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Best file recovery software of 2020: recover lost files and partitions

Best file recovery software
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Losing your data can be a horrendous experience, and it's so easy for it to happen. It could simply be a case of deleting the wrong file, or accidentally overwriting a folder. Or, in the most extreme instances, a full scale harddrive failure.

Whatever the cause, the result can see catastrophic - the loss of anything from a lifetime of memories, to your entire business records.

However, in each event the deleted files and folders have not been properly erased from your computer, but have simply been removed from the file index ready for over-writing. Additionally, even a failed harddrive still contains the magnetic signatures of all the files originally stored on it.

In each instance, with some care and attention, the required files or folders can be recovered - so long as you have good file recovery software.

Most file recovery software will be able to scan your harddrive for all files, including deleted ones, and the chances of recovery are good. Some allow you to search by file type if you're looking for something specific, but most should be able to provide a view, often in the manner of Windows Explorer, of the found files and folders that can be recovered.

Here, therefore, we'll list the best in file recovery software, so you can get the files and folders, and even harddrive records, that you need.

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Recuva

(Image credit: Recuva)

1. Recuva

A file recovery tool from a big-name software firm

Multi-platform support
Easy-to-use
Military-standard recovery/deletion

Over the years, CCleaner has launched a range of solutions to help Windows and Mac users speed up and optimize their devices. The company also offers a popular file recovery package which is aptly named Recuva.

This software allows you to recover files stored on system drives, external drives and memory sticks, all via an easy-to-use interface. You’re also able to retrieve both damaged and recently formatted data, and the advanced scan mode should help you find deleted and missing files quickly.

Recuva uses military-standard detection techniques to recover or delete files as required, so you don’t have to worry about company information ending up in the wrong hands. What’s more, the software automatically updates itself, another useful touch.

The premium version currently costs £19.95 ($28) and gives you access to regular updates. There’s a free version too, but it doesn't come with customer support.

OnTrack

(Image credit: OnTrack)

2. OnTrack EasyRecovery

A comprehensive data recovery platform

Impressive recovery capabilities
Ability to pause the recovery process
Free version available

If you’re looking for a file recovery service that works on both Windows and Mac computers, it’s worth checking out OnTrack EasyRecovery. Described as “comprehensive” and “do-it-yourself” data recovery software, it provides you with the tools to swiftly retrieve data from a range of devices, from hard drives or SSDs (local or external) through to the likes of USB sticks, optical media and RAID volumes.

With the software, you can recover intentionally or accidentally deleted files, and you can rescue corrupt files if your computer has been targeted by a virus or cyber-attack. There’s an in-depth scan feature which can handle more challenging files, too.

Another nifty feature is that EasyRecovery can locate and rebuild corrupt, damaged or deleted volumes across HFS, HFS+, FAT, NTFS or ExFAT-formatted drives. If you’re looking to recover several files at the same time and find that the process is taking too long, you can pause the recovery, and resume it at a later stage.

There’s a free version of the product, with the Home Edition retailing at $79 (£69) and the Professional Edition costing $139 (£125) – that’s for a one-year licence.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

(Image credit: EaseUS)

3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

A highly organized recovery solution

Powerful file search tool
Free version
Windows-only

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard allows you to recover lost, deleted, and corrupt files quickly and easily. It’s described as an effective and “non-destructive” data recovery tool for hard drive retrieval, format retrieval, raw retrieval and partition retrieval.

The program operates a three-step data recovery process, and as for its capabilities, you can search for specific file types to save time, pause and restart the scanning process at a later date, and sort results by file name, file type and date. There’s also the ability to preview files to find out more details about any particular file and its potential recoverability.

The software is Windows-only, and is compatible with Windows XP and Vista, along with Windows 7, 8 and 10 devices at a price of £59.99 ($77). There’s also a free version, allowing you to try it out before spending any cash.

Disk Drill

(Image credit: Disk Drill)

4. CleverFiles Disk Drill

Recovery software which copes with a vast range of files

Support for 200+ file types
Quick and easy-to-use
iOS and Android compatibility

CleverFiles has created a comprehensive data recovery tool for both Windows and Mac. Disk Drill provides you with a quick way to recover critical business documents, music, photos and videos, but will also track files and whole partitions that may have been misplaced on your computer.

The software can recover and reconstruct more than 200 file types using multiple recovery methods. It only takes a few minutes to hook up a storage device and recover lost data. There’s also compatibility with iOS and Android devices, so you can easily recover files on smartphones and tablets.

Indeed, Disk Drill will scan and recover data across a range of devices, including external hard drives, cameras, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Android smartphones and tablets, USB flash drives, e-readers and memory cards. The pro version will set you back $89 (or £89 in the UK) for three devices, but you can also download a free version.

Active File Recovery

(Image credit: Active File Recovery)

5. Active File Recovery

A wallet-friendly solution for when everything goes wrong

Affordably priced
Still has very solid recovery capabilities 
Only available on Windows

Starting at $29.95 (£26), Active File Recovery is one of the most affordable data retrieval tools available on the market. Although it’s not expensive, the software certainly doesn’t compromise on features. It’s capable of recovering deleted or lost files and damaged or reformatted volumes, even if your computer isn’t able to boot up.

If you’ve accidentally sent important files to your recycle bin and have emptied it since, you can use this software to retrieve them quickly. Active File Recovery can also restore and repair files damaged by cyber-attacks, malware and power failure.

You can retrieve data from a USB stick, or from a damaged or deleted disk partition or volume. It’s also possible to recover files and media from memory cards and digital cameras.

The software works with Windows XP and Vista, plus Windows 7, 8 and 10, as well as Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012, 2016.

More file and data recovery software options

There are a number of reliable programs you can try and use to recover your files and data in the event of loss or deletion. While we've featured the best in file recovery software above, here are some additional options to consider for data recovery - and even better is that some of these are free to use:

Data Rescue 5 offers a free trial so you can try it out and perview if you really can recover your files and folders before buying the full version. The Standard purchasing option costs $99 and can be used for up to 5 harddrives with as many recovery attempts and processes as you like. The software can recovery most any file type, but better stll is that it's a available for both Windows and Mac. 

Wise Data Recovery is a free data recovery tool for Windows that can undelete files, photos, music, videos, and emails as well as other file formats. The software boasts fast scanning and shows the probability of recovery for each file it finds. If you have serious problems using your harddrive then you can download the software onto a USB stick and run the recovery program from there.

PC Inspector File Recovery is free and works on harddrives using the FAT 12/16/32 file systems as well as NTFS, as commonly used by Windows machines and some others. As well as finding lost or deleted files, it can also identify and recover lost partitions, even if the sector has been erased. A wide range of files can be recovered, such as document and image formats, as well as other common file types such as JPEGs and zip files.

Stellar Data Recovery another free software recovery platform that can recovery deleted data, recover lost partitions, and can otherwise help recover files lost due to a corrupted or crashed harddrive, as well as after damage by some types of malware. As well as recovering all common file types from harddrives, it can also recover them from USB sticks, CD's, and SD cards.

TestDisk and PhotoRec form a free pair of utilities. TestDisk can work with most harddrive filesystems, including not just Windows but also those commonly used by Linux, in order to recover and undelete lost partitions. PhotoRec is recovery software specifically designed to recover files and images that have been deleted or otherwise lost. Both software platforms are free to download and use.