PhotoRec for Windows Review: Intimidating but Worth It

3.36

Out of 5 Total Score

No. 14 Among all Windows solutions

Price range - free • CGSecurity • Windows

Last update:

Many articles that list the best data recovery solutions mention PhotoRec as a great alternative to commercial applications. To discover how good it really is, we put it to the test, and this PhotoRec review is here to tell you what we found out.

PhotoRec – Gallery

Main Pros and Cons of PhotoRec

PROS

  • Completely free. There is no need to buy a license to recover files. The program is completely free.
  • Open source. PhotoRec is open source, so anyone can study its source code and make modifications to it if desired.
  • Optional graphical user interface. The Windows version of PhotoRec comes with an optional graphical user interface that makes it more accessible.
  • Does not require installation. PhotoRec is a portable application, which means that you can launch it without installing it on your system.
  • Capable signature scanner. The program supports a large number of signatures, including recent ones.
  • Ability to narrow down scan results. You can enable/disable individual signatures to narrow down scan results.
  • Runs well even on low-end computers. You don’t need a powerful computer to use PhotoRec.
  • Works with raw disks. The program works with disks that do not have a file system or refuse to mount.
  • Scanning of disk images. The program knows how to scan byte-by-by-byte copies of disks.
  • Scanning unused disk space. You can tell PhotoRec to only scan unused (free) disk space, which helps speed up the recovery process.

CONS

  • Interface slows down during scanning. When the scanning process starts, the user interface becomes a lot less responsive.
  • Window size settings. The software doesn’t remember window size settings.
  • Rarely updated. The program rarely receives updates.
  • No auto-update. To update to the latest version, you have to manually download PhotoRec from its website and replace the version you have on your computer.
  • Scan automation. To start scanning you have to manually select the file system, scan area, and configure the types of files to be found.
  • Source selection. It takes some work to select the device you want to scan.
  • The need for an additional disk. Because PhotoRec can only recover all found files in bulk, you are almost guaranteed to need an additional disk to use as your recovery destination.
  • Disk backup creation. There is no way to create byte-to-byte copies of disks.
  • Lack of tech support. Customer support is provided only by volunteers on forums.
  • Lack of additional functionality. The program does not have any additional features beyond data recovery.
  • Only signature scanner. The program is able to find files only by signature. The file system will never be restored, so the user will never see the original names of files and folders where they were stored.
  • Doesn’t refresh storage devices. PhotoRec doesn’t automatically refresh the list of storage devices. To see a newly inserted storage device, you have to restart the application.
  • Multiple scans. If you need to scan many devices, you have to restart the program, because when the scanning process is finished there is only one option, which is to exit the program. You cannot go back to the home screen.
  • Usability issues. The software has no features that would help users analyze recovery results.
  • Terminal version. The terminal version of PhotoRec is not beginner-friendly at all.
  • Recovery path. The program does not remember the last file recovery path.
  • Warning messages. When attempting to restore files to the source drive, which is a dangerous thing to do because it can lead to overwriting, there’s no warning message displayed to alert inexperienced users.
  • Disabled signatures. By default, not all signatures are selected for scanning. To select everything, you have to manually click multiple checkboxes.

PhotoRec Summary

👍 Worth a try

PhotoRec is a tried-and-true option for free, open-source file recovery on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Its powerful signature-based recovery engine can retrieve hundreds of file formats, include many commonly used RAW photo and video files. Although PhotoRec technically ignores the file system, its compatibility with multiple file systems, including FAT, NTFS, exFAT, ext2/ext3/ext4, and HFS+ means that it can handle just about any storage device you throw at it.

On the downside, PhotoRec’s user interface and overall usability do not match the modern standards of user-friendliness, lacking quality-of-life features such as a modern GUI, file previews, and automatic scan resuming. Moreover, PhotoRec’s approach to data recovery is solely based on signature scanning, which means it does not recover file system metadata. Despite these drawbacks, it remains a viable option for users who prioritize cost-effectiveness.

