Recuva Review: Popular but Flawed Windows Data Recovery Software


Out of 5 Total Score

No. 17 Among all Windows solutions

Price range $0...$34.95 • CCleaner • Windows

Last update on

Recuva offers a beginner-friendly approach to data recovery, with the added bonus of free unlimited recovery. But, how good could it really be if it’s free? We’ve taken an extensive look at everything Recuva has to offer in this full review.

Karma 53% - Karma


Bang for the buck 76% - Bang for the buck


Bang for the buck
Recovery performance 31% - Recovery performance


Recovery performance
Usability 61% - Usability


Extras 20% - Extras



Top Pros

  • Completely free. Scan and restore unlimited files for free.

  • Chances of recovery. There are algorithms in the program that can give an estimate of the file's recovery.

  • Two operating modes. There are two operating modes - simple and advanced.

  • Secure file erase. Recuva can zeroize found files in 4 different ways so that they cannot be recovered later.

  • Multilingual capabilities. The program supports the largest number of languages among data recovery tools.

  • Scanner settings. You can set up exactly what to look for, what scanners to use, and what you see after the scan.

  • Integration into the system. Integration into the system context menu for fast search of deleted files.

  • Fast scanning. The program scans data fast and shows final results.

  • Resource-intensive. The program does not require powerful hardware to perform scans.

  • Small size. The installed application and the installation file take very little space.

  • Supports shadow copies. Scan a shadow copy of your system drive.

  • Runs multiple instances. You can run multiple instances of Recuva at the same time.

  • Partially restores file structure. Can partially restore structure and filenames of FAT32/NTFS partitions after deletion or formatting.

Top Cons

  • No Enterprise license. Recuva cannot be used commercially.

  • Scanning/creation of images. Scanning and creation of images is available only in the paid version.

  • Recovering structure and names. In general, scans that support restoring the folder trees and file names either do not work at all or have a large number of errors.

  • Recovery odds accuracy. The accuracy of recovery odds is inaccurate and often causes the application to crash.

  • Updating the list of drives. The program often does not update the list of drives in the system automatically and you have to restart it to see the newly mapped drive.

  • Scan the whole disk. The program can scan only partitions. No way to scan the whole disk.

  • Unmountable disks. Disks with a RAW filesystem or those which do not mount to the system cannot be scanned at all. The program always needs to have a file system to start scanning.

  • The project is abandoned. Recuva is no longer being developed and stopped updating a long time ago. The last update was in the 2016.

  • Interface. The interface is very outdated and in no way user-friendly.

  • Preview. Preview options are very limited. In most cases, it supports up to 5 formats that can be previewed.

  • Switching views. Switching the tree view of found files is not intuitive and is only found in the right-click context menu.

  • Limited signatures. The program has a very small set of signatures that it can detect. The signatures haven't been updated for a long time and cannot find modern video and photo file formats.

  • Convenient scanning. The application does not allow you to customize the scan to account for bad sectors. It is also unable to resume a scan that was started on removable media that has been disconnected then reconnected.

  • Additional functionality. Recuva doesn’t include any additional functionality that are commonly found in modern tools that aid in searching for deleted data.

  • Knowledge base. The program has a limited knowledge base on the site.

  • Support. There is no online chat or support phone number on the site. It also takes a little time to find how to contact the developer by mail.

  • Windows 11 support. Support for Windows 11 is not officially rated in the list of supported operating systems.

  • Crashes. Very often the scanning of modern digital data like photos or video causes the program to crash. The program may hang when calculating the chances of recovery and does not inform the user about what is happening.

  • Managed by CCleaner. There are a lot of promotions for CCleaner, which some find controversial as malware was found in the software in 2017.

Top Competitors


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Recuva Data Recovery Wizard for Windows – Overview


Recuva has only just started to receive very minor updates in 2022, but it hasn’t received a major update since way back in 2016. Even so, it is still fully functional on the latest version of Windows. It supports an impressive number of languages and comes with a small download size of just over 7MB. Let’s take a brief look at what we know about Recuva before exploring everything it has to offer.


Distributed as Freeware All features are provided free of charge without any limitations
Trial version available
Trial version limitations

With trial version you can:

  • Do advanced file recovery
Paid plans
  • Professional
  • Professional bundle
Price range $0...$34.95
License model Subscription + Lifetime
No credit card to try
Money back guarantee

Recuva’s biggest appeal would arguably be its affordability. You can download it for free and immediately get access to its recovery features. It also has a Professional license that renews yearly, which gives you access to virtual hard drive support, automatic updates, and premium support. If you’re looking for a data recovery solution that allows unlimited recovery for free, Recuva is a great choice.

