- Deep, unlimited scans by default
- Automated saving of scans
- Recovery from internal and external HDDs
- Reconstruction of original folder structures
- Two devices per license
- Versatile customer support
- Primitive, unappealing user interface
- No extra features
Users have specific requirements when it comes to data recovery software, needing the chosen tool to be simple, straightforward, and thorough and their scanning. Thankfully, companies listen to the expectations of the masses, which is why almost all data recovery programs are easy to use and can find any kind of lost data. SysTools Hard Drive Data Recovery for Windows is such a program, but simplicity has been taken to the next level by limiting its functions to nothing but scanning and data recovery. This may not seem important at first – seeing how even the simplest of solutions come supplied with additional features – but SysTools has still every right to be part of this ever-growing market. In fact, with its fast and deep scans, the fact that original folder structures are reconstructed correctly, and that paying users can enjoy the program on two different devices, SysTools could become a pleasant surprise for many people.
There are plenty of data recovery solutions where the approach of making the software as straightforward as possible works well, but SysTools’ software does not reach that balance well. It’s primitive when it comes to available features, but is also frustrating for people with multiple screens. And this is just the beginning of issues.
Take the start screen for example, which only displays active drives and the two available scan options. Granted, the addition of a separate box properly displaying all available information about a selected drive is a nice addition, but lacking the option to filter the scan by file type is a grave mistake. In fact, SysTools Hard Drive Data Recovery does absolutely nothing beyond scanning and recovering data from internal and external HDDs, meaning that features like recovery from disc images, optical drives, and even memory cards is out of the question.
There is a help guide available from one of the two drop-down menus though, where all of the few features that SysTools is equipped with are properly explained. Annoyingly, opening this requires both an internet connection and Internet Explorer.
There are two types of scans that can be performed with SysTools Hard Drive Data Recovery: one is for situations where you need to recover from accidentally formatted drives and the other is suitable for everything else, replacing the typically separate quick and deep scans that are usually found in this type of software. As such, regular scans are more than enough for the average user, especially since they are fast, thorough and can be performed as many times as you want even in the demo version. Another interesting feature that SysTools possesses is the autosaving of scans; regardless of whether a scan was interrupted or completed, the program will always provide the option to either load results from a previous scan or start a completely new search for your lost files.
However, since quick and deep scans have been merged together, there is no way of knowing how much time the program will need to look through the selected drives – which is made worse by the fact that the software lacks a timer to inform users about the remaining time; in our case it only took mere seconds for SysTools to find our deleted folder. Once files are recovered, they are always placed inside the so-called “Orphan-Folder” after each scan. The tool also performed quite decently when it comes to the success rate of recovery, managing to find 43 of our 56 lost files and correctly identifying the files that had been placed inside two subfolders within the test folder.
Similar to the software itself, recovery options are rather limited in SysTools. For starters, recovered files can only be located by manually searching for them in the recovered folders – which are always displayed on the left side of the screen – or by starting a search. Using the latter option is helpful because it locates the required files faster by allowing you to filter results based on various criteria, including the file’s name, extension, creation and modification date, and the day it was last accessed. SysTools will also mark deleted files with red and display useful information about the recovered files such as their size, location before deletion, and which software will open them once they are properly restored to a hard drive.
The recovery process itself couldn’t be any simpler, though. All you need to do is select the files to be recovered, determine where they should be saved, and the program will do the job as it should – it’ll even restore the original structure of deleted folders. However, it’s important to be aware that much like most other data recovery solutions, SysTools requires a paid license to actually restore any files – though admittedly the lack of even a limited trial in this regard is an oversight.
Although the demo version is perfect for testing SysTools’ scanning features, it’s only with the $39 paid version that data recovery is unlocked. That in itself isn’t terrible especially considering that it actually comes with two licenses and a 30-day money-back guarantee, though this is only available to users who encounter software malfunctions or recover less than 30% of their data.
The company also provides two business licenses, the first being SysTools Business costing $99 that can be used on 100 computers, while the Enterprise version has no limit on installations but comes with a whopping $399 price tag.
It’s worth adding that even though the purchase is a lifetime license, it must be renewed each year in order to retain access to free software updates and technical support. However, if you do decide to pay on an annual basis, then SysTools will gladly reward you by reducing the renewed license price by 40%. And speaking of discounts, the company often provides special temporary offers to newcomers by offering various SysTools solutions at a reduced price when purchased as part of a software bundle.
Quite surprisingly, SysTools’ customer support is pretty versatile, both for its live support and online information related to the product. In fact, when it comes to live support, not only is every possible option available – meaning email, support tickets, phone, live chat, and even Skype – but staff members are available 24/7, too. And even though the company’s staff often direct users to try the software’s demo version first and then ask questions later, they are well prepared to answer anything that you might be wondering about.
Additionally, SysTools Hard Drive Data Recovery users with more technical questions can turn to the company’s designated FAQ or watch the two tutorials on SysTools’ YouTube channel. It’s worth mentioning that SysTools runs a blog and various social media pages, too, but the blog rarely contains anything about data recovery and the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages are mostly used for advertising purposes.
SysTools might not offer the level of professionalism that potential customers are looking for but it still has its fair share of merits. There is no excuse for just how primitive the software is and yet despite being a true underdog in the data recovery industry, it is surprisingly competent when it comes to locating and recovering deleted files. Compare the full version price to those of its competitors and SysTools has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
While the software is certainly many miles away from being called ‘the best data recovery solution on the market’, it’s perfectly capable of performing its job, which is probably the most important thing that matters. In fact, all it needs is a better user interface and a few more functions and SysTools would definitely hit the mark.