TitleResult
Compatibility Good
Recovery Rate Good
Usability Poor
File Type Support Good
Scan Speed Excellent
Free Trial Yes
Starting Price Free
Money-Back Guarantee No

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PhotoRec for Windows

Christophe GRENIER

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What is PhotoRec?

 #

PhotoRec is a free and open-source data recovery software. It has been around for many years so you might have heard about it before. Regardless of whether you have or haven’t, this overview chapter is here to tell you everything you need to know before we dissect the software in our in-depth PhotoRec review. 

PhotoRec Factsheet

RequirementsWindows XP-10, 11 (unofficial support)
Latest version 7.2 • Released 22nd Feb, 2024
Download size25.1 MB
CategoryData Recovery Software
UI languagesEnglish

Sibling version

PhotoRec for macOS

3.30

If you don’t fear software that runs in Terminal on Mac, then you should give PhotoRec a try because it can recover an unlimited amount of data for free. Read full review

No. 7 Among all macOS solutions

PhotoRec Logo

How Much Does PhotoRec Cost?

Distributed as Free All features are provided free of charge, and the software can be used, studied, and modified without restriction
Free version availableFree version available
Free version details

PhotoRec is free – this open source multi-platform application is distributed under GNU General Public License (GPLV v2+)

No credit card to tryNo credit card to try

PhotoRec’s pricing could hardly be any simpler: the software is completely free and distributed under the GNU General Public License. As such, you are free to run, study, share, and modify the software however you please.

Developer — Christophe GRENIER

PhotoRec is developed by Christophe Grenier, a French software developer who owns and operates CGSecurity, the homepage of PhotoRec. 

2% 65.3% than avg

Online market share

Reflects the share of online traffic within the niche occupied by data recovery software, based on data taken from ahrefs.com (from Google US search engine).

5300 95.2% than avg

Brand name popularity

Based on the number of brand-related search queries on Google US according to ahrefs.com.

Christophe Grenier released the first version of PhotoRec in 2008, and he has been improving it ever since with the help of volunteers from around the world, who contribute to the project in a number of different ways.

Developer website cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec
Support email grenier@cgsecurity.org
Founded

2008 • 16 years on the market

HQ location

GlobalSP, 78 rue la Condamine, 75017 PARIS, France

Social media LinkedIn

Unlike most commercial data recovery software applications, PhotoRec doesn’t have a marketing budget, and it doesn’t maintain an active social media presence, with support provided exclusively on the official forums. 

How to Use PhotoRec for Windows

Tested on: Windows 11 (version 21H2)

This section showcases the software’s functionality and walks you through how to use it. Let’s see if an open-source data recovery application can rival commercial software products. To give you the most comprehensive results possible, we tested both the command-line version of PhotoRec and the optional graphical user interface, called QPhotoRec.

Step 1

Installation

PhotoRec is a portable software application, which means that it doesn't have to be installed before it can be launched.

All you have to do is download the application from its website, unpack the archive it comes in, and launch the main executable.

The archive includes both the command-line version of PhotoRec and QPhotoRec, the graphical version of the software.

Step 2

Source selection

When you launch the graphical version of PhotoRec, you are presented with a source selection window. You need to make sure that the storage device you want to scan is connected before you launch the software because the list of available sources doesn't automatically refresh when you connect a new device to your computer.

Unlike other similar data recovery software applications, PhotoRec doesn't automatically detect which file system is used, so you have to specify it manually. 

The command-line version of PhotoRec works much like the GUI version, featuring a step-by-step data recovery wizard that's designed to take you from source selection to scanning in a guided fashion. 

Step 3

Scanning process

Both PhotoRec and QPhotoRec provide only a basic overview of the scanning process, telling how many sectors have been scanned and how many are yet to be scanned. 

Unfortunately, it's impossible to preview scan results in real-time, and you also can't manage the scan process in any way. If you suddenly need to use your computer for other things, then your only option is to close the application and start again from scratch later.  

