- Supports multiple file formats
- Option to add new formats
- Very efficient deep scans
- Helps recover the majority of deleted data
- Buggy quick scan
- Processor intensive software
- Requires admin password with each app launch
Whether it is data lost from an internal or external hard drive, a Windows Boot Camp partition, or Apple Time Capsule, Stellar Mac Data Recovery will help you get it back. The small but powerful software helps to locate and recover information from corrupted, damaged, or deleted volumes on any common format drive. Developed by Stellar Information Technology, an India-based company founded in 1993, the Stellar Mac Data Recovery application completes the developer’s line of repair and recovery software for Mac, which includes Stellar Data Recovery for iPhone and Stellar JPEG Repair. Although there is still much to do before it is perfected, Stellar Mac Data Recovery Professional is a powerful utility that scans your attached and built-in drives for free, though it isn't until paying the $99 for a license that the recovery of lost partitions, documents, and multimedia files is enabled.
Stellar Data Recovery greets its users with a pretty straightforward interface with all of its available commands easily accessible. Users can customize the scan or let the app recover everything for them, though you will need to pay for a license if you hope to run it at full throttle.
The “Select What to Recover” screen allows users to instruct the software to focus on specific types of data that has been lost, such as documents, emails, videos, audio, or photos. Stellar's recovery software will initiate a quick scan based on your instructions, but if you really want results then the Deep Scan toggle enables a comprehensive scan of the selected volume. It’s in the screen for location selection that Stellar lists all of the volumes it has found and even suggests scanning for lost volumes. The software doesn't recognize iOS devices, however; for that Stellar has a dedicated app.
The fastest method of data recovery understandably wasn't as helpful as the advanced scan, although it did show some results. The quick scan is useful in scenarios where you realize fairly quickly that you have accidentally deleted files and run the software to recoup them.
However, the quick scan feature is rather buggy as the app froze with just one second of the scan left. The only way to make this work was by aborting the scan, which nudged the app into bypassing this stage and moving forward with the second phase – creating a directory tree.
Stellar Data Recovery for Mac is able to identify more than 190 (and growing) file types, which isn’t the highest amount on the market. The good news is that new file types can be added to a predefined list of supported file types in the app. In our tests, the utility was able to retrieve original file names, something that data recovery software isn’t always able to recover.
Navigation through the results is eased by the filters that Stellar Mac Data Recovery includes. The results are displayed in three lists (classic, file, and deleted) and organized by file type: document, video, audio, or photo. Turning on the preview, however, will only allow you to see a taster of the recovered photo while the scan process is running. Further filter results can be applied by file type or by using the search field to find something specific. That, however, is slow compared to its competitors and the results aren’t always satisfying. The search feature puts an unnecessary stress on the computer hardware, too,ultimately shortening the battery life of Macbooks.
In our tests, Stellar Mac Data Recovery was able to recover the majority of files, but it’s important to consider the time that the app needs to perform a deep scan. A thorough scan of a 500GB external hard drive takes roughly five hours according to Stellar, though the actual scan time is heavily affected by the type of data available on the drive.
We tested the app on a MacBook Pro (late 2016) using the computer's built-in SSD and an external hard drive. Testing both drives meant discovering how the software overcame the challenges that SSDs represent for data recovery applications. This difficulty comes from the command called TRIM (a more efficient handling of ‘trash’), which is very useful and can extend a solid-state drive's lifespan but, on the other hand, reduces the possibility of recovering deleted files.
Our testing supports this theory: Stellar Mac Data Recovery couldn't find any data to recover on the SSD in the MacBook Pro. To scan the internal drive for lost volumes – the only option that Stellar offers in this case – users need to temporarily disable System Integrity Protection (SIP). Stellar says that this is because SIP protects not only the system files but your folders as well, so it needs your help in restoring the files.
Besides regular hard drives, pen drives, external drives and such, Stellar Mac Data Recovery also supports data recovery from encrypted disks, Time Machine backups, and Boot Camp partitions.
Users can save the scan results so that they can resume their search without the need to rescan the hard drive. It also allows you to stop the scan process at any time and save the scan results of the incomplete recovery process. This way, the next time you launch the app and plug in the same drive the “Resume Recovery” option will list the saved scan information for a quick and easy restart.
While the trial version of the app is available for free and will perform a thorough scan of the selected drive, to start recovering files you will need to shell out $79.99 for a one-year Professional license of Stellar Mac Data Recovery Professional license ($99 for a lifetime license) or $99.99 for a one-year Premium license (lifetime at $149). The technician license, which is mainly for repair and maintenance workshops, costs $199 for one year and allows users to install the software on three systems. The Premium license offers extra video and JPG repair features, while the technician version will enable recovery on RAID 0, 5 and 6 hard drives.
Stellar accepts various payment methods, such as credit and debit cards from payment networks Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, iDEAL, giropay, American Express, JCB, Diners Club International, Nordea and UnionPay, as well as through wire transfer and PayPal. Your purchase is protected by the company's 30-day money-back guarantee, which is enough time to weigh up the usefulness of the data recovery software.
There are various ways to reach out to Stellar Recovery before and after purchase or to collect information about the use of its software. First there is live chat, available on the website to ask questions before making a purchase. Then there’s the option to reach out to the company by phone, with which it promises 24/5 free customer support for one year after purchase.
You will be surprised by the reaction speed of email customer support, as we were. Our question received a first response within hours of sending the email, with the second follow-up reply arriving just a couple of hours afterwards. Phone support is also very quick, so long as you have all purchase data to hand.
If you have any technical questions and can’t find an answer in the detailed knowledge base – which also includes video guides – or FAQ sections, then you can either call the support on the listed phone numbers (English only) or submit your query by filling out a form for the technical team to reply to. The team is also available on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
While data recovery on SSD is still science fiction, it’s surprising to see how much data can be saved by running an app such as Stellar Data Recovery for Mac. The developers have added more than 70 data types recognized by the software between two version releases and we hope they will consider working on the graphical user interface and address bugs in the scanning process.
But with that said, Stellar lacks an important feature in the preview function, which is necessary for checking whether the data is recoverable or not and as such forces users to have to resort to sorting the results by size to properly comprehend what data can be restored. We also found that running the app on a portable computer will shorten its battery life, as the scanning and filtering process require more hardware resources than competing apps. Hopefully, the developers will also improve the search function, a key feature of every data recovery app in the process of filtering results.