Best Bootable Data Recovery Software

I tested 42 data recovery software products and found Disk Drill to be the best option that offers a bootable recovery disk.

I’ve been working in the tech industry for the last few decades and regularly help people with computer disasters, including lost data.

Disk Drill is the best data recovery tool for creating a bootable rescue drive because it’s suitable for both casual and advanced users, and is effective at recovering lost data.

But every situation is different. So I’ve also reviewed the best data recovery application in every category.

Let’s get started.

5 Best Bootable Data Recovery Tools

Here are five data recovery applications that let you create a bootable recovery drive.

1. Disk Drill (Best for Casual and Advanced Users)

Disk Drill is an easy-to-use tool that combines data recovery with disk cleanup. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Windows, Mac

It’s equally suitable for non-technical and advanced users. A simple three-step wizard is available, and more experienced users are offered plenty of ways to customize the recovery process.

You can create a bootable recovery drive from within the app. You’ll need a 2 GB (or larger) USB drive or some other type of external storage.

This will increase your chances of data recovery if your system drive becomes corrupt and stops booting. It’s also best practice to use a separate boot drive when scanning your computer’s internal drive for lost files.

Disk Drill Pro costs $89 for both Windows and Mac users. Mac users also get access to Disk Drill with a $9.99/month subscription to SetApp.

2. R-Studio Data Recovery (Best for Technical Users)

R-Studio Data Recovery is an effective tool designed for data recovery professionals and requires more technical knowledge than the other tools in this roundup. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

It’s not suitable for casual users. It’s designed for IT professionals and you’ll have to spend time studying the manual to get the most out of it.

R-Studio Emergency is a feature that allows you to boot your computer when its internal drive is damaged then recover the data stored on it. You can create an R-Studio startup disk using a writable CD or DVD, USB drive, or even a floppy disk.

A single license costs $79.99.

3. Prosoft Data Rescue (Also Great for Casual Users)

Prosoft Data Rescue is also effective and much easier to use. However, its scans are much slower than R-Studios. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows

Prosoft Data Rescue’s user interface displays clear and helpful descriptions of each feature. Two modes are available, one focused on ease-of-use for regular users, and the other designed for advanced users.

Recovery drives can be create using a USB flash drive at least 8 GB in size. It will allow you to recover from a non-booting internal drive or a boot drive.

Apparently, you can also purchase one preconfigured, but I couldn’t find it in the store.

The software is a free download and will attempt to locate your lost files for free. You only pay for the files you want to recover, and this can be as low as $19, but the official website is light on details.

4. Stellar Data Recovery (Also Great for Casual Users)

Stellar Photo Recovery’s scans are thorough and effective, and will often keep you waiting longer than other data recovery apps. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows

Stellar Data Recovery guides you through the data recovery process in three simple steps. That makes it suitable for non-technical users.

The software allows you to create a bootable USB recovery drive so you can access your computer when it won’t boot. It will give you access to your system drive and allow you to recover its data.

You’ll need a Professional plan (or higher) for this functionality, and it costs $79.99/year on both Windows and Mac.

5. Wondershare Recoverit (Also Great for Casual Users)

Wondershare Recoverit is an effective tool that takes its time scanning your hard drive. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows

This app is suitable for non-technical computer users. Data recovery is performed in three simple steps, and useful tips are displayed as you navigate them.

Wondershare Recoverit allows you to create a bootable drive so you can recover lost data after a system crash. Under System Crash Data Recovery you can select a USB drive or CD/DVD for this purpose.

You’ll need the Standard or Advanced plan to create a recovery drive:

  • Standard (Windows): $59.95/month, $69.95/year, $79.95 lifetime
  • Standard (Mac): $95.95/month, $99.95/year, $139.95 lifetime
  • Advanced (Windows): $69.95/month, $79.95/year, $89.95 lifetime
  • Advanced (Mac): $105/95/month, 119.95/year, $159.95 lifetime

Guide to Choosing a Bootable Data Recovery Tool

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a bootable data recovery tool.

Use a Bootable Recovery Tool When Scanning Your System Drive

It’s best practice not to attempt data recovery from the drive your computer booted from. That means that if you’ve lost data from your Mac or PC’s system drive, you should boot from a recovery drive and scan it from there.

In some cases, you won’t have a choice. If your system has crashed or the startup drive has become corrupt, your computer may be unable to start up. You have no choice but to boot from your rescue drive.

That means that it’s best to create the rescue drive before you need it. If your computer won’t start up you’ll need to use a different one to create the bootable recovery drive.

How to Select Which Drive to Boot From

By default, your computer will try to boot from your system drive. There are steps you can take while your computer is booting to select a different drive. The process varies depending on whether you use a PC or Mac.

On Windows

The way you select a different startup drive on a Windows computer can vary. Here are a few common methods. If they don’t work, consult your PC’s user manual.

  • Hold down Shift while selecting Restart from the Windows menu. This is the easiest way, as long as Windows is still running.
  • As your computer boots, watch the screen for instructions about how to enter your BIOS setup. This changes from computer to computer, though Delete and F2 are commonly used keys. From there, make sure that CDs and flash drives come before your C: drive in the list.

On Mac

Press and hold the Option key as your Mac starts up. The Startup Manager will show you an icon for each boot drive that’s available. Use your mouse or keyboard to select your rescue drive, then double-click or press Return.

Final Verdict

To recover lost files from your system drive or get your computer up and running again when it won’t boot, you need to create a bootable recovery drive. Any of the products I listed above will be able to help. I recommend Disk Drill to casual users and R-Studio for those who are more technically inclined.