential features

Comes with extra video repair functionality

Can be used through standalone bootable media

Wondershare Recoverit is a poor alternative to PhotoRec because:

The full version costs money

Doesn't perform as well in photo recovery tasks

Could be better at recovering documents

Cannot scan or recover files from device images

recuva icon

4. Recuva

3.04 • Good for basic data recovery jobs – Recuva, despite it being a full recovery solution at zero cost, leaves a lot to be desired. Compared to other recovery tools, it's sorely lacking in terms of recovery performance and features. However, if you're in a pinch, it can serve as a quick and easy-to-use recovery solution.
Last Release
13th Jun, 2022
Windows XP-10, 11 (unofficial support)


Recuva gained popularity among its peers for being a simple, uncomplicated, no-frills, and, more importantly, free data recovery solution. Today, the story remains the same, with the phrase describing Recuva, in a nutshell, being “it’s the simple and free one”.

Read full Recuva review

When looking further than Recuva’s simplicity and zero-cost combination, it starts looking less enticing. Its quick scan for FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS partition is limited, and the app is far from the best option for recovering photos and videos. It can’t work with unmountable devices and can only scan whole partitions (which takes longer than the quicker methods offered by alternatives). Also, it’s rarely updated, and the quality of its results should not be taken for granted.

Still, it can also create byte-to-byte backups of devices, and do the opposite of its reason of being, securely shred data beyond any chance of recovery.

The main differences between Recuva and PhotoRec

Overview of main differences
1Is it free? good good
2FAT32 partitions quick scan bad fine
3exFAT partitions quick scan bad fine
4NTFS partitions quick scan bad fine
5Convenient file-by-file preview of recoverable items bad good
6Recovery chance prediction bad fine
7Byte-to-byte device backups bad good
8Windows shadow copies scanning bad good
9Secure data shredding bad good
10Raw photo recoverybase-prosbase-warn
11Video formats recoverybase-prosbase-warn
12Unmountable partitions good bad
13Scan free space only good bad
14Start file recovery without interrupting the scan good bad

Recuva is simple, easy, and free. Those are not only the primary but, up to a point, the sole reasons to choose it over most alternatives, including PhotoRec.

Recuva's first and most crucial problem is that, by today's standards, it's an ancient piece of software. It's still useful largely thanks to Microsoft's Windows compatibility with past versions of the OS. With Recuva's last major version released in 2016, it only supports the new Windows 11 "unofficially". So, "officially", any of the alternatives is a better option.

Recuva is leagues ahead of PhotoRec regarding user-friendliness. Recuva earned a respectable 61% usability score during our testing, compared to PhotoRec's abysmal 4%. However, solid results are more critical in data recovery, where PhotoRec managed an adequate 52%, leaving Recuva in its dust at 31%.

qphotorec icon recuva icon

There are more differences to discover.

Read full Recuva versus Photorec comparison

Recuva is a good alternative to PhotoRec because:

Wizard-based user-friendly (main) interface

Can scan Windows shadow copies

Option for creating byte-to-byte backups

Also capable of securely shredding files

Can display file previews

Recuva is a poor alternative to PhotoRec because:

Not as good photo and video recovery

Cannot work with unmountable partitions

Must complete its scan to begin recovery

data rescue logo

5. Data Rescue for Windows

3.25 • Still worth a try – In short, Data Rescue leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn't include many additional features to make it stand out from the crowd and its mediocre recovery capabilities aren't impressive either. Although Prosoft does a good job keeping it updated, we were left disappointed with its performance and perplexed by its unconventional pricing model.
Last Release
28th Jul, 2023
Windows 7-11


In many ways, Prosoft’s Data Rescue for Windows is the equivalent of what a truly evolved Recuva would look like. Although almost as simple to use, Data Rescue for Windows is more modern and comes with more features.

Read full Data Rescue for Windows review

If in a hurry or dealing with a rapidly deteriorating storage device, Prosoft’s Data Rescue for Windows support for a quick scan of NTFS and HFS+ partitions renders it one of the best options to try. Even better, it can clone a problematic device or back it up into an image file. You can then use that image file as the recovery source instead of working with the failing device.

Data Rescue for Windows is also quite speedy during recovery and is configurable “under the hood”. Demanding users will appreciate its (somewhat limited) support for RAID arrays and JBOD setups. It’s also worth mentioning how Data Rescue for Windows allows manual tweaking of the scan process, HEX-editing, and securely erasing any storage device.

