- Simple, straightforward user interface
- Multiple customizable scanning options
- Additional Recovery Vault protection
- Free recovery of 500MB data
- One license for three devices
- Various discount options
- Expensive base price
- Pay-only lifetime upgrades
- Limited customer support
When it comes to data recovery solutions, there is a clear pattern that this kind of software goes through: first comes the Windows version followed by the Mac equivalent. With Disk Drill, however, it was the other way around; while the Mac version dates back as far as 2011, Disk Drill wasn’t released for PC until 2015. Despite this, Disk Drill quickly became a market leader and is even now considered one of the best data recovery apps for very good reasons. Disk Drill’s simple and straightforward interface is one thing, but it’s a total powerhouse that crams in numerous impressive scanning and recovery functions. Disk Drill also comes with a clever Recovery Vault feature with which your most important folders receive extra protection against accidental deletion. And not only does Disk Drill have a free version – which even allows users to recover a limited amount of data – but its paid counterpart can be used on multiple computers for as long as you wish.
At first the user interface of Disk Drill may seem too simple but, actually, it’s one of the main strengths of the software. So much so that despite the program coming with a short, built-in tutorial, it won’t be needed at all; Disk Drill for PC aids users in almost every aspect from the get-go.
For starters, each time the software is launched it automatically detects all drives and partitions, although in the case of the latter you will need to turn off a filter to see all elements properly. Disk Drill doesn’t waste users’ time by displaying unnecessary or rarely used functions either, instead the process is made very simple: choose between quick and deep scans or just hit the “Recover” button to start the default scanning method immediately.
Since Disk Drill focuses heavily on user-friendliness, there isn’t much available when it comes to additional settings, though more functions related to scanning and recovery are hidden behind the gear icon. This is also true for preferences, where it’s only possible to control whether the software should search for certain file types or all 286 of them at once.
Without doubt, Disk Drill’s forte is scanning, and not just because it can be performed as many times as you want on virtually any kind of drive. The speed of initiating the scanning process on the selected drive or partition is made possible with the Recover button, but quite surprisingly Disk Drill chose to make deep scans the default setting. This may seem handy at first but since deep scans are typically very long, drawn-out processes, this could gravely slow down the recovery process for smaller drives and partitions. Thankfully, there is the option to perform quick scans from the drop-down menu, but note that this feature is only available for partitions. However, scans can be aborted, paused or saved and in fact before a scan is saved, Disk Drill properly alerts users to avoid saving it on the target drive to prevent any further data loss.
However, the actual scanning performance of Disk Drill’s PC version is quite exceptional. In our test, quick scan mode took less than 30 seconds to recall all 56 of the deleted files emptied from the Recycle Bin. Deep scan mode, on the other hand, also managed to locate the deleted files in their original location, too, albeit without their original file names.
There’s an effortlessness about Disk Drill for PC but nowhere is that more clear than with file recovery. For instance, search results can be filtered in various ways – file name, type, size, or modification date – to make finding certain items easier. The software comes with two preview modes, too: the regular one displays image files while hex preview mode reveals how damaged the file in question is. This way you’ll always be certain that the right files are recovered, because you should remember that there may be instances where Disk Drill won’t recover files with their names.
More annoying than that, however, is how the software always creates a certain number of folders and puts recovered files into them without any logic whatsoever – that is unless files were originally in a folder, because in this case the software always reconstructs the original folder structure.
The software’s attentiveness is also demonstrated in how – during the process of saving scans – the software properly warns users against saving files to the same drive that they were salvaged from. And in the case of Disk Drill Basic where users are limited to recovering 500MB of data for free, the recovery solution also records how much data has been and can be recovered before reaching the limit.
Although the number of utilities provided by Disk Drill for PC is quite limited, they are still worth talking about. Firstly, there is a button appropriately named “Extras” that hides the option to create an image file of a drive or partition, perfect for those who want to ensure they can recover their lost files without the fear of overwriting them. Then there is the option to perform a special kind of deep search, which is perfect for finding all partitions – lost or simply hidden – on a drive.
Still, the most interesting utility function by far is the Recovery Vault. Despite working for partitions only, when this feature is activated any folders within this vault gain added protection from Disk Drill. Simply put, when a folder featured in this vault is accidentally deleted, all you have to do is click on “Undelete protected data” in the drop-down menu next to the “Recover” button and that folder will be restored exactly as it was in an instant, no matter when it was deleted.
Despite the lack of a free trial or a money-back guarantee, the deals offered by developer CleverFiles are actually quite fair. For starters, the free version Basic contains all available features without any limitations and even allows users to recover up to 500MB of data without upgrading. Unlimited recovery is only available in PRO, the default paid product of the company available for $89, but for this price one license can be used on three PCs.
Note that even though the license itself is for life, it’s only by adding lifetime upgrades for an extra $29 will you receive updates to the software beyond the version purchased. This is included alongside unlimited users and installations as part of Disk Drill Enterprise by default, but this version comes at a jaw-dropping $399 price.
Thankfully, there are plenty of discount options offered by CleverFiles. Users can upgrade from an older version to the latest version of Disk Drill for 50% off, and this discount is available to those who want to use the software on a Mac, too. Disk Drill can also be had for half price if you decide to switch from a competing paid data recovery product, too.
Unfortunately, the versatility of customer support provided for Disk Drill users is subpar, especially for those who opt for the software’s Windows version. For instance, the company’s help center – which serves as a blog, a knowledge base, and a coupons page – mostly focuses on Disk Drill for Mac. Granted, many of the articles describe general issues that could pop up in any version of the software, but newcomers might still assume that CleverFiles is neglecting Disk Drill for Windows users in favor of Mac enthusiasts. And the fact that the company’s YouTube channel is full of tutorials for Disk Drill for Mac only compounds the problem, too.
Thankfully, however, Windows users aren’t actually neglected at all, since any user can contact live support via email, an inquiry form, or live chat. While these aren’t available 24/7, the company’s staff is prepared to answer any kind of question in a prompt and courteous manner.
Disk Drill is often considered to be one of the best data recovery solutions and we can only confirm this. Although there are certain issues with the software – such as putting recovered files into random folders – these are dwarfed by everything else about the solution. Its scanning and recovery functions are impressive alone, and not just because of how effectively they do their jobs but their versatility, too.
And not only does Disk Drill come with clever features like the Recovery Vault, but all of its functions are created in such a way that even the least tech-savvy users can recover lost files with ease. With the added bonus of the fact that a paid license can also be used on multiple devices, it’s safe to say that Disk Drill for PC is a must-have for anyone looking for a simple and reliable data recovery solution.