Ease of Use
Help & Support
Mac Hard Drive Recovery Review
Why Buy Mac Hard Drive Recovery Software?
We've tested and reviewed Mac hard drive recovery software for seven years now. This year for our update, we researched and thoroughly tested dozens of applications before coming up with our list of the top 10 products we believe will do a superb job. We regularly examine newly released applications as well as updates to existing software applications that have been around for years. We've spent hundreds of hours testing all of the products on our list.
Our top pick, Data Rescue 4, offers great results when it comes to retrieving lost data. We highly regard programs like EaseUS for its superb customer support and R-Studio, which has the necessary features, such as remote network access and RAID support, to be a useful tool for businesses.
How Hard Drive Recovery Can Help You
Accidents happen. Often they come at unexpected and inopportune times. Sometimes it's a computer virus that corrupts your hard drive. Whether data loss occurs as a result of a virus, accidentally deleting a critical file or hard drive reformatting, it can be devastating. It often means lost photos, notes and reports that you absolutely cannot do without.
With Mac hard drive recovery software, recovering that lost data can be a simple matter. The files and folders you send to the trash bin and subsequently empty are not yet deleted. They remain on the hard drive until they are overwritten by new data that's added. The same goes for files lost during a reformat, though it's more complicated. As long as the files aren't overwritten, it's possible to retrieve them.
Mac Data Recovery Software: Our Verdict & Recommendations
Our top three picks for Mac hard drive recovery software – Data Rescue 4, EaseUS and R-Studio – not only had a high recovery success rate based on tests we conducted, but they come with features that are extremely valuable to business owners, IT professionals or others who purchase this software for their organization.
Data Rescue 4 had the best overall recovery success rate, succeeding at retrieving all types of files, whether they were photos, documents, or video and audio files. Its impressive recovery rating, paired with just how easy it is to use, is what won us over.
EaseUS is not only one of the easiest programs we found to install and use, but it backs up its software with excellent customer service. You can quickly and easily reach its tech staff by phone, email and live chat. There's even a community forum for posting questions.
R-Studio for Mac offers several features to customize the hard drive recovery process. There is a learning curve with the software and at times the interface is confusing, but if you're knowledgeable in how data recovery works, this software can become a powerful tool with plenty of beneficial features for businesses.
Mac Data Recovery Software: What We Tested, What We Found
We tested this year's contenders by conducting multiple tests to determine the average number of files each program recovered. We used a sample of different file types that included images, documents and audio/video files. Within each category (images, documents, etc.) we used different formats: for example, DOC, DOCX, XLSX and PDF files for documents, and MP3, MP4 and MOV files for audio/video.
We conducted each test with the same desktop Mac and hard disk drive. The results on our matrix reflect an average of multiple tests conducted of each program's recovery capabilities.
While many programs received high results, sometimes even 100%, it's important to note that even a 1% difference in the success rate can significantly affect your own results, depending on how many files you're trying to recover. A 99% recovery of a 1TB hard drive still means 10GB of data was not recovered.
Our testing mimicked the two most common data loss scenarios. We tested each program multiple times within each scenario.
Lost File Recovery
In this scenario, data loss occurs when files are accidentally deleted. Whether it's the wrong file or folder that's included with junk files sent to the recycle bin and subsequently emptied, Mac hard drive recovery software can retrieve these files.
To test each program's ability to recover lost files, we deleted all test files from our hard drive and then emptied our trash bin. Using each application, we scanned the drive and used the application's recovery features to retrieve the deleted files. Most programs have a quick scan or deleted files option that efficiently recovers all folders and files. Once we had our salvaged files, we then compared the original folders and files to the recovered data and recorded what percentage was successfully restored.
Partially recovered files that could not be opened or contained no content (such as blank images or audio files with no sound) were not counted as successful recoveries.
Reformatted Drive Recovery
The second most common data loss situation, and the more complicated of the two, is when you lose data due to a hard drive being reformatted. This commonly occurs when you connect a hard drive to a computer with an incompatible format. The new computer asks if you want to reformat the drive, which you do without realizing there are still important files on the drive that will be erased.
