When a virus rips through your computer and consumes all your data, or when you accidentally delete a file you wanted to save, data recovery software can save the day. While many data recovery tools require you to buy a license or subscription, several free versions also exist.

Restoration: Fast and Lightweight

For a lightweight recovery tool, consider Restoration, which recovers files you have deleted from the recycle bin. Restoration runs on Windows operating systems. If you accidentally delete a file permanently, run this utility before you shut off your machine or add any other software or files to the hard drive. Since computers overwrite files on a regular basis, running Restoration first increases your chances of recovering the lost data.

EaseUs: Easy to Use

As the name implies, EaseUS is one of the easiest data recovery tools to use. It operates similarly to other software programs, walking you through the steps until you recover your files. EaseUS searches for photos, audio, text documents and other files. The software also recovers lost partitions through its Lost Disk Drives function.

TestDisk: Powerful and Open-Source

Unlike many free data recovery tools, the manufacturer release of TestDisk is open-source software, carrying a perpetually free license. Since it doesn't include a paid option, its functionality does not change based on different licenses. However, TestDisk requires a basic knowledge of command line interfaces, so read the support documentation before you launch it.

MiniTool: Elegant and Popular

With more than 1 million users, MiniTool data recovery software offers several functions, including an un-delete tool, a media recovery tool and partition recovery. The elegant interface and its user-friendly design allow even novices to find missing data. MiniTool even retrieves files and settings from formatted partitions.

Recuva: Flexible and Trustworthy

Manufactured by the same company that produces other popular programs like CCleaner and Defraggler, Recuva focuses on files you accidentally delete. Recuva searches the computer's main hard drive and removable media. You can also restrict searches to specific areas, such as My Documents, to speed up the recovery process.

Disk Drill: Simple and Effective

Disk Drill's simplicity makes it an attractive option for free data recovery software. Disk Drill searches external media, such as iPods and memory cards, and internal hard drives. The preview function helps you determine whether you've found the file you originally sought, especially when you're recovering photographs and other images, since corrupted data often renames itself. You can download Disk Drill for either Windows or Mac devices.

Pandora Recovery: Plentiful Options

The Pandora Recovery utility appeals to many computer users because, as with antivirus software, you can run surface and full scans. Run the surface scan first to save time, then resort to the full scan only when the former fails to produce results.

Many of these data recovery tools boast powerful features that can recover most lost data. However, you sometimes need more robust data recovery software options. Consider the top paid versions if you don't achieve success with the free programs.

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