Pricing details

11 Year Premium Subscription $19.95
  • Advanced file recovery
  • Virtual hard drive support
  • Automatic updates
  • Premium support
11 Year subscription $34.95

Everything in Recuva Professional plus:

  • CCleaner Professional
  • Defraggler Professional
  • Speccy Professional

Discounts and coupons

Dealschief Promotional Offer

25% OFF Recuva Professional.

Get the Deal
Have you found a better discount coupon and would like to share it with our readers? Then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, and we’ll update this section promptly.

Developer — Piriform Software Ltd.

Piriform Software is well-known for its inclination to provide quality tools at an affordable price. Popularly known for its cleaning tool, CCleaner, which is also available for free, Piriform Software strives to release software that’s simple but effective.

10% 697.3% than avg

Online market share

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

34000 1094% than avg

Brand name popularity

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

In 2017, Piriform Software Ltd. was acquired by Avast, the cybersecurity software company responsible for the popular antivirus tools Avast and AVG. Avast has a rich history in the technology sector and shares a common interest in developing accessible and high-quality software. Considering Piriform is now managed by Avast, concerns over data privacy are rare, as Avast is very prominent in the cybersecurity space and tech industry as a whole.

Developer website
Support email

2004 • 19 years on market

HQ location

110 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JS, United Kingdom

Social media

Piriform is active on social media, often opting to use the name CCleaner since that is their most popular product. In addition to their online knowledge base, you can reach them by email for support. If you have a Professional license, you will receive priority support. The CCleaner Community Forums are also quite active if you want to ask for support from the community.

Recuva Data Recovery Process

Tested on: Windows 11 (version 21H2)

To provide an honest look at the recovery capabilities of Recuva, we’ve tested it in a real-life data loss scenario to see how it performs. Next, we’ll look at everything from the installation process to the final results.

How We Test

Making an informed decision when choosing a data recovery tool is crucial. When your data is lost, it's in a very vulnerable state, so it's important you choose a tool that can accomplish what you need.

Our data recovery professionals extensively test each data recovery tool to provide transparent, real-world feedback that aims to provide an unbiased view of what is done good and what could be improved.

Here is a brief run-down of how we tested Recuva.

1InstallationWe downloaded and installed the latest version of Recuva to our Windows machine that's used for testing.
2Source selectionWe compile several data sets according to the file formats that Recuva supports, which will later be copied to virtual hard drives.
3Scanning processData sets are copied to the virtual hard drives. The virtual hard drives are scanned for fragmentation. Following confirmation that the data is intact, the file system is erased.
4Managing found dataRecuva is used to scan and recover data from the virtual hard drives that had their file system erased.
5Recovery and post-processingFollowing the recovery process by Recuva, the recovered data is manually analyzed and compared to the original versions to check for preservation and usability. Additionally, we check how much data was found and recovered.

In addition to a signature scan, we also test the effectiveness of quick and clever deep scan types, both of which focus on recovering data using the file system to restore the data and its original folder structure. They also support the recovery of fragmented data, which is not possible with a signature scan.

We also take into account what we think brings value to the application as a whole, such as support, usability, and additional features, all of which are reflected in our final rating.

Step 1


Once you've downloaded the Recuva installation file, installation is fast and easy.

The first screen allows you to customize your installation. You will get the standard options of creating Desktop and Start Menu shortcuts, with two other options for adding recovery options to the context menu of the Recycle Bin and Explorer. Furthermore, you'll have the option of choosing where you want to install it.

Once you choose to install, the process is over in a few seconds. You'll be given the option to launch Recuva, as well as open the release notes to see what has been added.

Step 2

Source selection

Recuva has a slightly different approach when it comes to defining the parameters of your scan. It employs a wizard-like interface that guides you through selecting the type of files you want to scan for, as well as where they were located. This allows you to refine your search down so far that you can scan specific folders. On the final screen, you can choose to use a deep scan in order to pull as much data as you can.

This approach is great for users who aren't familiar with data recovery, as it takes you through step-by-step without filling the window with complicated jargon. If you're not a fan of being guided through this part of the process, you can click Cancel at any time to be taken straight into the main Recuva interface. 

Step 3

Scanning process

When the scan has started, you'll be given an estimation of how long it will take. However, this process is split into three stages. The estimated time you're given is only for a particular stage, meaning you're not given an expectation of how long the entire process will take.

As the scan progresses through each stage, it will give you an indication of how many files it has found and a percentage showing the total completion of that stage. Once finished, you will be taken straight to the window that shows all of the discovered files.

