How to choose the right product from the above data recovery programs test or comparison
the essentials in brief
- A hard drive is a complex technical device that reliably stores your photos, music or documents. But a single defect can ensure that all the files are lost (supposedly forever).
- If you have not made a backup, only a data recovery program will help : This software for restoring deleted data, costing around 20 to 80 euros, can often save many images or texts that were thought to be lost.
- In our data recovery program test, we explain how your data is stored on the hard drive and give you many tips on the subject of data recovery at hand.
Loss of data – the nightmare of every user: The almost finished thesis, the sensitive invoice data or the one-off vacation photo disappear into the depths of your hardware because of a wrong click, never to be seen again. Sometimes, however, it is also the hard drive itself that devours your data without further ado:
“Every 2nd hard drive [is] defective within 5 years – but 20 percent of users never back up data.”
Michael Kroker (July 18, 2016)
( Kroker’s Look @ It based on EaseUS )
No matter why the document is suddenly no longer available, it is always a nuisance. Especially if you haven’t made a backup. In our data recovery program Test 2020, we would like to explain to you how you can still get your data. What to look for when looking to buy the best data recovery program and which manufacturers offer the most reliable file recovery tools ?
1. Data recovery: what to do if the backup is missing?
Why data is lost
Reasons for data loss
- Accidental deletion
- System error or software error
- Virus attack
- Theft or burglary
- Floods or blackouts
- Hardware or hard drive error
Hand on heart: how often do you back up your data? On average, only 10% of all PC and laptop users make a backup every month. The reasons for the displeasure to regularly create backup copies are typical :
x 25% are too lazy to make backups
x 18% don’t know how to make a backup
x 15% takes too long to create
x 9% find backups too expensive
x 5% think nothing will happen to them
Creating a backup is now very easy. Any layperson can create backups quickly, easily and simply without having to spend a lot of money. Here are some tips:
- Use external storage media : NAS servers, external SSD hard drives or simple USB sticks are very easy to use.
- Create a cloud: Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive even offer free online storage for you.
- Create a disk image: a memory dump of your hard drive enables you to reset it in the event of an error or software defect.
Even though a backup is created quickly, important data is regularly lost for trivial reasons – a shock for those affected. Once the data is gone, special programs have to be used: data recovery tools .
Data recovery tool: Programs that restore data are often referred to using English terms. But regardless of whether you are dealing with file recovery, data recovery, data recovery software, recovery programs or recovery programs: it is always about rescuing your documents, pictures or videos.
1.1. HDD – Hard Disk Drive
Good data recovery software has a few tasks to handle:
- Accidentally deleted data are the least of the challenges.
- Entire hard drives or individual partitions may have been formatted incorrectly.
- External media such as flash memory sometimes have to be restored.
- A wide variety of file formats must be checked and renewed by the file recovery.
In order to understand how data recovery programs go about data recovery, it is first important to understand what is happening on a hard drive . A hard drive is a magnetic mass storage medium that has been produced since 1955. It works on rotating discs ( H ard D isk D rive or short: HDD ).
The non-magnetic discs or plates (ENG. In the speech space can be they Platter called) carry a magnetic data layer of cobalt oxide or iron oxide, the protective layer is located behind a carbon. The particles within the data layer always have a certain magnetic polarity, i.e. 1 or 0, which can be processed by the computer.
Finally, the disk geometry must be taken into account: the disks are divided into sides, tracks, cylinders, blocks and sectors, creating a precise coordinate system. The read or write head (a tiny electromagnet) can thus control any data in a targeted manner, read its polarity or change it if desired (you can find out more about this here).
What is really exciting is that deletion on the computer is divided into two different types , which determine the chances of data recovery:
|Logical deletion||Physical erasure|
|Data recovery possible||x Data recovery (almost) impossible|
|If you delete any files via the recycle bin or delete them “permanently” with the keyboard shortcut Shift and Remove , you are actually only removing the entry for the files from the data directory . In other words, you tell the hard disk that the memory that is now free can be overwritten in the future. As long as the data has not been overwritten, however, you can restore the data .||The secure deletion means the single or multiple overwriting of remote data . This process can only be reversed with a certain chance and with considerable effort . Physical deletion can only be implemented using special programs or certain data recovery software (e.g. Ontrack EasyRecovery) and is only used for data protection .|
|Finger way: If you want to carry out a data recovery via software, you must not save any further data , otherwise you might overwrite free memory and thus physically delete it. Ideally , you should remove the hard drive from your PC and perform the file recovery on a second device .|
1.2. SSD – Solid State Drive
In the meantime, the HDD hard drive is no longer the only mass storage medium on which data is stored. The SSD is a semiconductor drive from the group of flash memories. Information is permanently saved here via electrical storage cells .
In contrast to the HDD hard drive, information is stored less grouped on an SSD, which is why defragmentation is not recommended . However, the functional principle of an SSD is quite similar to that of an HDD hard drive.
If you want to learn more about SSD hard drives, we recommend this link.
2. How is data recovery software used?
First of all: data recovery software is always to be used at your own risk. If the file is irreplaceable , then you should consider professional data recovery. Of course, this costs more than a free data recovery program, but the chances of success are far higher.
In most cases, however, you can have great success at rescuing data on your own and, with a bit of luck, even restore your hard drive. It doesn’t matter whether you use a data recovery program for Mac, Android, Linux or Windows , because the software always works on the same principle.
Mass storage devices are organized using what is known as a file system . You have to understand that are stored on the file system on which all files, all part of a single file is the main file , the M aster F ile T able (MFT) is called.
Within this master file table, data recovery programs search for characteristic codes that make each document or image unique. Subsequently, the closer environment is examined to determine whether it belongs to the document, it being possible that certain parts of this cluster have already been overwritten. This decides the chances a recovery program has.