Step 4

Managing found files

When PhotoRec and QPhotoRec finish scanning, they display a short overview of data recovery results and provide the option to quit the application. 

Commercial data recovery software solutions typically provide scan result filters to help narrow down the results, and leading applications can even preview files before their actual recovery takes place.

Step 5

Recovery and post-processing

To see the recovered files, you have to open File Explorer or some similar file browser, navigate to the recovery directory, and manually review its content.

Is PhotoRec safe?

81%

Avg score PhotoRec is generally safe, but be aware of potential data integrity risks

Safe and Trustworthy
👾 Malware
10/10

PhotoRec is completely free of malware. Its open-source nature allows anyone to scrutinize the code to the fullest extent.

🔒 Privacy
9/10

PhotoRec is exceptionally privacy-respecting. It doesn't collect or share any user data.

📊 Data Integrity
7/10

PhotoRec has mixed data integrity protection. While the core recovery algorithms are sound, it doesn't always operate in a strictly read-only mode, potentially increasing the risk of overwriting existing data on the affected drive.

👨‍💻 Developer
7/10

Christophe Grenier, PhotoRec's developer, is widely respected in the data recovery community, lending strong credibility to the software.

SUMMARY

PhotoRec enjoys a positive reputation for safety and trustworthiness. Its open-source nature offers excellent protection against malware. Additionally, it demonstrates a strong commitment to user privacy. However, it's crucial to note that PhotoRec doesn't guarantee strict read-only operations, which could slightly compromise data integrity in certain situations.

PhotoRec - Full Review and Analysis

In the main part of our PhotoRec review, we perform an in-depth analysis of the data recovery software to reveal its strengths and weaknesses, helping you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

32%

Karma

12 rating criteria

In terms of maturity and trustworthiness, PhotoRec leaves very little to be desired. Unfortunately, the application loses a lot of points due to how stagnant its development has been in recent years. There are also no official customer support channels to speak of, which is understandable considering that PhotoRec is completely free and open source, but it’s still a downside.

#FeatureResult
1Update frequency More than 6 months
2Updated recently No
3Changelog available Available (View full update history)
4Latest Windows release supported Nope, Windows 10 and older
5Genuine or clone? Genuine
6Brand name popularity Unpopular
7Online market share Poor
8Maturity Mature
9Extensive knowledge base Available
10Helpdesk support Not available
11Live chat Not available
12Phone support No
100%

Bang for the buck

8 rating criteria

Unsurprisingly, value is where PhotoRec shines the most considering the application is completely free and not limited in any way whatsoever. If it wasn’t for the immense value provided by this software, the overall rating given to it in this PhotoRec review would be quite different.

#FeatureResult
1Competitive pricing Yes
2Price-quality ratio Excellent
3Free trial No limitations
4Is it free? Completely
5Pricing policy Freeware
6Unlimited recovery in full version Yes
7Free upgrades Yes
8Commercial rights in the cheapest license No licenses to purchase
4%

Usability

18 rating criteria

In contrast with the excellent value offered by PhotoRec, there’s not much positive we can say about its usability. Even the optional graphical user interface is far from modern, and quality-of-life features like auto-resuming, previewing, and others are absent.  

#FeatureResult
1Modern user-friendly interface No
2Dark mode No
3Easy-to-locate features No
4Automatic implementation of multiple appropriate scanning methods without user interaction Yes
5Auto-resuming scans of failing drives No
6Auto-resuming backups of failing drives No
7Convenient source selection on start No
8Convenient file-by-file preview of recoverable items No
9Convenient thumbnail preview of recoverable items No
10Mount recoverable items as disk No
11Built-in updater No
12Multiple view modes in scan results No
13Hex view for recoverable items No
14Filter recoverable items by type No
15Search recoverable items by file names No
16Sort results No
17Multilingual UI No
18Simple deployment No
51%

Recovery performance

122 rating criteria

PhotoRec has decent signature scanning capabilities, but the application doesn’t support any other scanning modes, which greatly limits its ability to solve a broad range of data loss scenarios. 

