TestDisk Review – Can This Repair Tool Recover Lost Files?


Out of 5 Total Score

No. 19 Among all Windows solutions

Price range - free • CGSecurity • Windows

Last update on

TestDisk is one of the most misunderstood data recovery tools because it doesn’t focus on individual files but on entire partitions and the numerous potential issues associated with them. Despite this, many Windows users have attempted to use it to recover lost documents, videos, photos, and other files, and this review evaluates TestDisk through this lens. 

Karma 37% - Karma


Bang for the buck 100% - Bang for the buck


Bang for the buck
Recovery performance 10% - Recovery performance


Recovery performance
Usability 4% - Usability


Extras 0% - Extras



Top Pros

  • Completely free. You do not need to buy a license to restore files. TestDisk is completely free.

  • Open source. The application is open source, so you can review and even modify its source code.

  • Portable. You don’t have to install the software to use it.

  • Lightweight. TestDisk runs well even on very old computers because it doesn’t require much processing power and RAM.

  • Supports raw and dismounted disks. The program can scan disks that don’t have a file system and can’t be mounted.

  • Recovers lost file systems. In many cases, TestDisk can recover lost file systems by repairing the underlying issue.

  • Specialized. TestDisk focuses on the repair of logically damaged storage devices to help users recover lost partitions, and you would be hard-pressed to find another tool (especially free one) that can recover lost partitions and make disk bootable again better.

  • Multi-platform. You can run TestDisk on all major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.

  • Included in bootable recovery and repair tools. TestDisk is included in such popular bootable recovery and repair tools as Hiren's BootCD.

  • Can fix an operating system that won't boot. Issues with the operating system not booting properly are often caused by file system damage affecting the master boot record, and you have a good chance to fix it with TestDisk.

Top Cons

  • Slow speed of scanning and recovery. The application is very slow, and you can expect to wait more than 24 hours for a scan to finish and your files to be recovered.

  • Complicated command-line user interface. The command-line user interface is intimidating and takes some time to get used to.

  • Manual step-by-step scanning process. To scan a storage device using TestDisk, you need to go through a series of steps in order to select the storage device and configure important scan parameters. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, it can be easy to get confused.

  • Destructive recovery. TestDisk in some cases writes data directly to the disk that’s being repaired or recovered. As such, an unsuccessful recovery can lead to even more damage.

  • No technical support. The application is a one-man project, and the only place you can get technical support is the official forum, but there’s no guarantee that your questions will receive replies.

  • Can’t restore data after formatting. It’s impossible to recover data after formatting using TestDisk because the software focuses on file system repair.

  • No signature scanner. TestDisk doesn’t contain a signature scanner component, so it can’t recover files whose file system references have been deleted or damaged.

  • Rarely updated. The developer of TestDisk doesn’t release updates for its software often.

  • Source selection. The average user may find it difficult to do something as basic as selecting the right source for scanning.

  • Poor usability. The command-line user interface of TestDisk doesn’t let you filter scan results or search and preview specific files, resulting in poor usability.

  • No S.M.A.R.T. support. The application can’t show the heath of connected storage devices because it doesn’t support S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

  • Lack of hints. Some options provided by TestDisk are not easy to understand, and the application doesn’t provide hints to make them clearer.

Top Competitors


Score 4.54 89%

Best choice for Windows users

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TestDisk for Windows – Overview


Its official website describes TestDisk as “powerful free data recovery software”, highlighting its ability to recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again. While true, the description has created a lot of confusion because most other data recovery software applications can recognize and recover lost files based on their file signatures—something TestDisk can’t do. 

Signature-based file recovery is typically performed after formatting when other data recovery methods can’t deliver satisfactory results. The developer of TestDisk signature scanning capabilities in another application called PhotoRec.


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

TestDisk is powerful free data recovery software

No credit card to try

Thanks to its GNU General Public License (GPL v2+), you can copy, distribute, and/or modify TestDisk for free as long as you track changes/dates in source files. The application is completely unlimited, so you can use it to recover as many files as you need without ever being prompted to purchase a license or subscription. 