The main differences between Data Rescue and PhotoRec

Overview of main differences
#FeaturePhotoRecData Rescue
1Starting priceFree$79.00 / month
2NTFS partitions quick scan bad good
3HFS+ partitions deep scan bad good
4Recovery from RAID1, 0, JBOD bad fine
5RAID reconstructor bad fine
6Convenient scan session management bad fine
7Built-in disk space secure eraser bad good
8Raw photo recoverybase-prosbase-warn
9Automatic implementation of multiple appropriate scanning methods without user interaction good bad
10Scan free space only good bad
11Recovered files' labeling fine bad
12Start file recovery without interrupting the scan good bad

Data Rescue for Windows hides a capable and robust recovery engine behind a very straightforward interface. And yet, it only scored a 30% in usability during our testing. It's better than PhotoRec's definition of the low end, at 4%, but re-imagining the app's interface wouldn't hurt.

Still, you might decide to erase Data Rescue from your memory. Then, run to PhotoRec, or any other solution. Even the priciest of those alternatives may look more enticing when you realize that Data Rescue for Windows doesn't offer a version you can purchase and use at your leisure or a subscription. Instead, you have to pay for each and every file you wish to recover. And the app's trial version only allows you to scan and preview a device for lost data.

Data Rescue is a good alternative to PhotoRec because:

It can scan NTFS and HFS+ partitions quickly

Quite configurable

Supports RAID and JBOD setups (with limitations)

Allows tweaking the scan process (start sector)

Can securely erase the contents of any storage device

Data Rescue is a poor alternative to PhotoRec because:

Has a price tag

Doesn't specialize in media recovery

Cannot scan only free space

Expects more user interaction

Wrapping Up



Disk Drill

4.55 35%


3.88 15%

Wondershare Recoverit

3.70 10%

Data Rescue

3.25 4%


3.04 10%

PhotoRec is an excellent option if cost is your top priority when choosing a data recovery solution. Or if you are on Linux, where PhotoRec is, admittedly, one of the best apps of its kind. Or if you demand all your software to be open-source. If you don't care about those factors, maybe you should look into alternatives. Out of all of them, Disk Drill offers the best combination of ease of use, power, and cost.

Disk Drill for Windows

4.55 • Best all-around – Disk Drill has a powerful recovery engine, supports most file systems and storage devices, and comes with useful extra features.



Last Release

6th Jan, 2024




Windows 10-11 (x64 only)

R-Studio is an excellent choice if dealing with RAID and JBOD setups. Expect to invest some time to familiarize yourself with its somewhat convoluted interface, though. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s see the answers to some of the most popular questions about PhotoRec.

In a PhotoRec VS QPhotoRec fight, who'd be the winner?

Both apps are two sides of the same coin, sharing the same piece of software as their core. The only difference is their interface.

  • QPhotoRec is Qt-based and mouse-friendly but also feels somewhat “clunkier”.
  • PhotoRec expects you to use it through the terminal and is more streamlined.

Nowadays, data recovery solutions come with “extra smarts” and prioritize user-friendliness. PhotoRec is the opposite: a powerful but limited in its specificity tool, extra-useful when in need to locate a few particular files. It achieves that by ignoring file systems, folder structures, and filenames, and seeking “file headers” (and “tails”), the data that marks where a specific type of file begins or ends on a storage device.

Thus, PhotoRec would be more beneficial to a data investigator trying to unearth recently deleted evidence from a storage device than the average user who wants to get back all their lost summer vacation photos and videos.

Sure! First, you have to download it. It comes in a compressed archive file you’ll have to extract to a local folder, but the app doesn’t need further installation. Thus, you can extract it to a USB Flash Drive and use it as a portable app.

  • Afterwards, run either PhotoRec in a terminal or QPhotoRec if you prefer the more straightforward QUI version. (The following steps are for QPhotoRec.)
  • Select the device you want to scan, its File System type, and if you want to scan the Whole device or only the Free space.
  • Browse for the destination directory, where you want to store the recovered files.
  • Finally, click on Search to begin the scan and recovery process.

PhotoRec doesn’t need an installation. It comes in a compressed archive file, which you should “extract” to a local folder after downloading. The archive will carry the name of the more popular Testdisk data recovery solution, which you’ll find among the extracted files.

To run PhotoRec, if you’d prefer the more user-friendly GUI version and to avoid the terminal, double-click on the QPhotoRec.exe file you’ll find inside that folder.

Odysseas Kourafalos

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
Yevgeniy Tolkunov
Yevgeniy Tolkunov

Yevgeniy Tolkunov is Hardware Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Yevgeniy has a Master's Degree in Physics, Information Technology; 15+ years of experience.