#FeatureResultDescription
1Quick scan BadPhotoRec lacks a Quick Scan mode for rapid recovery of recently deleted files.
2Deep scan BadDeep scan functionality is absent in PhotoRec.
3Signature scan GoodPhotoRec's main strength lies in its signature-based scanning. This means it recognizes files based on their internal structure. PhotoRec effectively recovers a wide range of file types due to its extensive file signature database.
4Additional scan features FinePhotoRec is narrowly focused on signature scanning, lacking advanced modes designed for complex data loss situations.
5Device support FinePhotoRec can handle most common storage devices (hard drives, SD cards, etc.) formatted with file systems such as FAT, NTFS, exFAT, HFS+, and ext2/3/4. However, mobile devices and RAID arrays generally supported.
6Other notable recovery features BadPhotoRec is a barebones recovery tool; it lacks extra features like selective recovery, advanced filtering, or the ability to create disk images.

Scan results

Summary of our scan results

This table presents a quick summary of the scan results we gathered when testing the data recovery software

#FeatureQuick ScanRecovery of recently deleted filesDeep ScanThe ability to restore data upon file system reformatting or loss
1FAT32 partitions00
2exFAT partitions00
3NTFS partitions00
4EXT4 partitions00
5HFS+ partitions00
6APFS partitions00
0%

Quick Scan is designed to find recently deleted files on a device. This score reflects the overall software's effectiveness of recovering permanently deleted files across various file systems

Average Score

0%

Deep Scan is primarily designed to recover data from formatted devices, and lost partitions. This score reflects the overall software's effectiveness of recovering data from various file systems after reformatting

Average Score

Not Supported

PhotoRec ignores the file system, using only file signatures for recovery

#SignatureDescriptionScan Score
13FR

Hasselblad 3F RAW Image File

3
2ARW

Sony Alpha RAW File

4
3BMP

Bitmap Image File

5
4CR2

Canon RAW Version 2 File

4
5CR3

Canon RAW Version 3 File

5
6CRW

Canon RAW CIFF Image File

2
7DCR

Kodak Digital Camera RAW File

5
8DNG

Digital Negative Lossless RAW Image File

3
9CinemaDNG

Adobe Industry-wide Standard File Format for Digital Video Files

5
10ERF

Epson RAW File

2
11EXR

High Dynamic-range File Format

5
12FFF

Hasselblad RAW Image File

2
13GPR

GoPro RAW Format File

4
14HEIC

High Efficiency Image File Format

4
15IIQ

Intelligent Image Quality RAW File

2
16INSP

Panoramic Image Insta360 File

0
17JP2

Bitmap Image Format JPEG 2000 File

2
18JPG

Joint Photographic Experts Group Compressed Image File

5
19KDC

Kodak Digital Camera RAW Image File

3
20MEF

Mamiya RAW Image File

0
21MOS

Leaf and Mamiya RAW Image File

2
22MPO

Multi Picture Stereoscopic Object File

0
23MRW

Konica Minolta RAW Image Format File

5
24NEF

Nikon RAW Image File

4
25NRW

Nikon RAW Image File

4
26ORF

Olympus RAW Format File

4
27PEF

Pentax RAW Image File

3
28RAF

Fujifilm RAW Image File

5
29RAW

Native Digital Camera File

3
30RW2

Panasonic Lumix RAW Image File

5
31RWL

Leica RAW Image Format File

3
32SR2

Sony RAW 2 Image File

2
33SRF

Sony RAW File

2
34SRW

Samsung RAW Image File

3
35TIFF

Tag Image File Format

3
36X3F

Sigma Camera RAW Picture File

3
37X3I

Sigma Super Fine Detail Picture File

5
69%

Most modern digital cameras and an increasing number of mobile devices allow their users to capture raw image data in a variety of raw file formats. This score reflects the software's ability to recover photos in these formats using their unique signatures