Developer — Christophe GRENIER

TestDisk is a one-man project, developed by Christophe Grenier, a respected software developer based in France. Grenier is also behind TestDisk’s sibling application, PhotoRec. 

5% 209.9% 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).

7000 84.9% than avg

Brand name popularity

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

TestDisk enjoys a decent amount of online traffic in the data recovery software niche, and we believe that its popularity has a lot to do with its free price and open-source license.

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

2008 • 15 years on market

HQ location

GlobalSP, 78 rue la Condamine, 75017 PARIS, France

Social media

Considering that TestDisk is a non-commercial project of a single software developer (with contributions from independent developers from around the world), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its developer doesn’t spend much effort on social media marketing, doing only the bare minimum to maintain at least some social media presence. 

Data Recovery with TestDisk for Windows

Tested on: Windows 11 (21H2)

In this section of our TestDisk review, we provide a detailed step-by-step description of a data recovery job performed using TestDisk. 

How We Test

When testing data recovery software like TestDisk, we always follow the same steps so that obtained results can be used for comparison purposes. 

1InstallationFirst, we install the tested application on a dedicated computer.
2Source selectionThen, we use the application to scan a storage device we use only for review purposes.
3Scanning processWe monitor the scanning process to evaluate its speed and user-friendliness.
4Managing found dataNext, we analyze the found data to see how many of our test files are recoverable.
5Recovery and post-processingFinally, we recover our test files and check their integrity.

The steps below represent only one iteration of our testing process. We always repeat the same process multiple times, with slight variations depending on the application’s features.

Step 1


It can be a bit of a challenge to install TestDisk on macOS and even Linux (depending on your distribution), but Windows users face no such difficulties. They can simply download TestDisk from its official website, unpack the downloaded archive, and launch the TestDisk executable, which is exactly what we did.  TestDisk always launches in the default terminal emulator.

Step 2

Source selection

Before we could select the storage device we wanted to scan, we had to make one fairly unimportant decision: whether we wanted to create a new log file or not. We decided to create one because we were curious to see how comprehensive it would be (answer: a lot). 

Once that was done, we could choose the storage device using the arrow keys and the Enter key. TestDisk displayed the name, maximum, and current capacity of each device. We were then asked to confirm the partition table type. Usually, you can simply press Enter to continue because TestDisk attempts to detect it for you. We were then ready to start analyzing the current partition structure and searching for lost partitions. 

Step 3

Scanning process

After we selected the Analyze option, TestDisk displayed the partition structure of the storage device and gave us the option to perform a Quick Search for lost partitions, which we initiated. The tool managed to find one partition.

We then continued with a Deeper Search, whose purpose is to also search for FAT32 backup boot sectors, NTFS backup boot superblocks, and ext2/ext3 backup superblocks to detect more partitions, but no additional partitions were found.  

During scanning, we were able to stop the process at any time. The only problem is that a stopped scan must be started again from scratch. The scanning speed was slower than we would like it to be. 

Step 4

Managing found files

TestDisk displays the recoverable content of a found partition as a long list of files. You can see the path, creation date, and size of each file, but it's impossible to preview individual files or sort the list. 

To recover found files, you need to tell TestDisk what you want to recover. You can select files one by one, or you can select everything in one go. We decided to select everything just to see how long the recovery would take. 

TestDisk then asked us to choose a recovery destination. After we made our choice, it started copying the selected files while keeping us informed of its progress. Again, it took its time and kept us waiting longer than we expected it would. 

Step 5

Recovery and post-processing

Once TestDisk finished recovering our files, we opened the recovery folder in File Explorer to see the results. To our pleasant surprise, the selected files were there, and they were all intact. 


TestDisk for Windows – Tutorials and Other Videos

To better understand how TestDisk works, check out the videos below:

Data Recovery on a Formatted Drive with TestDisk

Data Recovery on a Formatted Drive with TestDisk

Repair the Drive | Investigating Drive Failures with TestDisk

In part three of this multi-part series, we take a look at the steps you'll take to attempt a repair of a problematic drive.