Deep scan: The best data recovery programs can break away from the cluster assignment of the MFT. With the help of an in- depth analysis, you not only search for the immediate vicinity of the file, but also scan the entire hard disk for any affiliations.
Formatting and fragmenting
When formatting a hard drive, there are two different categories to choose from:
- Quick format: If you want to rescue the data on your hard drive after performing a quick format, your chances are not bad. Because this formatting process only removes all entries from the MFT – you move practically all data into the trash and press empty .
- Normal formatting: With normal formatting, the entries are not only removed from the MFT, but also overwritten. A data recovery becomes an almost impossible task.
Back up your data! Before formatting, you should make a backup of your data. Performing a normal format will be a tough challenge for even experts on hard drive recovery.
With fragmentation we mean data blocks that are partly scattered as fragments in said clusters on the hard disk. The more advanced the fragmentation, the further separated memory fragments that belong together are, which makes it more difficult to find them.
It is not without reason that defragmentation , i.e. the targeted connection of fragments that belong together, is a standard function under Microsoft’s Windows 10. What advantages and disadvantages defragmentation has shown here:
- The hard disk can be processed faster by the read or write head, which improves performance.
- Data clusters can be captured more quickly by data recovery programs.
- With SSD hard disks , the automatic defragmentation should be switched off as it can shorten the life of the hard disk. You can find out more here .
For data recovery , you should definitely be careful when making changes to the file system . If you have accidentally subjected your hard drive to a normal defragmentation , usually – if at all – only a professional data recovery will help, e.g. via the data recovery laboratory .
However, if you regularly defragment the data system and have only done a quick format of your partitions , there is a good chance that you can recover documents and raw data.
3. What are the most important functions of data recovery programs in the test?
Regardless of whether you use freeware for data recovery or our data recovery program test winner to restore your files: the functionality is always similar .
We describe the process using the Recuva freeware data recovery program from Piriform:
1. First and foremost is the download of the software, ideally from the developer’s homepage .
2. After the installation, a few dialog boxes usually open in which you can specify how the scan should run:
- What file formats do you want to recover? Documents, images, compressed formats, videos or emails?
- Which areas should be searched? Memory cards, external hard drives, in certain folders or in the file system?
- How detailed should the scan be? Would you like to restore recently deleted data or should the entire PC be x-rayed?
3. After the scan you will see a list of data, its recovery status, the file path, etc.
4. You now have various options for driving data recovery forward:
- You can use the preview function and , with a little luck, recover data whose status is not unrecoverable .
- If the file you wanted was not there, you can initiate a deep scan , but this will take a long time.
- If the file cannot be found or cannot be recovered, you can use another recovery tool from our data recovery program comparison, because the results are different depending on the software .
A very effective alternative is the File Scavanger program , which is characterized by its particularly high reliability.
4. Questions and answers about data recovery software
4.1. Which program do I use to rescue data on my Mac?
The abbreviations NTFS and FAT designate certain file systems, which in turn are used to organize the stored data. The file systems assign files to certain metadata, for example, which data recovery programs then have to locate.
For more information, contact the file system developer: Microsoft .
In our data recovery program test, Ontrack EasyRecovery and Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery have proven to be excellent data recovery software for the Mac.
With Ontrack EasyRecovery you get a comprehensive and reliable program for data recovery. It works on both Windows and Mac systems and offers data recovery on HDD as well as SSD storage .
Stellar Phoenix offers many different programs for Mac users and Apple users :
- Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery
- Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery (Mac)
- Stellar Phoenix iPod Recovery (Mac)
- Stellar Phoenix CD DVD Data Recovery Mac
The pleasant user interface and the extensive but very long deep scan are particularly impressive. Almost all of the missing data is often found by the program, but recovery does not work as reliably as with Ontrack EasyRecovery.
4.2. Which freeware data recovery programs are recommended?
Probably the best known free file recovery tool is Recuva. The program is very easy to use and has a recovery rate that is remarkable for freeware software.
However, it must be taken into account that Recuva is provided with English voice output . Furthermore, the restoration of data cannot keep up with the reliability that the paid programs from our comparison provide.
Recommendation: If you mainly want to recover photos , we can recommend Photorec . Many users have already saved their vacation photos with this free tool . However, you have to work with the program’s DOS interface, which takes some getting used to .
4.3. How can I rescue a defective hard drive?
Repairing a defective hard drive is only possible in the rarest of cases. Even worse:
“The chances of repairing the hard drive are destroyed by unprofessional repair attempts in over 99% of the cases and this in a serious way that usually no laboratory can save the data afterwards.”
data rescue service
If your hard drive is dead, here’s the best way to use your data recovery software:
- Find the Error: The first thing you should check is why the hard drive is not working. Pay attention to details such as noises (cracking, rattling or similar), errors in the power supply, such as cable damage, or failed LEDs.
- Should you discover a physical defect (e.g. due to a lightning strike, a fall, etc.) only a professional data recovery will help you. In this case, carefully assess the value of your lost data, because such a rescue costs at least $300. This price is justified, however, since hard drives are extremely complex constructions.
- If, with the best of intentions, no physical defect can be found, you can use data recovery programs to get your data back.
- Ideally, you should remove the hard drive from your PC and reconnect it to a separate device. Run a hard drive diagnostic and then an in- depth analysis. This can take over ten hours for very large mass storage devices – patience is required here.
4.4. Is there any recovery software for Android systems?
Yes, but these programs are often only designed for Android systems. A recommended program is the Jihosoft Android data recovery tool, which can be used to specifically examine Android phones and tablets .