Average Score

#SignatureDescriptionScan Score
1360

GoPRO 360 Degree Video File

3
2ARI

ARRI Professional Digital Video Camera File

3
3ARX

ARRI Professional Digital Video Camera File

0
4AVI

Audio Video Interleave Multimedia Container with GoPRO CineForm Intermediate Codec

4
5AVI

Audio Video Interleave Multimedia Container with MJPG, H.264, MSMPEG4 v2 Codecs

5
6BRAW

Blackmagic RAW Video File

4
7INSV

Insta360 Panoramic H.264 Video File

2
8INSV

Insta360 Panoramic HEVC or HVC1 Video File

4
9MOV

QuickTime File Format with Apple ProRes 422 Proxy, LT or HQ Codec

3
10MOV

QuickTime File Format with Apple ProRes 4444 Raw or HQ Codec

3
11MOV

QuickTime File Format with H.264 Codec

4
12MOV

QuickTime File Format with CineForm HD Codec

5
13MOV

QuickTime File Format with HEVC or HVC1 Codec

5
14MP4

Digital Multimedia Container Format with H.264 Codec

4
15MP4

Digital Multimedia Container Format with HEVC, HVC1 or Apple ProRes Codec

2
16MXF

Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with H.264 Codec

2
17MXF

Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with DVCPRO HD Codec

5
18MXF

Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with ARRI RAW or Apple ProRes Codec

3
19MXF

Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with XDCAM HD422 or HD35 MPEG2 Codec

4
20R3D

Red Digital Camera Company RAW Video File

5
21WMV

Windows Media Video Image with Pro RAW 9 Codec

5
67%

Video file formats have undergone significant evolution during the past decade. This rating assesses the software's effectiveness in recovering various video files using its signature scanner

Average Score

#SignatureDescriptionScan Score
1ACCDB

Microsoft Access 2007+ Database File

4
2DJVU

Scanned Document File Format Intended For Scanned Images

5
3DOC

Microsoft Word 97 – 2003 Document File

4
4DOCX

Microsoft Word 2007+ Document File

2
5FB2

FictionBook 2.0 eBook File

5
6KEY

Apple Keynote Office Application File

1
7MDB

Microsoft Access 97 - 2003 Database File

4
8NUMBERS

Apple Numbers Office Application File

1
9ODP

OpenDocument Presentation File Format

3
10ODS

OpenDocument Spreadsheet File Format

5
11ODT

OpenDocument Text Document File Format

3
12PAGES

Apple Pages Office Application File

3
13PDF

Portable Document Format File

5
14PPT

Microsoft Powerpoint 97 - 2003 Presentation File

4
15PPTX

Microsoft Powerpoint 2007+ Presentation File

2
16RTF

Rich Text Format File

2
17XLS

Microsoft Excel 97 - 2003 Spreadsheet File

5
18XLSX

Microsoft Excel 2007+ Spreadsheet File

5
64%

Documents are among the most commonly recovered file formats because their importance can be tremendous, especially when they're related to work or school. This score indicates the software's proficiency in recovering different document types based on their signatures

Average Score

Attention

Feeling puzzled by terms like "Quick scan" and "Deep scan"? This link explains the different scan modes and their specific purposes.

PhotoRec delivers reliable recovery results thanks to its robust signature-based scanning. This tool has demonstrated proficiency in recognizing and recovering a broad spectrum of file extensions, amounting to over 480 types across approximately 300 file families. 

In our testing, PhotoRec managed to perfectly recover manage image file formats, including BMP, CR2, CR3, JPG, and several raw photo formats such as NEF and RW2. However, its performance was not without shortcomings, as some formats like CRW and SRF showed either poor support or were altogether unrecoverable. Similarly, PhotoRec’s capability extends to video file recovery, with strong performance in restoring common formats such as AVI, MOV, MP4, and WMV, but some other formats (e.g., ARX, MXF) were less likely to be recovered. Document recovery is less consistent; while PhotoRec does well with standard file types like DOC and XLS, it may struggle with others, such as Apple’s office suite formats.

