- Simplified scanning with built-in wizard
- Multi-language interface
- Displays file condition
- Option to overwrite/destroy data
- Outstanding pricing policy
- Fast live support
- Poor performance of default scans
- Unusual appearance
- Annual payment required for priority support
When people hear the name Piriform they usually associate it the company’s most popular product, CCleaner. However, Piriform – a subsidiary of Avast and founded in 2005 – has many other solutions up its sleeve for optimizing computer performance and, in the case of Recuva, even provides a tool for recovering lost data. With this software users can recover virtually any kind of file from anywhere, whether that is an internal or external data storage drive. Although the software’s audience is primarily people who aren’t put off by new interfaces and program suites, Recuva manages to cater towards less tech-savvy users as well thanks to easy-to-use extras like the display for file conditions or the option to perform scans via a simplified wizard interface. In addition to that, it also serves as a way of handily destroying files to remove unwanted items from PCs once and for all. And if that’s not convincing enough, Piriform also sports a free version with all of the most important features included, as well as a cheap paid version through which users can make use of priority customer service.
As is the case for all Piriform products, Recuva focuses more on functionality rather than straightforward design, which are admittedly two things that other data recovery solutions have already managed to combine. However, while it seems complicated at first, once you get used to the program’s appearance you’ll find that Recuva’s interface is actually quite logical with everything in the right place. For starters, the vast majority of Recuva’s main screen is occupied by its two most important displays: one for recovered files and the other for previews and additional information. Granted, this means that the settings for finetuning scans aren’t as emphasized but they are at least located in an easy-to-find area just above these two large displays.
There isn’t too much in the way of additional settings aside from the ability to toggle deep scans, determining which drives should be shown, and controlling whether Recuva should launch with the scanning wizard. However, there is one detail that highlights why Piriform’s solutions are loved by so many users, and that’s the fact that the software is available in 45 languages.
There are two ways to start scanning with Recuva, either by activating it normally or by following the steps in the wizard. This process, which is activated by default, is the easier method of the two since it only requires determining the location and type of the recoverable files, the precision of the scan, and whether Recuva should create a virtual image of the examined drive. Interestingly, the wizard allows the program to examine removable drives, virtual discs, CDs/DVDs, and the Recycle Bin, but at the same time it also limits users to picking either only one file type category or all of them.
Regular scans are at the other end of the scale because it is possible to only scan the drives and deep scans must be toggled on or off manually before the process is even commenced. However, these regular scans can be refined based on file contents, file names, and file paths before the process begins.
Sadly, Recuva’s scanning performance was downright unacceptable. The lack of pausing and resuming scans is already a grave mistake, but the fact that many of our 56 test files were lost for good despite our test folder being deleted only three days prior makes this blunder even more shameful. Not only did quick scans recover only 27 files from an internal drive, but results were even worse with an external HDD; Recuva did detect 41 files, but they were unreadable. With deep scans, however, Recuva managed to recover 44 lost files in approximately two and a half hours – albeit many of them were found without their original names.
At first the recovery screen of Recuva may seem complicated for average users, but it actually comes with features that demonstrates the attentiveness that Piriform is known for. The most visible example of this is a system that indicates – or, according to Piriform, estimates – the condition of files using traffic light coloring. Then there is the advanced filtering option that allows you to look up specific files based on various criteria such as their type, name, size, modification date, or even path. Recuva also provides multiple ways to view recovered files – which can be changed in the “Options” tab – as well as a handy preview function on the right side of the program’s window.
Thankfully, the program’s performance with recovery is undoubtedly better than its scanning abilities. For starters, recovery time is insanely quick – taking mere minutes or less – not to mention that files and folders can be selected for recovery with just a single click. The option to reconstruct original folders is appreciated, too, and is activated by simply ticking another box in “Options”. The program will automatically create a folder for unknown files, too, which may seem unnecessary at first but, trust us, Recuva will create this folder more often than not seeing how the list of recovered files by the software is often full of unnamed files, particularly when the program is set to perform deep scans.
As with the case of many similar data recovery programs, Recuva’s main focus is on scanning for and recovering lost files and as such utilities are definitely not the forte of this software. In fact, the only extra feature that the program provides – which also happens to be the only notable difference between Recuva’s free and paid versions – is the option to create virtual disc images and recover data from them to save time and reduce the computer’s CPU usage.
However, there is one feature that can’t be categorized as a utility but still definitely deserves attention, and that’s the option to securely overwrite data. This is particularly useful for users who instead of recovering files would rather get rid of them for good. The working principle behind this function is simple yet brilliant: when a file that could otherwise be recovered is selected, Recuva can be commanded to overwrite that file once or multiple times, making it completely unreadable by even the most advanced data recovery solutions – including Recuva itself.
We wouldn’t be surprised if you thought that Piriform went completely insane with its prices, but everything displayed on the company’s website is true. The standard edition of Recuva comes with all of the most important features, but is also completely free of charge. Even the Professional and Business versions charge only $19.95 and $34.95 respectively, for which customers can create disk images to recover data from instead of physical drives.
Paying customers also receive priority customer support and unlimited software updates, but note that these are only provided for free for a year; in order to continue making use of these beyond the first year, users must renew their licenses again and again on an annual basis.
Thankfully, there are three ways in which Piriform compensates this inconvenience. The first is that the paid products come with a 30-day risk-free trial via its money-back guarantee. The second is that Recuva Professional is available as part of a $39.95 software bundle that contains the professional versions of Piriform’s other software Defraggler, Speccy, and CCleaner. And finally, the third option is through a bulk discount that allows users to save up to 25% per license.
Similar to the program itself, Piriform’s customer support is a mixed bag, at least when it comes to versatility. Granted, being able to communicate with the company via support tickets or the forums isn’t too impressive and the company’s social media platforms are mostly used for advertising CCleaner, but quality-wise the company at least doesn’t disappoint. In fact, our email enquiry was answered in less than ten minutes with a very thorough response, clearly showcasing the necessary level of care that is expected from a company like Piriform.
Dedicated pages are available for each Piriform product including Recuva to allow for self-help. This page is full of useful information related to the software, but it also contains links to Recuva’s FAQ as well as documentation for the user to learn about the software’s functions. There is also a blog that isn’t really worth your attention for its articles – which are published infrequently – but for the fact that the company actually communicates its latest releases here.
Even though Recuva is the product of renowned developer Piriform, it’s more than obvious that this data recovery software didn’t receive as much care as the company’s pride, CCleaner. Unfortunately, the scans aren’t thorough like they should be – which is true of both regular and deep scans – and the software’s awkward appearance may alienate users who aren’t familiar with data recovery in general.
However, this doesn’t mean that Recuva isn’t a worthy data recovery solution, quite the contrary. Smaller details like the toggleable scan wizard, the option to recreate deleted folders exactly the way they were, or the ability to completely destroy files once and for all each prove the potential in this program. Put all this together with the unbeatable pricing policy and it’s safe to say that Recuva is indeed a solution that could be a lifesaver for users wanting to salvage their most precious files.