Step 4

Managing found files

Recuva has three modes you can view the discovered files in, which are List View, Tree View, and Thumbnails View (though these options are hidden in the right-click menu). You can sort results by name, path, last modified date, size, state, and comment.

This is also where you can make use of Recuva's secure delete feature, which overwrites selected data to decrease the chances of recovering it. This is useful if you want to effectively delete sensitive data and can be done simply by right-clicking a file and selecting Secure Overwrite Highlighted.

Using the advanced mode, you can use a search bar to filter through the results based on the file type. Additionally, this also allows access to the preview window which displays a small preview of the selected file if one is available.

You can mark files for recovery by checking the box next to each file. When ready, click Recover at the bottom-right of the window.

Step 5

Recovery and post-processing

The final recovery step is easy. After clicking Recover, you'll be asked to choose where you want the files to go. After the files are recovered, you'll be given an overview of how many files were recovered and how long it took to complete.


Recuva Tutorials and Other Videos

To help you see the entire process, check out some of these insightful tutorials that cover the use of Recuva.

HOW TO RECOVER FILES FORMATTED CARD||recuva data recovery software

Here is a quickest way to recover your files from a formatted memory card, hard drive etc using recuva data recovery software.

Recover & Restore Deleted Files With Recuva

Accidentally deleted an important file? Lost files after a computer crash? No problem - Recuva recovers files from your Windows computer, recycle bin, digital camera card, or MP3 player!

Recuva – Full Review

Now, we break down Recuva and review it against the criteria we use to produce our final rating. We take an objective look at the different areas surrounding Recuva to determine how effective it is and what value it can bring to you alongside its ability to recover data.

Karma 53% by 12 rating criteria



12 rating criteria

Recuva receives a below-average Karma score of 47%. This metric is based on the below factors, including customer support, operating system support, and update frequency.

The lowest contributing areas are updates and customer support. Recuva hasn’t received any major updates since 2016, with the updates in 2022 only being related to data usage reporting and license delivery. While the software is still usable, it shows users that Piriform isn’t actively working on it to optimize it or introduce new features. As for customer support, even if you have a Professional license, you’re limited to a single email channel.

1Update frequency
More than 6 months
2Updated recently
3Changelog available
4Latest Windows release supported
Nope, Windows 10 and older
5Genuine or clone?
6Brand name popularity
7Online market share
9Extensive knowledge base
10Helpdesk support
Not available
11Live chat
Not available
12Phone support
Bang for the buck 76% by 8 rating criteria


Bang for the buck

8 rating criteria

We circle back to one of Recuva’s strongest benefits – the price. It scores a 76%, as it’s a free-to-use tool that allows you to perform unlimited recovery, forever. A Professional subscription-based license is available, though only with a few added benefits.

It loses a few points as it doesn’t come with any free upgrades (like access to other Piriform tools) with the subscription option and the free version can’t be used for commercial recovery. However, these two areas are minor when you consider it’s a full recovery solution without a price tag.

1Competitive pricing
2Price-quality ratio
3Free trial
Yes (unlimited recovery)
4Is it free?
5Pricing policy
Free + One subscription plan option
6Unlimited recovery in full version
7Free upgrades
8Commercial rights in the cheapest license
Usability 61% by 18 rating criteria



18 rating criteria

Usability refers to how user-intuitive Recuva’s recovery process is and what features are included that add to the overall quality of life. It’s just above halfway, scoring 63%.

While Recuva gives you access to the basics like sorting through results, thumbnail previews, and searching for specific files, it uses a slightly outdated user interface and doesn’t support more advanced features like performing multiple scan types without user input. 

1Modern user-friendly interface
2Dark mode
3Easy-to-locate features
4Automatic implementation of multiple appropriate scanning methods without user interaction
5Auto-resuming scans of failing drives
6Auto-resuming backups of failing drives
7Convenient source selection on start
8Convenient file-by-file preview of recoverable items
9Convenient thumbnail preview of recoverable items
10Mount recoverable items as disk
11Built-in updater
12Multiple view modes in scan results
A few
13Hex view for recoverable items
14Filter recoverable items by type
15Search recoverable items by file names
16Sort results
17Multilingual UI
18Simple deployment
Recovery performance 31% by 122 rating criteria


Recovery performance

122 rating criteria

Following the recovery of our data, Recuva only scored a 31% in terms of performance. It struggled to find all of the lost data, but it was still able to recover quite a bit.

In our tests, we commonly found that the folder structure was corrupted upon recovery. This resulted in all files being clumped together without organization. Scan speeds were good, averaging between 100-200MB/sec. The majority of our photos and videos were either not found or corrupted after recovery. Of all file types recovered, documents were the most successful, with a success rate of around 57%.