PhotoRec supports common file systems found in Windows, macOS, and Linux (FAT, NTFS, exFAT, ext2/3/4, HFS+). This means compatibility with most standard storage devices, though mobile devices and RAID arrays aren’t supported. The ability to work with disk images adds some flexibility.

It’s important to note the limitations of signature-based scanning. PhotoRec cannot restore original file names or folder structures, as it assumes file system damage. This means files will need to be manually sorted. Additionally, if you need to recover files from complex data loss scenarios or where filesystem integrity is a concern, PhotoRec may not be the best choice.

Additional scan features

Other notable scanning features and their performance These advanced scanning features expand the software's capabilities, adding flexibility to scanning process and allowing it to recover data from a wider range of data loss scenarios
39%
Average Score
#FeatureScore
1The number of file types supported by signature scan4
2BitLocker support0
3Windows shadow copies scanning0
4Scan for lost partitions0
5Recovered files' labeling3
6Partial file recovery0
7Disk images: scan and recovery5

As stated before, PhotoRec’s data recovery performance stems from its fairly impressive signature scanning capabilities, which allow it to recognize and recover more than 480 file extensions (about 300 file families). The software can also scan disk images, giving you one extra option for addressing data loss.

Device Support

Supported internal and external storage devices Ideally, data recovery software applications should be able to recover from internal and external hard drives, external USB flash drives, memory cards, smartphones, and other commonly used storage devices
53%
Average Score
#FeatureScore
1Internal and external HDD5
2Internal and external SSD5
3USB thumb drives / Classic iPods (non-iOS) / FireWire devices5
4Memory cards5
5iOS devices0
6Android devices0
7Recovery from RAID1, 0, JBOD0
8Unmountable partitions5
9NAS (Network-attached storage) RAID devices0
10Remote SSH (secure shell protocol) Linux based devices recovery0

PhotoRec is a multi-platform data recovery application that supports several commonly used Windows, macOS, and Linux file systems, including FAT, NTFS, exFAT, ext2/ext3/ext4, and HFS+. All storage devices that use these file systems should be recoverable. What isn’t recoverable are mobile devices and RAID storage.

Other notable recovery features

Additional recovery features and their performance These additional recovery features are what often separates average data recovery software solutions from those that can satisfy the needs of professionals and power users
16%
Average Score
#FeatureScore
1Overall non-intrusive read-only algorithms0
2Network recovery0
3Effectively filters out corrupted scan results0
4Byte-to-byte device backups0
5Bootable recovery drive creation0
6Convenient scan session management0
7Bad sector management0
8Recovery chance prediction0
9RAID reconstructor0
10Disk vitals monitoring and tracking during scan0
11Data protection0
12Links to in-lab recovery service for physically damaged devices0
13Scan speed4
14Scan free space only5
15Start file recovery without interrupting the scan5
16Preview recoverable items without interrupting the scan0
17Forensic features0

PhotoRec is a straightforward data recovery application that focuses on the recovery of lost files from local storage devices using its signature scanner. As such, there’s only a small handful of additional recovery features, including the option to skip free storage space during scanning. 

0%

Extras

10 rating criteria

It has become a common practice for the developers of data recovery software to bundle their applications with extra data management and data protection tools as a way to help users prevent data loss from occurring in the first place. Unfortunately, PhotoRec doesn’t come with any such tools.

#FeatureResultDescription
1Disk space mapping NoNot supported
2Disk clean up NoNot supported
3Corrupted video repair tool NoNot supported
4Corrupted photo repair tool NoNot supported
5S.M.A.R.T. NoNot supported
6Duplicate finder NoNot supported
7Built-in disk space secure eraser NoNot supported
8Disk cloning NoNot supported
9Disk surface test NoNot supported
10Secure data shredding NoNot supported

Perhaps the optional graphical user interface, called QPhotoRec, could be considered an extra feature, but it’s also something that users expect by default. 

