Unwanted data loss can occur through accidental deletion, damage to the file system, operating system failure, or physical damage to the storage medium. Data recovery software can be used in these cases in an attempt to salvage whatever possible after the loss. Data recovery software is available to rescue information from a variety of media: hard disks, flash drives, optical discs, storage tapes, etc. This article focuses on a common need: recovering deleted files from a PC’s main storage device, the hard drive.
By reviewing sources such as Maximum PC, PC World, About.com, Recovery-Review.com, Download.com, and CNET, these are the top rated data recovery software for PCs:
- Good results
- Friendly, step-by-step recovery wizard
- Not as full-featured as some paid programs
Top Review Sources:
- Maximum PC: 7/10 “We have no trouble recommending Recuva as our favorite free file recovery app”
- PC World: “If you just want a good un-delete program with a small disk footprint at no charge, then Recuva is what you’re looking for”
- About.com: 5.0/5.0 “Recuva is, without a doubt, the very best free file recovery software available today”
Piriform’s Recuva guides you through the recovery process in a simple, non-intimidating fashion. It does a good job recovering files when you use the step-by-step wizard, and a great job recovering files when you explore the program’s advanced options. Nice features include a preview pane and the ability to re-establish a file’s folder structure. Recuva provides plenty of detail about the files it recovers so you can quickly find the one you are looking for. Recuva also includes a sector-based recovery tool, useful when you’ve had a serious crash and can’t boot your operating system. Recuva’s file shredding tool allows you to delete a file beyond recovery.
Recuva is available for free on Piriform’s website.
Quetek File Scavenger 3.2 ($50)
- Superior scanning
- Preserves original file names
Top Review Sources:
- Recovery-Review.com: “Quetek…managed to create a program that is easy to navigate, even for beginners.”
- Download.com User Reviews: 4.0/5.0 (170+ reviews)
- Maximum PC: 9/10 “If you’re willing to pay for file recovery, this is your program”
Reviewers are impressed by File Scavenger 3.2’s huge list of file types from which you can select to narrow your search. This element is just one example of the program’s robust feature set. You can search very specifically for files in certain areas of the drive, plus you can choose from different scan types—from the instantaneous Quick to the time-consuming and very thorough Long. Its recovery performance is top-notch. You can view results in a convenient tree structure as well as sort them by common attributes like type, date, location, etc. Unlike many file recovery programs, Quetek File Scavenger 3.2 reconstructs original file names, rather than return results that still have the additional characters added by the Recycle Bin.
Quetek File Scavenger 3.2 is available for purchase on the manufacturer’s product page.
Pandora Recovery (Free)
- Straightforward interface
- Great performance
- Beginners may be confused by advanced options
Top Review Sources:
- CNET: 4.5/5.0 “File recovery has never been easier thanks to Pandora Recovery”
- PC World: 3.5/5.0 “For restoring files that you’ve deleted from your hard drive, Pandora Recovery is one solid option”
- About.com: 4.0/5.0 “The wizard included with the program is the easiest to use and understand wizard that I’ve seen in an undelete program”
Pandora Recovery’s interface is exceptionally clean and straightforward, yet reviewers are even more impressed with the program’s file recovery wizard. This intuitive, step-by-step guide leads you through the recovery process, anticipating your needs along the way. As you proceed, its interface changes to accommodate your selections. You’ll be able to narrow the search down as best you can before initiating a scan. Once a scan starts, you won’t have to wait long for results. Pandora’s speed is not at the expense of its accuracy, however; the program impresses with its successful restoration of deleted files.
Download Pandora Recovery for free on the official site.