TestDisk for Windows – Full Review

As part of our comprehensive TestDisk review, we evaluated the application from every angle, and here are the results. 

Karma 37% by 12 rating criteria



12 rating criteria

The developer of TestDisk, Christophe Grenier, is highly respected not just for the software he developed but also for his beliefs in open-source software. Unfortunately, there’s only so much a single developer can accomplish (even when he receives contributions from other developers). That’s why TestDisk isn’t updated nearly as often as some other data recovery applications, and it’s also why you can’t reach dedicated customer support staff via chat or phone.  

1Update frequency
More than 6 months
2Updated recently
3Changelog available
4Latest Windows release supported
Yes, all good
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 100% by 8 rating criteria


Bang for the buck

8 rating criteria

TestDisk is completely free and open source, so the overall value it delivers is excellent regardless of whether its data recovery capabilities leave something to be desired. It’s also worth pointing out that TestDisk supports all major platforms, with all versions of the software being identical.

1Competitive pricing
2Price-quality ratio
3Free trial
Not needed
4Is it free?
5Pricing policy
6Unlimited recovery in full version
7Free upgrades
8Commercial rights in the cheapest license
Usability 4% by 18 rating criteria



18 rating criteria

Windows users can download TestDisk from its official website, unpack the downloaded archive, and double-click the TestDisk executable file inside to start using the data recovery software. Sadly, that’s where usability issues begin, and they never stop because TestDisk has a barebones command-line user interface that doesn’t make the recovery of lost data any easier for the end user—quite the opposite, in fact. 

For example, it’s not possible to filter recoverable items by type or name, and you also can’t resume failed or interrupted scans. The command-line user interface is available only in English, so non-native speakers who are not familiar with terms related to data recovery may struggle to navigate it. 

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
13Hex view for recoverable items
14Filter recoverable items by type
15Search recoverable items by file names
16Sort results
17Multilingual UI
18Simple deployment
Recovery performance 10% by 120 rating criteria


Recovery performance

120 rating criteria

As we’ve already explained, TestDisk is a unique data recovery software application because its forte is partition repair and reconstruction—not the recovery of individual permanently deleted files whose file system records have been removed.

When used to recover lost partitions, rebuild partition tables, or rewrite the Master Boot Record (MBR), TestDisk can work miracles. Most regular users, however, use the software to recover individual files, and our recovery performance tests reflect that. 

1Deep scan
TestDisk is unable to perform a Clever in-depth scan.
2Quick scan
TestDisk can undelete files from FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, ext2, and NTFS filesystems.
3Other types of scan
No other scan types are supported.
4Device support
Commonly used storage devices are supported.
5Real-life recovery challenge
Poor results.
6Other notable recovery features
TestDisk doesn't offer almost any extra features.

Clever scan

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

TestDisk isn’t designed to restore the original folder structure and files name after formatting. The best you can hope for is to recover your data from an old partition that has been deleted and replaced by a new one at another location before being formatted. In other situations involving formatting, PhotoRec is the data recovery tool you should use.

Quick scan

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

You can use TestDisk to recover recently deleted files from FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, ext2, and NTFS filesystems. Because of how the Quick scan feature works, files can only be recovered if the clusters occupied by them haven’t been reused. 

During our tests, TestDisk delivered the best results when recovering recently deleted files from NTFS-formatted partitions, followed by exFAT, and EXT4 partitions. It performed the worst when recovering FAT32 partitions. 

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

Partition recovery and repair is what TestDisk is primarily designed to do, so it’s no surprise that it excels in this regard, making it possible to recover deleted partitions, fix partition tables, and more. We just wish it didn’t stop there because then it would be far more useful as a data recovery and disk repair tool. 

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

TestDisk can recover data from all Direct Attached Storage (DAS) devices like internal and external hard drives, USB flash drives, and memory cards, and it also supports Storage Area Networks (SAN). What it doesn’t support are iOS and Android devices due to their unique data storage design. 

