Top 15 Free Data Recovery Software for Windows and Mac

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There are 2 types of data recovery method, bootable and non-bootable. Bootable recovery consists of a boot-able operating system, usually Linux. All you have to do is download the Bootable files and burn it to a CD, DVD or USB, restart computer and boot up from the removable storage media and you have an operating system loaded onto your RAM. From there onwards, you perform your data recovery via other software that runs on Linux.

Top 15 Free Data Recovery Software for Windows and Mac

Alternatively, Microsoft has Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), it is a minimal Win32 operating system with limited services, built on the Windows Vista kernel. You are better off by booting into the much friendlier ‘Safe Mode (F8)’ and run 3rd party software from there to recover un-bootable operating system.

TestDisk is the only freeware that repairs and make non-booting hard disks bootable again, you’ll need to run it on a bootable OS.

Things to Know before Performing the Recovery

  • Are data recovery utilities safe to use? Yes and No, it really depends on luck, hardware and configuration. The is a possibility that the software might cause a permanent data loss.
  • Can I recover my files (Adobe Photoshop PSD, AutoCAD DWG, Microsoft Office Doc) ? Again, it depends on many factors, if it is physical hardware damage due to a drop or water, sending it to a proper data recovery center is a better option. Using software to recover physically damaged disk will cause even more damage.

computer data recovery infographic

Remember, if the data is important; always seek professional data recovery service if money is not an issue. The chances of salvaging data from damaged, failed, corrupted, or inaccessible secondary storage media when it cannot be accessed normally is higher from these data recovery center, this is because they have the incentive to recover as much as they can as they charge for every GB of data recovered.

Professional Data Recovery Service

Free File and Data Recovery Software

 
License
OS
Bootable
Recovers and
Rescue
BackTrackFree-Live CDLinux and Windows Hard Disk
BartPEFree-Live CDWindows Hard Disk
DiskDiggerFreeWindows-USB
Memory Cards
Hard Drive
KnoppixFree-Live CD
Live USB
Linux and Windows Hard Disk
SpinRiteFree-Live DOSLinux and Windows Hard Disk
SystemRescueCDFree-Live CD
Live USB
Linux and Windows Hard Disk
Trinity Rescue KitFreeLive CDWindows Hard Disk
WinPEFree
(Included in Windows)
-Live CD
Live USB
Windows Hard Disk
Ultimate Boot CDFreeLive CDWindows Hard Disk
CDRollerTrialWindows-CD / DVD
EASIS Data Recovery$88Windows-USB
Memory Cards
Hard Drive
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard$70Windows-USB
Memory Cards
Hard Drive
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard FreeFree recovery for the first 1GB of dataWindows-USB
Memory Cards
Hard Drive
DiskDrill Pro$90Mac-USB
Memory Cards
Hard Drive
DiskDrill FreeFree, scan only with no recovery optionMac-USB
Memory Cards
Hard Drive
dvdisasterFreeLinux
Windows
Mac
CD / DVD / Blu-ray
FileSalvage$80Mac-All medium in Mac OS X - Hard disk, SD, CD, DVD, Flash, iPhone, iPod and more.
uMacsoft$85Mac-Recover all media files - video, audio, photo, Mac Office files, iPod Recovery, Digital Photo Recovery and more.
GetDataBack$70 (FAT)
$80 (NTFS)
Windows-Windows Hard Disk
ISO Buster$40Windows-Floppy, CD, DVD, Hard Drive, USB Stick, Flash Drive, Memory Card, SD or on another type of media or format.
Norton Utilities$50Windows-Windows Hard Disk
PhotoRecFreeLinux
Windows
Mac
-Video and Photos on CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/SD, SmartMedia, Microdrive, MMC, etc.
Recover My Files$70Windows-External and internal hard disks, in the FAT and the NTFS and HFS file systems
RecuvaFreeWindows-Windows Hard Disk and all storage media
TestDiskFreeLinux
Windows
Mac
-Recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again. Run TestDisk on a bootable OS from a USB.
TotalRecovery$45Windows-Windows Hard Disk
TuneUp Utilities$50Windows-Windows Hard Disk
Data Recovery FreeFreeMac-The free edition only can recover external drive
PC Inspector File RecoveryFreeWindows-The "Special Recovery Function" supports the following disk formats: ARJ, AVI, BMP, CDR, DOC, DXF, DBF, XLS, EXE, GIF, HLP, HTML, HTM, JPG, LZH, MID, MOV, MP3, PDF, PNG, RTF, TAR, TIF, WAV, ZIP
Pandora RecoveryFreeWindows-Windows FAT32 or NTFS file system Hard Disk
TOKIWA DataRecovery
FreeWindows-Windows Hard Disk
FreeUndeleteFreeWindows-Windows Hard Disk
Wise Data RecoveryFreeWindows-Windows Hard Disk

Hard Disk Lifespan

Hard disk has a pretty decent lifespan; also, avoid replacing your internal hard disk with the cheaper external hard disk. The quality of the external disk is not as durable as the one made for internal although they use the same connector. Reason being that external hard disk is meant for occasional access whereas internal hard disk is designed to read and write operating system cache for months and years (servers) nonstop. Portable external hard disk cannot take such abuses.

Remember, backup your data on a monthly basis and always go for branded hard disk. Our favorite are Western Digital and Seagate.

storage media hard disk lifespan

15 comments on “Top 15 Free Data Recovery Software for Windows and Mac

  1. Tim Fisher April 5, 2013 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    ADRC Data Recovery Tools is another great, free file recovery program.

    • Wikipedia April 8, 2013 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      Seagate Recovery Services can help you get your files back quickly and efficiently

  2. Alan Henry April 5, 2013 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    Made by the same folks behind CCleaner, Recuva makes data recovery simple and easy

    • gameboy April 8, 2013 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      data recovery software mac free download full version

  3. Pinola April 5, 2013 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    Easeus Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition recovers deleted files, even if you’ve emptied the Recycling Bin or deleted them directly

    • nboy April 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      Data Recovery for Mac is an easy yet powerful Mac file recovery program

  4. Melanie April 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Orange County Data Recovery Service for RAID, Hard Drives, and more. InterData Recovery has industry leading success rates, FREE Evaluations

  5. KimJun April 6, 2013 at 12:32 am - Reply

    thanks for the open source data recovery list

    • Jimmy April 8, 2013 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      Even if you cannot access Windows, there is still a chance you can recover your data

  6. Data Recovery April 6, 2013 at 12:32 am - Reply

    Kroll Ontrack’s forensic data recovery software recovers data from any type of failed media while preserving evidence or metadata for litigation and investigation.

    • Zeti April 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      Best NTFS Data Recovery Software and Tool to recover deleted documents

  7. KoolKool April 6, 2013 at 12:33 am - Reply

    how about the ioSafe SoloPRO Data Recovery Service (DRS)?

  8. CorruptFilesMac April 6, 2013 at 12:34 am - Reply

    Where to Download Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery for Mac?

  9. Liza April 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Buy LaCie Data Recovery Insurance Level 3 features Protection Against Data Loss

  10. Dave Taylor April 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    One of the biggest challenges with data recovery is that the program can’t trust the file system information tables

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