|1.53.2083 Released 15th Jun, 2022||Current version||4.5.616 Released 4th Aug, 2022|
|Windows XP-10, 11 (unofficial support)||Requirements||Windows 7-11|
|Freeware. No limits||Trial version limit||Recover up to 500 MB for free|
|Freeware||Starting Price||$89.00 / PerpetualLifetime|
|0 Found files|
|Found files and Recovery quality||176,000 Found files|
Price is among the most important choice criteria for people who want to recover lost data at home using data recovery software. The two applications we’re comparing today, Recuva and Disk Drill for Windows, can both recover permanently deleted files for free, but only one of them is completely unlimited.
If you think that the unlimited data recovery software application should automatically win by default, then read this review from start to finish to find out why free doesn’t always mean the right choice.
Recuva is the most commonly recommended free and unlimited data recovery software application for Windows. The software has been around long enough for most Windows users to at least hear about it. For this reason alone, Recuva is often the first solution users try when faced with a data loss issue.
Disk Drill for Windows has emerged as a leading freemium data recovery software for Windows. The free version can recover up to 500 MB of data and preview an unlimited number of recoverable files. If you need to go beyond the limit, you can purchase a perpetual license for $89.00.
Top Recuva 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.
Top Disk Drill Pros
Two for one. When you buy Disk Drill for Windows, you also unlock Disk Drill for Mac.
Visualization of the scanning process. The scanning process is visualized in real time, with information about the number of scanned files and the time remaining available at a glance.
Mount results as a virtual disk. The results of all scans can be mounted as a virtual disk and browsed using File Explorer.
Top Recuva 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.
Top Disk Drill Cons
Phone support. No phone number to call for support is provided.
Linux and Apple file systems. Very limited support for Linux and Apple filesystems. Often only the signature scan mode works.
RAID. Limited RAID support.
Pricing • Business model
|2||Trial version available|
|3||Trial version limitations||Freeware. No limits||Recover up to 500 MB for free|
|4||Number of devices per license|
|5||Starting price||Free||$89.00/ Perpetual|
|6||License model||Subscription + Lifetime||Lifetime|
|7||No credit card to try|
|8||Money back guarantee|
|9||See Plans & Pricing||Pricing details||Pricing details|
Technically, both Recuva and Disk Drill are freemium software applications because some features require you to enter a valid license to become available. In practice, the paid version of Recuva is often ignored because the extra features it unlocks have little to no value. Disk Drill, on the other hand, is a true freemium application because you need a license to recover an unlimited amount of data.
The premium features included in Recuva Professional are virtual hard drive support, automatic updates, and priority support. Virtual hard drive support is something not many Windows users will ever need. Automatic updates would be nice to have if there were any important updates to install, but, sadly, Recuva’s development seems to be in a state of hibernation. Finally, there’s priority support, which is rarely needed because Recuva is straightforward and simple.
Data Recovery Performance
To determine how well can Recuva and Disk Drill solve real-world data loss scenarios, we’ve performed a series of tests, and the table below summarizes our results.
Scan of File Systems
|8||Windows shadow copies scanning|
While Recuva should technically be able to fully restore deleted files from all file systems supported by the Windows operating system, the reality is much bleaker. We had some success only when recovering data from FAT32 partitions, but all root data was missing, and the folder structure was damaged. In other words, the software recovered no files at all.
Recuva can restore the original folder structure and file names only when the recovery process is started right after basic formatting, but that’s something all modern data recovery software tools can do, which is why our tests don’t focus on this scenario. Instead, they focus on partition loss, something Disk Drill can handle without any issues.
The right combination of features can make it possible even for complete novices to recover lost data at home while giving more advanced users everything they need to reliably protect and efficiently manage their data. Let’s see what Recuva and Disk Drill have to offer.
|53% Average score||89% Average score|
|4||Latest Windows release supported|
|5||Genuine or clone?|
|6||Brand name popularity|
|7||Online market share|
|9||Extensive knowledge base|
|61% Average score||96% Average score|
|1||Modern user-friendly interface|
|4||Automatic implementation of multiple appropriate scanning methods without user interaction|
|5||Auto-resuming scans of failing drives|
|6||Auto-resuming backups of failing drives|
|7||Convenient source selection on start|
|8||Convenient file-by-file preview of recoverable items|
|9||Convenient thumbnail preview of recoverable items|
|10||Mount recoverable items as disk|
|12||Multiple view modes in scan results|
|13||Hex view for recoverable items|
|14||Filter recoverable items by type|
|15||Search recoverable items by file names|
|54% Average score||77% Average score|
|1||Internal and external HDD|
|2||Internal and external SSD|
|3||USB thumb drives / Classic iPods (non-iOS) / FireWire devices|
|7||Recovery from RAID1, 0, JBOD|
|31% Average score||80% Average score|
|1||Clever in-depth scan|
|3||Other notable recovery features|
|4||Other types of scan|
|6||Real-life recovery challenge|
Real-life recovery challenge
|31% Average score||86% Average score|
|1||Document formats recovery|
|2||Raw photo recovery|
|3||Video formats recovery|
Other notable recovery features
|29% Average score||61% Average score|
|1||Overall non-intrusive read-only algorithms|
|3||Effectively filters out corrupted scan results|
|4||Byte-to-byte device backups|
|5||Bootable recovery drive creation|
|6||Convenient scan session management|
|7||Bad sector management|
|8||Recovery chance prediction|
|10||Disk vitals monitoring and tracking during scan|
|12||Links to in-lab recovery service for physically damaged devices|
|14||Scan free space only|
|15||Start file recovery without interrupting the scan|
|16||Preview recoverable items without interrupting the scan|
|20% Average score||20% Average score|
|1||Disk space mapping|
|2||Disk clean up|
|3||Corrupted video repair tool|
|4||Corrupted photo repair tool|
|7||Built-in disk space secure eraser|
|9||Disk surface test|
|10||Secure data shredding|
Our feature comparison is broken down into several categories. The Karma category is all about the software’s reputation, popularity, and support. Here, Disk Drill leads by a wide margin because Recuva hasn’t received a major update in ages. While the software still runs on the latest version of Windows, it no longer looks as modern as it once used to.
That’s why Recuva also didn’t receive nearly as many usability points as Disk Drill. The application doesn’t automatically run all available recovery methods with a simple click, and it can’t resume interrupted scans. Browsing scan results can also be a pain because the available view/sort options are limited.
Moving on to device support. Here, Disk Drill comes on top because it can recover data from RAID arrays and unmountable partitions. Unfortunately, neither of the two data recovery software applications can recover data from iOS and Android devices.
All of our recovery performance tests and real-life recovery challenges confirmed the superiority of Disk Drill. Not only can you expect Disk Drill to find more lost files, but the application can also find them quicker and more conveniently because it includes a number of extra recovery features, such as its convenient scan session management.
You can even use Disk Drill to protect your data against future data loss, and you should definitely do that because prevention is worth more than a pound of cure when it comes to data recovery.
The conclusion is clear: free data recovery software applications like Recuva may be attractive, but they’re not always up to the task. The developers of Disk Drill are determined to deliver the best recovery performance combined with excellent usability and a wide range of extra features, and they know that it would be impossible for them to achieve their goal without charging money for their product. Their approach seems to be working because Disk Drill is the best software of its kind, and we can wholeheartedly recommend it to all Windows users who have lost important data and want to recover it for as little money as possible.
More software comparisons
We keep expanding our data recovery software comparison library to make it easier for our readers to choose the best solution available. Below are several other comparisons that you may find interesting.