1Deep scan
Recuva was only able to recover files from our formatted FAT32 partitions. The original folder structure was corrupted.
2Quick scan
You cannot quickly recover recently deleted files from HFS+, APFS, or EXT4 partitions.
3Other types of scan
Recuva cannot scan or recover lost partitions. However, it does allow you to mount and scan disk images for lost data.
4Device support
Hard drives, solid-state drives, flash drives and memory cards are supported, but not mobile devices or RAID configurations.
5Real-life recovery challenge
Photos and videos were the least successful in terms of recovery. Documents were the most successful.
6Other notable recovery features
There aren't many additional features that stand out aside from Recuva's secure delete option.

Clever scan

1HFS+ partitions
2APFS partitions
3FAT32 partitions
4exFAT partitions
5NTFS partitions
6EXT4 partitions

Recuva is only available on Windows, so it is unable to recover from Apple or Linux partition types, such as HFS+, APFS, EXT4. During our tests, there was some success recovering from FAT32 partitions, however, all root data was missing and the folder structure was damaged. No data could be recovered from ExFAT or NTFS partitions.

Quick scan

1HFS+ partitions
2APFS partitions
3FAT32 partitions
4exFAT partitions
5NTFS partitions
6EXT4 partitions

Our quick scan had slightly more success than the clever scan. As HFS+, APFS, and EXT4 partitions are not supported, our focus was on Windows-related partitions, including FAT32, ExFAT, and NTFS. The results were mildly successful, despite the FAT32 scan returning with a missing folder structure. 

Other scan types

1The number of formats supported by deep scan
2BitLocker support
3Windows shadow copies scanning
4Scan for lost partitions
5Recovered files' labeling
6Partial file recovery
7Disk images: scan and recovery

Recuva allows you to mount and scan disk images to preserve the state of your original drive. It also supports recovery from BitLocker-encrypted drives after a password is provided. However, it cannot scan for lost partitions and its deep scan feature only supports a limited number of file types.

Device Support

1Internal and external HDD
2Internal and external SSD
3USB thumb drives / Classic iPods (non-iOS) / FireWire devices
4Memory cards
5iOS devices
6Android devices
7Recovery from RAID1, 0, JBOD
8Unmountable partitions
9Remote SSH (secure shell protocol) Linux based devices recovery
10NAS (Network-attached storage) RAID devices

Recuva supports recovery from hard drives and solid-state drives (internal and external), flash drives, and memory cards. It cannot recover data from mobile devices or RAID configurations.

Real-life recovery challenges

1Document formats recovery
2Raw photo recovery
3Video formats recovery
Raw photo recovery

You may be disappointed to find that many image file types could not be recovered. A large portion of the DNG files suffered from corruption. Moreover, all recovered 3FR images were in TIFF format.

Video formats recovery

There was little success recovering video formats. MOV, AVI, and 360 formats had the most success. However, much like the photos, Recuva was unable to discover the majority of video file formats and some files suffered from corruption.

Document formats recovery

Documents saw relatively more success. A lot more file types were found, with DOC, DOCX, ODS, PDF, PPT, PPTX, and RTF having the highest success rate. Many documents were found as zipped files, but upon renaming, most opened fine.

Other notable recovery features

1Overall non-intrusive read-only algorithms
2Network recovery
3Effectively filters out corrupted scan results
4Byte-to-byte device backups
5Bootable recovery drive creation
6Convenient scan session management
7Bad sector management
8Recovery chance prediction
9RAID reconstructor
10Disk vitals monitoring and tracking during scan
11Data protection
12Links to in-lab recovery service for physically damaged devices
13Scan speed
14Scan free space only
15Start file recovery without interrupting the scan
16Preview recoverable items without interrupting the scan
17Forensic features

Recuva doesn’t have much else to offer. This isn’t surprising considering the low price point. Scan times are fast and you are given the option of creating byte-to-byte backups with the paid version. It also has a recovery chance indicator, though it is slightly inaccurate.

Extras 20% by 10 rating criteria



10 rating criteria

The sole purpose of Recuva is data recovery. Piriform has developed other applications that would otherwise tick some of these boxes, but Recuva doesn’t come with a lot extra. While this does contribute to a smaller file size, it would be nice to see some small additions, like a S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring tool.

1Disk space mapping
Not supported.
2Disk clean up
Not supported.
3Corrupted video repair tool
Not supported.
4Corrupted photo repair tool
Not supported.
Not supported.
6Duplicate finder
Not supported.
7Built-in disk space secure eraser
Not supported.
8Disk cloning
Not supported.
9Disk surface test
Not supported.
10Secure data shredding
Secure delete can overwrite sensitive data so there's less chance of recovery.