Real-life recovery challenges

1Raw photo recovery
2Video formats recovery
3Document formats recovery
Raw photo recovery
13fr (Hasselblad 3F raw image)
2arw (Sony alpha raw)
3bmp (bitmap image file)
4cr2 (Canon raw version 2)
5cr3 (Canon raw version 3)
6crw (Canon raw CIFF image file)
7dcr (Kodak digital camera raw)
8dng (digital negative lossless raw image)
9CinemaDNG (Blackmagic, Penelope, Pocket)
10erf (Epson raw file)
11exr (high dynamic-range file format)
12fff (Hasselblad raw image)
13gpr (GoPro raw format)
14heic (high efficiency image file format)
15iiq (intelligent image quality raw Leaf, Phase One)
16insp (panoramic image Insta360)
17jp2 (bitmap image format JPEG 2000)
18jpg (joint photographic experts group compressed image)
19kdc (Kodak digital camera raw image)
20mef (Mamiya raw image file)
21mos (Leaf and Mamiya raw image file)
22mpo (multi picture stereoscopic object file)
23mrw (Konica Minolta raw image format)
24nef (Nikon raw image file)
25nrw (Nikon raw image file)
26orf (Olympus raw format)
27pef (Pentax raw image file)
28raf (Fujifilm raw image file)
29raw (native digital camera file)
30rw2 (Panasonic LUMIX raw image file)
31rwl (Leica raw image format)
32sr2 (Sony raw 2 image file)
33srf (Sony raw file)
34srw (Samsung raw image file)
35tiff (tag image file format)
36x3f (Sigma camera raw picture file)
37x3i (Sigma super fine detail picture file)

TestDisk wasn’t able to recover any raw photo files during our tests. 

Video formats recovery
1360 (GoPRO 360 degree videos)
2ari (ARRI professional digital video camera)
3arx (ARRI professional digital video camera)
4avi (GoPRO CineForm intermediate codec)
5avi (MJPG, H.264, MSMPEG4 v2 codecs)
6braw (Blackmagic raw video file)
7insv (Insta360 panoramic AVC H.264 video file)
8insv (Insta360 panoramic HEVC HVC1 video file)
9mov (Apple ProRes 422 Proxy/LT/HQ)
10mov (Apple ProRes 4444 Raw/HQ)
11mov (advanced video coding H.264)
12mov (CineForm HD codec)
13mov (HEVC, HVC1 codecs)
14mp4 (advanced video coding H.264)
15mp4 (HEVC, HVC1, Apple ProRes codecs)
16mxf (advanced video coding H.264)
17mxf (DVCPRO HD codec)
18mxf (ARRI raw, Apple ProRes codecs)
19mxf (XDCAM HD422, HD35 MPEG2 codecs)
20r3d (Red digital camera company raw video file)
21wmv (pro raw 9 codec)

TestDisk wasn’t able to recover any video files during our tests. 

Document formats recovery
1accdb (Microsoft Access 2007+ database file)
2djvu (compressed image format)
3doc (Microsoft Word 97 – 2003 document file)
4docx (Microsoft Word 2007+ document file)
5fb2 (FictionBook 2.0 File)
6key (Apple Keynote)
7mdb (Microsoft Access 97 - 2003 database file)
8numbers (Apple Numbers)
9odp (OpenOffice presentation file format)
10ods (OpenDocument spreadsheet file format)
11odt (OpenDocument text document file format)
12pages (Apple Pages)
13pdf (portable document format)
14ppt (Microsoft Powerpoint 97 - 2003 presentation file)
15pptx (Microsoft Powerpoint 2007+ presentation file)
16rtf (rich text format)
17xls (Microsoft Excel 97 - 2003 spreadsheet file)
18xlsx (Microsoft Excel 2007+ spreadsheet file)

TestDisk wasn’t able to recover any document files during our tests. 

