Although losing important data to accidental deletion or the failure of one of the PC’s drive can be frightening, having a Windows data recovery tool ensures that important files are restored to their former glory. These solutions are widely available for various Windows platforms – and yes, that still includes Windows XP – but they are created in such a way that everyone can recover virtually any kind of data manually with ease.
But Windows data recovery apps aren’t just tools for reviving seemingly lost data by finding them deep inside the computer’s system, they are equipped with various additional features that can deal with more complex situations. And even if picking the best solution can still be a challenge, getting as much info as you can – that’s what we’re here for – will definitely help you get a clearer picture about Windows data recovery software and data recovery in general.
Top Data Recovery Software for PC
|Editor's Choice 2019|
Stellar Windows Data Recovery
Most notable for its clever combination of straightforwardness and powerful features, Stellar Windows Data Recovery can be set to search for specific file categories or all of its supported 223 file types at once. The software is able to recover lost data a variety of drives – internal and external ones alike – and also comes equipped with must-have utilities such as a lost partition finder and the option to create a virtual image of a volume to recover files without damaging the actual drive. The added functionality to pause and save scans to resume them at a later date is just the icing on the cake.
Stellar has a free demo but it’s best to opt for one of the paid versions that starts from $59.99 and comes with unlimited recovery, free customer support for the first year of use, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
It’s hard to overlook the fact that the biggest reason for Recuva always ending up on lists of the best Windows data recovery solutions is because it’s completely free of charge without limiting any of its features.
However, being free isn’t the only reason to consider Recuva. Admittedly it does lack the core features of its competitors – such as an easy-to-use user interface or the ability to pause and resume scans – but it more than makes up for this by putting an emphasis on its overall functionality and small but clever extras.
One such extra is its inventive traffic light coloring to indicate the condition of recovered files, but the file shredder that overwrites data to make them truly unrecoverable is also worthy of mention. But rest assured, regular features are present as well, particularly the disk image creator, the multiple ways of filtering and previewing recovered files, and the option to reconstruct original folder structures.
There are very good reasons why Disk Drill is considered to be the epitome of how a data recovery solution should be done. For starters, the user interface is devoid of any unnecessary elements, making it a breeze to get to and use all available tasks. Interestingly, deep scans – which can be paused and resumed, too – are the default option, though there is still the option to perform quick scans. Recovery is child’s play with Disk Drill thanks to the various filtering options and the fact that the software automatically reconstructs the original file structures. The app also comes with a disk image creation function and a special feature called Recovery Vault with which entire folders can have special, anti-deletion protection.
Disk Drill’s demo version allows users to recover a certain amount of data, but to enjoy the software at its fullest, a license is a must. Granted, a license costs $89 but for that price the program can be installed on three PCs.
Windows Data Recovery Software Comparison
Though they all look different from one another, every Windows Data Recovery solution provides the same set of basic scanning and recovery features. However, since these aspects are to be expected – and besides, they can be tested in the demo versions anyway – this shouldn’t be the focus for anyone looking to purchase such software. Instead, it’s best to look into the additional features – utilities in particular – and how user-friendly the software is.
However, there is no need to download and test the demo version of each software one by one, since all the necessary information can be found in an easily digestible format by reading dedicated comparison articles or, better yet, taking a quick look at our detailed comparison chart of the best Windows data recovery solutions.
Windows Data Recovery 101
How Windows Data Recovery Software Works
There are plenty of different Windows data recovery solutions available but what they all have in common is that they are pretty straightforward to use, even for the least tech-savvy of people. The core features involve the software delving deep inside the PC and resurfacing every single data that’s deemed readable and, therefore, recoverable. This is done through the way in which hard drives deal with deleted data, which rather than completely vanishing from the disk is in fact ‘hidden’ from the user’s view and the space it takes up on the drive marked as available for new data. It’s only when this space is filled with new data that the previous file is officially ‘deleted’.
After the process of scanning for this ‘hidden’ data the software will present its results, which the user can then filter based on various criteria and even preview files to be certain that they are the items you’re looking for. Quite conveniently, many Windows data recovery tools can reconstruct entire folder structures, too, which in the case of a failed drive can help to recreate the system’s state exactly the way it was. There is one catch, though: unlike scans, which can be performed as many times as you want, the actual recovery itself is typically restricted to users owning a valid data recovery software license.
Do You Need PC Data Recovery Software?
No computer is safe from hardware malfunction and this is the leading cause of data loss outside of accidental deletion. Luckily, even in these situations important files aren’t truly lost, and are only ever deleted once they are overwritten by newer data.
So, whether you’ve suffered a fault with a drive or realized you’ve accidentally deleted files that you need, these solutions can scour your system for that data and – providing it hasn’t yet been overwritten – can be restored to its previous state. Helpfully, such software can perform this very task on already deleted partitions, too, and is capable of copying over the entire contents of failing drives to protect the files stored on them from any further damages.
What’s more important, however, is that they provide an immediate, straightforward way of recovering files for relatively cost-friendly prices. Whereas on-premise data recovery services operate with custom prices that are affected by the level of damage done, a lifetime license for a data recovery app is significantly cheaper at an average cost of around $70.
Preventing Data Loss on Windows 10
“The best defense is a good offense,” says the old adage and this is especially true in the field of data recovery. Since operating systems and hardware are prone to malfunction – which can lead to data loss – Windows users should always take precautions to ensure the safety of their most important files.
The best and simplest way of achieving that is by backing the data up on a regular basis. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to save data to another place, whether that is an external device or a personal storage drive in the cloud. In fact, Windows 10 has a built-in backup solution called File History that automatically creates a copy of your chosen folders and saves them to an external drive – a USB stick or a portable HDD – at predetermined intervals.
Regular backup is an asset in preventing accidental deletion, but complement this with a Windows data recovery tool and the chance of ever losing any data is basically reduced to zero. Granted. Having a professional data recovery app doesn’t come for free – except for rare examples like Recuva – but this way any important files can be brought back from oblivion should traditional backup methods fail.