- Unlimited scans
- Scanning by file type
- Thorough scanning
- Standard and professional scan/recovery mode
- Email confirmation of completed tasks
- Lifetime license with unlimited support
- Lackluster recovery features
- Limited number of scannable drives (Standard)
- Expensive base prices
When it comes to data recovery software, the recipe for success is usually this: a simple, straightforward interface, powerful scanning features, and the recovery of lost files exactly the way they were. Many Windows data recovery solutions pass this test with varying degrees of sufficiency, but sometimes an app comes along that outperforms even this by blending two solutions into one. This is the case with Data Rescue, a data recovery solution created by Prosoft that as a company has gained extensive knowledge in data recovery since its founding in 1985. Data Rescue offers up the crucial data restoration functions, such as performing deep scans based on different criteria and even restoring files and folder structures to their former format. But actually, Prosoft’s Data Rescue conceals a secondary professional mode with even more options for scanning and recovering lost data in a fast, convenient, and effective manner. And although the price tag of the paid version can be a bit unsettling, this is a data recovery solution totally worth every single dime – and not just because the license is yours for life.
The sad thing about Prosoft Data Rescue is that despite including the most important features that any data recovery solution should, it’s actually kind of a mess. The biggest reason for this is the fact that there are actually two software interfaces, one intended for less tech-savvy users called standard mode and the other one called professional mode. Even though the latter interface reveals another set of features – such as viewing drive and file hexes, creating virtual RAIDs, setting a drive’s parameters, and erasing files for good – the standard mode is still more than enough for the average user, ultimately making the professional mode a bit obsolete.
There are a few interesting additional elements to the software, however. Having a built-in help guide is useful, for example, but the fact that Data Rescue can scan image files – particularly disc images – and the innovative ability to add new recognized file types via manual addition is something to be appreciated. Interestingly, the software can also be set to send emails to you after certain actions are performed, such as with a failed scan or successful data recovery. Note that Data Rescue also sends usage information to Prosoft by default, though this unwanted ‘extra’ can be deactivated.
Being able to scan image files to avoid further damaging the disk is a useful idea from Prosoft, especially when there is the option to decide what file types Data Rescue should look for, though admittedly this is something that has to be manually set up before each scan. Other choices include whether to perform a quick or deep scan and which drive should be scanned. Speaking of which, Data Rescue requires a temporary storage location for drive scans and this cannot be the same drive as the one being scanned.
More important than that, however, is the fact that the number of drives that can be scanned is limited to just five in both the demo and standard versions, which is unblocked after purchasing the hugely overpriced professional version. Another frustration is the saving of scans, since the standard mode only allows one scan to be saved – meaning that it will always overwrite the previous scan – yet even the professional mode is limited to no more than 15 saved scans.
Thankfully, the scanning process itself is up to industry standards. In fact, not only can scans be performed as many times as you want but they are quite successful in recovering lost files, too. In our test a quick scan was enough to find our deleted folder with all 56 files and two subfolders completely intact – albeit with the main folder’s name missing despite only being deleted a day before the test.
Although Data Rescue is quite decent when it comes to recovering lost files – seeing how it’s capable of reconstructing file structures and recognizing duplicates – the recovery features of the software are rather lackluster. For starters, recovered items are always displayed in a tree structure, making the search for particular files a bit tricky. Thankfully, there is the option to search for files based on certain criteria like name, extension, size, and modification date as well as to preview supported file types.
Sadly, in the demo version of the software the preview is completely useless as the majority of the preview screen is occupied by a gigantic Data Rescue logo. Extension-based searching is possible here, too, but this option is only available when the professional mode is enabled. However, it is this search option and an additional window that displays previously saved scans that are the only reasons to use professional mode; if you won’t have much need for these features, then the standard recovery interface perfectly serves its purpose.
However, recovery itself isn’t without drawbacks, the most noticeable limitation of this feature being that it is restricted to those who have bought Data Rescue Standard or Professional. Also, recovering data while in professional mode isn’t possible for standard users; quite ridiculously, these users will need to either switch back to the standard mode or upgrade to Data Rescue Professional.
Since Prosoft’s Data Rescue focuses on scanning and recovery, it’s not surprising that the number of utility functions is limited. In fact, there is only one true utility feature here and that’s the option to clone a drive onto another one via the creation of a disc image. Although the user manual for Data Rescue says that the software is more than capable of finding lost data on failing drives, the cloning feature is a worthwhile option for those who don’t want to damage a failing drive any further by directly scanning it.
Additionally, Data Rescue’s PC version can also create a virtual RAID, with which users can simulate a physical RAID configuration in cases where it cannot be mounted or recognized as a single volume. However, this additional feature is also only available in the software’s professional mode, meaning that to perform this kind of task users will have to purchase Data Rescue Professional.
Even if the pricing policy of Prosoft is clear as day, it still isn’t the best out there. Data Rescue Demo is available for free but it’s only good for performing unlimited scans and demonstrating some core features of the software. Data Rescue Standard adds in the much-needed data recovery function into the mix, but its $99 price tag is a bit over-the-top considering that it only allows users to perform scans on five drives and doesn’t come with either a free trial or a money-back guarantee.
Unfortunately, to be able to scan as many drives as you want there is no option but to upgrade to Data Rescue Professional, which costs a whopping $299. Thankfully, however, not only is the Professional license valid for as long as you want – with the exception of software updates that are pay-only – but it also includes access to both the Windows and Mac versions of the software.
As for discounts, there are three ways to enjoy Data Rescue for a reduced price. The first option is only available for educational institutions, while the second is for anyone who wants to upgrade the current version of the software to the latest release. The last option is the simplest, as it only requires a subscription to the company newsletter.
There are absolutely no issues with the quality of Prosoft’s live customer support. Even though it isn’t available 24/7 and there is no way to call the company by phone, users can still turn to Prosoft’s staff via email or live chat and expect to receive thorough, courteous answers to their questions. Additionally, Prosoft also offers on-premise data recovery services to customers with a rather friendly pricing policy, which only expects payment for the recovery process if files can be saved from the damaged drive.
Other forms of support suffer from the same issue as live support, namely the lack of variety. In that regard your only options as a Data Rescue user are to visit a short FAQ, turning to a similarly short how-to section, or reading up on materials on the company’s blog. However, it’s quite likely that you won’t need these support options at all because the online user manual – which is included within the software, too – is perfectly capable of providing thorough answers to your issues.
Prosoft Data Rescue is certainly a program that’s worthy of the attention of users seeking a reliable data recovery solution, but it’s hard to overlook the feeling of disappointment. It would’ve been better if Prosoft had concentrated on creating an app with a single, straightforward interface rather than providing two separate modes, although extras like being able to save multiple scans, advanced search tools, and the virtual RAID feature that come with the professional mode are all highly appreciated.
Thankfully, the default mode isn’t bad – particularly when it comes to setting up scans and performing data recovery – but problems like the limited number of drives that can be scanned in Data Rescue Standard are enough to ruin the experience. It’s a bit of shame, though, because all it would take is to eliminate this handful of problems – in addition to needing a massive price reduction – and Prosoft’s software could definitely be a leading solution.