Recovering data from a reformatted drive is possible, although it's more complicated, since a reformatted drive has had its file system erased and replaced with a new one. The data is still on the drive, but the paths have been erased. Most programs can perform a deep scan or raw recovery, which are the best modes to recover data lost from a reformat.
Just like our lost files test, we reformatted our hard drive that contained the same set of files and ran the program's deep scan or equivalent mode. We conducted this test multiple times and then calculated an average percentage of files that were recovered. Files that weren't fully recovered didn't count.
As expected, the average recovery rate for reformatted files was lower than the score for recovering lost files, since it is a more difficult data loss scenario. Often, since the program is recovering raw data from the drive, it's not uncommon to see recovered files with different names or, in rare cases, it can be in an entirely different file format.
Ease of Use: Easy & Effective Software Is Best
From an operational standpoint, hard drive recovery is a simple task. You shouldn't need a computer science degree to use it. Programs with complicated interfaces were not rated favorably. The best programs are uncomplicated and easy to understand. They feature clearly labeled scan and recovery buttons, and with just a few mouse clicks, you can start the scanning and recovery process.
In addition to ease of use, if you're a business looking for a Mac data recovery solution, here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a product.
Scan & Recovery Speed: Faster Doesn't Mean Better
Hard drive recovery takes time. Both the scanning and recovery phases can take hours to complete depending on how big your hard drive is. Some applications can scan a standard 1TB hard drive in a few hours, while slower programs can take days. How the hard drive is connected to your computer as well as what type of drive it is also impact the speed.
We did not find a correlation between speed and recovery rates, meaning that even if a program is fast, it doesn't mean it was any less thorough than a slower program.
Whether it's for your own office or your freelance IT service, when working with multiple computers, it's wise to get a program that either has a license that allows you to install it on multiple machines or a program with remote network access that allows you to scan and recover data from computers connected to a network.
If you plan on working with RAID systems, be sure the software is compatible. If you plan on using the software commercially, many developers offer a technician version.
Help & Support: Get Answers Fast
Technical support is an important consideration for any software solution. The best companies should have staff readily available by email, phone and live chat to answer your questions and concerns. The more avenues available to customers, the better. We also scrutinized the resources offered by the developer on its website such as a knowledgebase, guides and FAQs to ensure you have other resources at your fingertips.
For the Best Recovery
It's never guaranteed that hard drive recovery software will salvage the specific files you're after, but there are a few steps you can take to get the best results. Since the lost data is waiting to be overwritten by new data, do not download or install new software on that drive.
Ideally, you should have a data recovery application already installed on your computer. If you don't, then install it on a separate drive or another computer that you can then connect the affected drive to. Another method is to make an image of your hard drive, which creates an exact clone of your hard drive, even the erased contents, and store it on a separate drive.
Regardless of how you do it, it's wise to have external media to save your recovered files to.
When to See a Professional
When trying to recover data from accidental deletion or reformatting, this is referred to as logical data recovery. Physical data loss occurs when the hard drive is physically damaged in some way, such as worn-out parts, water or fire damage. In these instances, hard drive recovery software is rarely the solution, but professional recovery services may be able to help.
A hard drive recovery service can repair the physical components of the drive and even directly tap into the hard drive's platters and extract data. They operate in cleanrooms to prevent contamination of the disks and can speedily work on your drives to deliver data back to you. These services are significantly more expensive than software solutions, so you should be absolutely sure that is the best route for you.
Recovery Is a Last Resort
Keep in mind that Mac hard drive recovery software is not a replacement for consistent data backup. This can be done through disk imaging software, data backup software or online backup services. Storing important data on a RAID system can also protect you from loss.
Backups are not immune to failure, so you may find yourself in need of recovery software despite having these safeguards in place.
Data on your Mac hard drive can be prone to accidental loss, so you should have a plan and a program in place in the event you need to salvage a lost PowerPoint or financial spreadsheet.