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Best Data Recovery Software 2017

Best Data Recovery Software 2017

With the right steps and the right software you can get back files otherwise lost to accidental deletion, formatting or partition deleting.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockLosing files and other data can be devastating to your business and it almost always happens by accident. Fortunately, files that are lost from accidental deletion, formatting or partition deleting are not gone from good. In the case of most hard drives, emptying the recycling bin doesn't mean those files are completely gone, they're still on your hard drive waiting to be overwritten by new data. With the right steps and right software, you can get them back.

MORE: Best Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Certifications

Best for Small Business: EaseUS

Pros: Headache free; Quickly solve simple recovery issues

Limitations: Not good for advanced recovery issues

EaseUS has proven itself to be a solid, easy-to-use software solution for your data recovery needs. Once installed and booted up, you can begin the data recovery process with just a few clicks. This program offers clear instructions for using its intuitive interface, which funnels you to its main function of recovering your files. It has two scanning modes, a quick scan and deep scan. If the quick scan is unsuccessful, then the deep scan automatically kicks in, scraping every bit of available raw data from your disk.

Alongside its streamlined interface, EaseUS boasted solid results on our recovery tests, finding and recovering most, if not all, our lost data.

This software is inexpensive, at $69.99 per license, and comes with all the essential features you'll need to deploy it for your business. For instance, you can remotely recover files from network drives and save scan results for later recovery. There's an optional bootable media offered by the developer, which will allow you to launch EaseUS if your operating system won't boot. This is accompanied with lifetime upgrades and technical support from the developer.

Bottom Line:

This software can help your small business avert disaster from accidental data loss. It's easy to use and delivers positive results. However, if you're facing a complicated data loss issue, such as a damaged disk, you may need to look to a different product or a professional service. Also, if the program just can't recover certain files for you, there aren't a lot of settings for you to adjust to get different results.

Best for Technicians (Computer Repair Shops, Freelance IT): Kroll Ontrack Recovery

Pros: Includes all the essential computer repair features such as hex viewer, disc imager and eraser

Limitations: A few inconsistent test results; Mac data recovery requires a separate version of the software.

For freelance IT professionals and computer repair businesses, Kroll Ontrack Recovery's technician license allow you to run their data recovery software for commercial use, essentially making them a partner in your business. This annual commercial license ($1,200) gives you full access to the enterprise version of the software, which can run on an unlimited number of computers. It also gives you network access for remote scanning and recovery machines. This version is optimized for any recovery situation, including a physically damaged disk. It's compatible with RAID systems in any configuration, virtual hard drives and nearly every version of Windows.

Ontrack Recovery's capabilities were impressive except for a few tests that showed inconsistent results with certain file types. The interface itself is sleek and easy for beginners to grasp. This program offers some bonus tools such as a disk diagnostic feature to check the health of your disk drive. There's a data wipe tool, which allows you to permanently erase data such as sensitive files from a hard drive and can't be recovered. Plus, it offers imaging tools to help you clone a drive, which is a good safety precaution when doing data recovery.

Kroll offers a great technical support model, which allows you to reach them by your preferred method including phone, email and live chat. A searchable database on the website may also come in handy for finding guides, tips and tutorials on different data recovery scenarios.

Bottom Line:

Kroll Ontrack Recovery can be the right tool in your arsenal if you're a computer repair technician. You'll help your clients get back their data as quickly and efficiently as you can with this software suite. Despite some inconsistent recovery results on our tests, your technical prowess combined with this software should do the trick.

Best for Mac: Data Rescue

Pros: Optimized for macOS; Optional storage device; Bootable media

Limits: Interface not intuitive

If your office uses Mac computers over an Apple supported network, Prosoft's Data Rescue 4 is the program for you. This software is setup to deal with Mac's distinct file system, and it has features that its Windows version doesn't. It produced some the of the best recovery test results out of any product we tested. It recovered an average of 98 percent of our data, and much of the time recovering 100 percent of the data. These were the best results compared to the other products we tested.

Data Rescue's interface is less straightforward than the competition, but it is packed with features and tools to get the best results. Along with diagnostics and disk cloning features, it has a tool called FileIQ that allows the program to learn new Mac file types to recover. If your data scan doesn't find the file type you're looking for, just drag and drop in the program a file of the same type, and it will learn how to recover it. This is a feature exclusive to the Mac version.