As long as Recuva remains a free tool, the inclusion of additional features in the future seems unlikely. But, the secure delete feature does deserve some praise, as it’s not a commonly seen feature among data recovery tools.

What Users Say about Recuva

When I accidentally deleted photos of a house fire that the insurance company needed I panicked but found a program that helped. If you go to there is a program called Recuva. It was able to find and restore the deleted photos.

Teyeger (Vaccinated & Masked)

Spent all day on Friday painting 4 paintings for a video and then decided to transfer the footage yesterday, it got half way through the transfer and I casually went into the folder and deleted all the files before it completed and lost all of the footage, recuva didn't work


Ultimately, Piriform Recuva is up there with the best data recovery programs we’ve tested. The free version is great for those who want to test the software before purchasing, and annual subscriptions are very competitively priced.

We like Recuva for its low cost, its clear interface, and its ease of use, but it only recovered two-thirds of the deleted files on my test drive, and that kind of performance may not be good enough in a crisis.

Bottom line

If you’re strapped for cash and need a fully functional data recovery tool that offers unlimited recovery, Recuva definitely deserves consideration, though be sure to set your expectations accordingly.

When compared to other data recovery tools on the market, Recuva has a much lower success rate and fails to find uncommon file types. Of the data it recovered during our tests, a lot of it was damaged. Moreover, it was common for the folder structure to be corrupted, resulting in a huge list of unorganized files.

It deserves some recognition for its fast scan times, as well as its secure delete feature, which isn’t often seen in other tools. But, these features alone are not enough to disregard its shortcomings in other areas.

Overall, if you have nothing else, Recuva is worth trying. Although, in a real-world situation where success is imperative, we would place our trust in other tools that’ve proven their reliability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find the answers to commonly asked questions surrounding Recuva.

Recuva is a free data recovery tool that was developed by Piriform Software Ltd. It can be used to search for and recover lost or deleted data from your hard drives, solid-state drives, flash storage, and memory cards.

If you’ve deleted a file by accident that isn’t easily recovered from the Recycle Bin or a previously made backup, Recuva can scan your drive and effectively undelete the data.

While Recuva’s interface may be slightly outdated, it’s still very easy to use, even for beginners. Follow these steps to perform a basic recovery:

  1. Click Next after opening Recuva.
  2. Select what types of files you want to recover.
  3. Select where you’d like Recuva to scan for lost data.
  4. Choose whether you want to make this a deep scan, then press Start.
  5. Once the scan is complete, mark what files you want to recover, then press Recover.
  6. Choose the location for recovery and press OK.

In terms of performance, Recuva leaves a lot to be desired. During our tests, Recuva was unable to find a lot of the data we had deleted. Following recovery, a lot of files were also corrupted and the folder structure was lost in some instances.

While it definitely can recover data, it doesn’t perform quite as well as other paid alternatives on the market. But, since it’s free, it’s a good choice for those who want to try it out.

The time a deep scan takes in Recuva depends on the size of your drive and how old it is. Large drives that you’ve used heavily will contain a lot of data, resulting in a longer scan time. Typically, deep scans on large drives can take a few hours, with some taking up to 24 hours.

Recuva Professional is the paid subscription version of Recuva. It renews yearly and gives you the added benefit of premium support, virtual hard drive support, and automatic updates. 

Once you’ve finished recovering files using Recuva, you simply need to navigate to the specific output folder you chose when performing recovery. Unfortunately, Recuva doesn’t give you a shortcut following successful recovery, so you will need to navigate there manually.

Once there, you can open your files like normal. If your file has sustained some sort of damage, like corruption, the file may no longer be usable and may present an error message when opened.

We experienced crashes when using Recuva. We found that this occurred when scanning more modern photo and video file types. Recuva also hangs when calculating the chances of recovery. This could be attributed to Recuva’s age and lack of updates, seeing as it hasn’t received an update since 2016.

Meh... 🤨

Recuva Review: Popular but Flawed Windows Data Recovery Software

Out of 5 Total score

No. 17 Among all Windows solutions

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.

Visit developer website
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Jordan Jamieson-Mane

Jordan Jamieson-Mane is a content writer with a focus on technology-related content. He has spent much of his life studying and working with all types of technology. During his time as a writer, he has written countless articles in the field of data recovery, breaking down complex topics into articles that are easy to understand.

When he's not writing articles on data recovery, Jordan enjoys traveling the world, reading books, and building websites.

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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.

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