What Users Say about PhotoRec for Windows

Don't let the DOS-like user interface fool you. This is the BEST software to recover photos from SDCard. You just select the SD Card, select a directory to place the recovered files, and BOOM, everything will be there. Can't be better than that. And it's totally free!

danarrib (alternativeto.net)

The draw of free and open-source software is always strong and while TestDisk and PhotoRec deliver, neither tool seems good enough to fully recover data from the source disk. Useful for low-level recovery, they appear unsuitable for recovering long-lost data.
 

Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson (techradar.com)

The oldest and the best. Simply scans the disk and shows you what it finds, good for recovering files of all types, on all types of media.
 

Jo Owen (spiceworks.com)

I've tried the program, but it doesn't recover my videos files completely. Just some of the audio. Any help?

Ryan Handt (fstoppers.com)

Video Resources for PhotoRec: Tutorials and Helpful Guides

To see PhotoRec in action without downloading it to your computer, watch the tutorial below. 

How to Easily Recover Lost Files by Using Photorec in 2021 (Windows and MacOS)

A while back I made a file recovery video and in that one I've used a program named TestDisk. Although many of you guys find it helpful, I kinda skipped over some basics. And, it raised some questions. To address them and further explain the data recovery process, I decide to create this video. So I hope you find it helpful.

How to recover encrypted files using PhotoRec?

In this video, we'll show you how to restore lost or encrypted files (photos, videos, docs, and others) using the free PhotoRec tool.

Bottom line

PhotoRec for Windows is a single-purpose data recovery application that delivers excellent value thanks to its open-source license and an appealing price tag of exactly $0.

Compared with commercial data recovery applications, PhotoRec offers almost nothing in terms of extra features, and the software also falls short when it comes to usability. 

If you decide to give PhotoRec a try, then we recommend you start with QPhotoRec because it has a convenient graphical user interface. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some commonly asked questions about PhotoRec.

PhotoRec is used to recover hundreds of different file formats (not just photos) from Windows, macOS, and Linux storage devices.

On Windows, you don’t have to install PhotoRec at all because the application is portable, so all you have to do is extract its files and launch the main executable.

Yes, PhotoRec is open source and completely free, so you can use it to recover an unlimited amount of data.

Both TestDisk and PhotoRec are data recovery applications developed by CGSecurity. The purpose of TestDisk is to repair damaged file systems so that files can be recovered with metadata intact. PhotoRec, on the other hand, assumes that the file system can’t be repaired, so it uses different methods to recover lost data.

The latest version of PhotoRec can recover over 400 file extensions, including photos, videos, audio, office documents, file archives, and more.

Yes, PhotoRec can recover many popular video file formats.

When PhotoRec encounters a corrupted file system, it performs a signature-based scan to find and recover as many files as possible. However, not all corrupted files that can be recovered are guaranteed to be openable.

No, PhotoRec isn’t designed to recover the folder structure. To do that, you can use its sister application, TestDisk.

When you launch PhotoRec, it typically prompts you to select a destination for the recovered files. By default, PhotoRec saves the recovered files in subdirectories named “recup_dir”. These folders are created automatically within the same directory where you ran PhotoRec.

👍 Worth a try

PhotoRec for Windows Review: Intimidating but Worth It
3.36

Out of 5 Total score

No. 14 Among all Windows solutions

PhotoRec may have a steeper learning curve than most commercial data recovery software applications, but the value it offers is hard to ignore, and its data recovery performance isn’t bad either.

Visit developer's website
PhotoRec Logo
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David Morelo
Author

David Morelo is a professional content writer with a specialization in data recovery. He spends his days helping users from around the world recover from data loss and address the numerous issues associated with it.

When not writing about data recovery techniques and solutions, he enjoys tinkering with new technology, working on personal projects, exploring the world on his bike, and, above all else, spending time with his family.

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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.

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