BootWell, which allows you to setup a secondary startup drive if your macOS does not boot up, is another Mac-exclusive feature. It's an easy way to recover your hard drive if the OS crashes. With the software, you can also purchase an option external storage device with Data Rescue 4 installed in it. If your computer won't start, this storage device well boot the software and begin recovering your data.

Data Rescue 4's enterprise license is ideal for businesses with employees who are responsible for their own computer's maintenance. It allows you to install it on multiple computers, so all your employees can run it at any time. 

Bottom Line:

Data Rescue 4 gives you and your employees the necessary tools to undo damage from data loss on your Apple computers. With the license to install on as many computers as necessary, you can have all your office computers and servers protected. Its interface is not as intuitive and may require some training for your employees, but is still a powerful program.

Best for iOS: DoYourData

Pros: Specialized software for recovering data from iPhones, iPads and iPods

Limitations: Email support only

Data recovery isn't limited to just business computers. Mobile devices including the popular iPhone and iPad can suffer from data loss. Pictures, contacts and other important data can be damaging to lose, especially on a work phone. Files can be lost from accidental deletions, a factory reset, an iOS upgrade, errors or physical damage. DoYourData has a version of its data recovery software made especially for iOS devices, allowing you to save data from your phone or tablet.

DoYourData can recover your iOS data three different ways. The first way is directly from the device, which you plug into your computer. If the device is recognized by your computer, you can run the software to recover lost data from the device's hard drive.

If the problem is bad to the point that your device isn't recognized by your computer, then DoYourData allows you to recover data from your iTunes and iCloud backups. If you regularly backup your data to either service, DoYourData can access these databases, even if you've deleted some backups, and get your data back.

All three of these processes are simple. The interface is clean and intuitive, requiring very little instruction or setup. For iOS recovery, you simply plug in your device and follow the program's steps. The interface was one of the best we've tested. It will automatically detect any iTunes backup data on your computer and can log into your iCloud account with your credentials.

DoYourData can recover data from iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 1 and newer, and iPod touch 4/5. The devices require iOS 4 or newer. It costs $39.99 for Windows and $59.99 for Mac.

Bottom Line:

If you have a work iPhone or iPad that contains vital data that has been lost, DoYourData works with Apple's backup features to make sure you can access your files if they've been accidentally deleted or the device has been damaged.

Data recovery software buying advice

Remember, data recovery is the last line of defense against data loss. To fully safeguard vital information, you should regularly back-up your data and consider storing it on a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) system with an emphasis on redundancy. Of course, even back-ups and redundancy storage can fail, and that's when data recovery comes in.

When beginning data recovery, there are a few things to keep in mind to increase the likelihood of getting your data back. As soon as you first realize that some of your vital data has been deleted, you need to act fast. Do not download or add anything to the hard drive you need to recover from, otherwise you run the risk of overwriting the recoverable data. If this is a server for a network, cut off its access immediately. It's always optimal to have all the essential software already installed on your machine before these accidents happen.

For data recovery, it's important to have an external storage device with a capacity equal to or larger than the drive you're attempting to recover. Create a disk image of your drive, which can be done easily with Windows and macOS utilities, or third-party programs. Many data recovery programs also have this feature. This duplicates all data on your drive, including any recoverable data, which you can copy to your storage device. Now you can recover data from the cloned drive without worrying about damaging or overwriting the data from the primary drive.

When to seek professional help

When attempting data recovery, you may not get the results you want at first. Sometimes a large portion of your data isn't found in the scan or a specific file you're after can't be found. You can try scanning the drive multiple time to try a get different results, adjusting the program's setting to see if anything can be done to a more thorough scan. Unfortunately, it's never a guarantee that you'll be able to retrieve your data with recovery software, which is why it's so important to keep back-ups. Furthermore, you may recover a file, but it could end up damaged and unusable.

Data recovery services take things to the next level. They're specialized in handling advanced data recovery problems, including physically damaged hard drives. They work on your drive in a cleanroom environment, doing everything they can to retrieve your data. While this solution is much more expensive than software, it's likely to get you better results.

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