Top 10 Free and Paid Data Recovery Software to get back your Files

You have experienced it, or you know someone who has. A flash disk that refuses to open. That sinking feeling. What next?! The cryptic messages: ‘Disk not formatted. Do you want to format now?’ Or: ‘Invalid media type reading drive X. Abort, Retry, Fail?’ Maybe it is:  ‘Sector not found’. “What is this!”, you mutter to yourself.

Losing data in a computer can feel like the end of the world! It may be crucial company data. Or perhaps a thesis. Maybe it is those sentimental holiday photos… The loss will make you feel as if your heart has stopped beating. Loss of data can be fatal to a company. A study by University of Texas found that 51 % of companies that lose a substantial amount of data close within 2 years of the loss. Talk of a fatal heart attack!

To rephrase a wise saying, ‘When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; When data is lost, everything is lost!’

Fortunately there is a whole industry that has developed to provide data recovery services.

Data recovery refers to the process of retrieving data from various backup devices in the event of data loss. Data recovery is used to recover data from devices such as hard disk drives, memory cards, tapes, mobile phone, personal digital assistant, floppy disks, CD’s, DVD’s, Xboxes, USB, Solid State Drive (SSD), flash drive…  All these are electronic storage equipment which may abruptly fail, become damaged, or simply stop working.


What makes a good data recovery software

Data, like energy, never really disappears, so goes the conventional wisdom. It is only changed from an accessible state to a less accessible state. Well, most of the time. At times it is truly gone forever…

The concept of data always being accessible comes from the way data has traditionally been stored in a computer. When you create a file, the OS writes the information in two places. The information is first written to a free spot in your storage device. Secondly an entry is made in the file system, which is basically information about where the file can be found on the drive. Deletion usually only results in the removal of the reference to the file in the primary table, with the file still remaining in storage. The file typically remains in the storage until something else overwrites it. This is the principle that is used by most recovery software.

We should also note that recovery will only work for a file that has been saved. If you forgot to save your work, and do not have auto-save switched on, then no data recovery program will get for you your unsaved file!

Data recovery software is often used to salvage data lost due to logical damage to internal or external storage devices. They are ineffective in cases of physical damage to the storage media. Physical damage requires escalation, to get the services of data recovery experts.


Top Data Recovery Software

Data recovery software is used when a storage device suffers data loss due to logical damage. This includes media errors, corrupt partitions or file systems, logical bad sectors or accidental deletion. Data recovery software helps in effectively repairing and recovering files, storage media, databases and corrupt partitions. They are however of limited utility in cases of physical damage.

It is said that a princess has to kiss several frogs before she finds her prince charming. ‘Try for free’ in software sales is the modern day ‘kiss the frog’. We have kissed all the frogs so that you can have the prince. We analysed and tested several data recovery programs so that you do not have to install and uninstall any ‘frogs’ on your computer. 

We looked at various free software for data recovery and came up with a short list of the five top progams in each category.

We made a short list, and here goes:


Top 5 Free data recovery software


  1. Disk Drill
  2. Recuva
  3. EaseUS
  4. TestDisk
  5. Wise Data


Top 5 Paid data recovery software


  1. Disk Drill Pro
  2. Ease US
  3. Stellar
  4. Wise Data
  5. Data Rescue 5



We are living in the Information Age. Data has become one of the most important commodities. Organisations and individuals cannot afford to lose it. Loss of data comes with consequences that  many companies would not want to even contemplate.

Data recovery is getting even more important with each passing day. A great data recovery system should have a high performance and be able to restore a wide range of file types: Zip files, Document files, photographs.

It should support the major operating systems that are currently in use. A typical user may use a Mac at work, a Windows laptop and a Linux system at home.

The program should have a good speed for both fast and deep scan. It should be reliable and should not cause the system that it is trying to recover to crash! Useful features like user friendliness and interactivity and the ability to provide file preview gives a program the edge in the field.