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

TestDisk doesn’t provide many additional recovery features, but the features it provides are extremely useful. Before you initiate the recovery process, you can create a byte-to-byte device of the entire storage device to cushion the impact of a failed recovery job. On top of its backup capabilities, TestDisk features a powerful RAID reconstructor that can make damaged RAID arrays accessible again. 

Extras 0% by 10 rating criteria



10 rating criteria

It has become common for data recovery software to come with all sorts of useful extra features to help users manage their files and keep the threat of data loss at bay. 

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
Not supported

It’s an achievement of monumental proportions for a single software developer to create something as useful and powerful as TestDisk, so we can’t blame Christophe Grenier for focusing on TestDisk’s core capabilities and not including even a single extra feature. 

What Users Say about TestDisk for Windows

Use testdisk, you can find partial and del'ed files that way. As long as it wasn't modified after the fact. It might seem a bit advanced at 1st, but it's not that hard. It's free too, not bs. It's not 100% perfect, but it's a good tool to have.

NEOAethyr, twitter.com

What do you like best about TestDisk?

The most things I like in TestDisk are as below:

  1. It is completely free to use.
  2. Recovery of lost data or lost partition process is quick and very easy.
  3. I can also restore files from NTFS and FAT filesystems.Review collected by and hosted on G2.com.

What do you dislike about TestDisk?

The below things that I don't like most in TestDisk are:

  1. Initial setup and log creation are a little bit complicated.
  2. It is a pure command-line tool so no attractive user interface.
Ridham S., g2.com

Used it a lot for hard drives with corrupted partition structures. Allowed me to rewrite the partition map or table or whatever and and then proceed with data recovery or even boot. Found it on Hiren's Boot CD.

Comment section, reddit.com

Excellent Tool for fixing any MBR. This is a tool that you (hopefully) will rarely need. But you should have it handy or at least know about it!

Comment section, softonic.com

Bottom line

If you approach TestDisk with expectations to, for example, recover permanently deleted files after formatting, then you will almost certainly be greatly disappointed. This data recovery is actually all about file system repair and reconstruction, and it can recover files only by restoring the logical links to them. 

Even though the real-world data recovery performance of TestDisk is pretty bad, the overall value delivered by this free tool is outstanding, so we still recommend you make it part of your data recovery toolbox and use it when you encounter a drive with a damaged or missing file system.

For data recoveries involving permanently deleted files, use a different data recovery tool instead, one that can recognize missing files based on their file signatures, such as Disk Drill or PhotoRec

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to several frequently asked questions about TestDisk:

As explained on its official website, TestDisk is used to recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again. 

TestDisk can recover data by performing partition table recovery and repair, such as by rebuilding FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sectors or rewriting the Master boot record (MBR). 

You can download TestDisk on its official website, CGSecurity.

TestDisk is a command-line software application. To run it, open its executable using a terminal emulator. 

TestDisk features a step-by-step recovery and repair process. You can use the arrow keys to choose between multiple options before pressing the Enter key to select. 

Yes, TestDisk can recover deleted files but only if the file system contains information about them. After formatting, for example, recovery is no longer possible. 

You can use TestDisk to undelete recently deleted files from FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, ext2, and NTFS filesystems. To do so:

  1. Launch TestDisk.
  2. Select the storage device you want to scan.
  3. Select Advanced.
  4. Choose the Undelete option.
  5. Choose the file to recover and press ‘c’ to copy the file.

TestDisk is an excellent file system recovery and repair tool, but its ability to retrieve deleted files is limited because it can’t find and recover files based on their signatures. 

Yes, TestDisk is an open-source project developed by Christophe Grenier, a respected software developed based in France. 

No, TestDisk doesn’t have a graphical user interface. The only GUI that’s available is for its sibling application, PhotoRec, and it’s called QPhotoRec.

👌 Satisfactory

TestDisk Review – Can This Repair Tool Recover Lost Files?

Out of 5 Total score

No. 19 Among all Windows solutions

When used to recover permanently deleted files, TestDisk simply doesn’t stand a chance. 

Visit developer website
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David Morelo

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

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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