Best Data Recovery Software for Mac

I tested 42 data recovery software products and found EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to be the best option for Mac.

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

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best data recovery tool for Mac because it’s fast and effective, and remains easy to use even when attempting data recovery in complex situations.

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

Let’s get started.

6 Best Data Recovery Tools for Mac

Here are six effective and usable data recovery applications that run on Macs.

1. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Best Overall with Fast Scans)

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard provides the perfect balance between speed, ease of use, and effectiveness. It takes you through the recovery process in simple steps and is suitable for both simple and complex recovery jobs. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Supported storage media: Hard drives, USB drives, SD cards, and more
  • Supported file systems: Mac APFS and HFS+ formats as well as formats commonly used on Macs and external drives
  • Supported file types: Most popular types of document, image, video, audio, email, and archive, and more

This application is suitable for casual home and office users. An easy-to-follow wizard guides you through the data recovery process in three clearly explained steps.

Despite its ease of use, the app is no lightweight. It’s capable of recovering data in more complex scenarios, such as when you accidentally format the wrong drive.

Scan times are fast. I used EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to scan a 4 GB flash drive in just four minutes, which was the fastest speed achieved in this roundup, and shared with R-Studio Data Recovery and Disk Drill.

Scanning large hard drives will take much longer, so it’s useful that the application allows you to pause and resume scans to perform them over several sessions. Locating your files in the long list of results is made easier with the provided sort, search, and preview features.

EaseUS’s Pro plan is suitable for most home and business users and its one-time cost of $89.95. Helpfully, this includes free remote consultation with a specialist in difficult recovery cases. That hand-holding in crucial data recovery cases can provide a great deal of peace of mind.

There’s also a free plan, but you’re limited to recovering just 2 GB of data. You can increase that limit to 3.5 GB by sharing the product on social media.

2. Stellar Data Recovery (Best Overall with Thorough Scans)

Stellar Data Recovery is another easy-to-use data recovery tool with an easy-to-use interface. But its scans are around twice as slow as EaseUS’s, focusing on thoroughness rather than speed. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Supported storage media: Hard drives, USB drives, SD cards, and more
  • Supported file systems: Mac APFS and HFS+ formats as well as formats commonly used on Macs and external drives
  • Supported file types: Most popular types of document, photo, video, and more

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

Despite its simplicity, Stellar Data Recovery is effective at locating lost files in both simple and complex data loss scenarios. It can recover permanently deleted files, data from damaged file systems, and files that were on partitions you accidentally formatted or deleted.

In part, it achieves this through performing more thorough scans. When I used it to scan my 4 GB flash drive, it took eight minutes, twice as long as the fastest three apps. These slower scans may be able to locate more lost files than alternatives like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

That makes the included pause and resume feature even more appreciated. If a scan is particularly slow, you’re able to perform it over several sessions. And once the lost files are found, you can narrow down the list using the sort, search, and preview features.

There are a few features not offered by EaseUS. You can create a bootable recovery drive that offers a greater chance of success on internal drives. And if you try everything and ultimately fail, you can mail in your drive for professional data recovery at an additional fee.

Stellar Data Recovery is a subscription service with a large number of plans. Stellar Data Recovery for Mac Professional costs $79.99/year is the plan I recommend to most home and office users.

There is a free plan, but it limits you to recovering just 1 GB of data. In most cases, that’s just not enough, but it’s good to know it’s there. A free trial will scan for lost files so that you can confirm the ones you want to recover are actually located before paying for the software.

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

R-Studio Data Recovery is an extremely effective data recovery tool, but it comes at a cost—it’s not easy to use. This app is designed for data recovery professionals and requires more technical knowledge than other tools. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux
  • Supported storage media: Hard drives, USB drives, floppy drives, CDs, DVDs, Compact-Flash cards, Memory Sticks, and more
  • Supported file systems: A very wide range of Mac, Windows, Mac, and Linux formats, both common and uncommon
  • Supported file types: Most popular types of document, image, video, audio, email, and archive, and more

R-Studio Data Recovery is not suitable for casual home or office users. It’s designed for IT professionals and you’ll have to spend time studying the manual to get the most out of it.

Data Recovery Digest performed thorough tests on seven leading data recovery tools [1]. R-Studio was given the highest rating in each category but one, where it came second. That makes it the perfect choice for more technical users who prioritize success over ease of use.

Scans are fast—it took just four minutes to scan a 4 GB flash drive. That’s the fastest time I recorded, equaled by EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and Disk Drill.

It’s no surprise that this tool includes many advanced features such as pause and resume, saving scans, and creating a bootable recovery drive. You can sort, search, and preview the lost files that are located.

A single license costs $79.99. A free trial will scan for lost files but not recovery them.

4. Disk Drill (Best Tool with Cleanup Features)

Disk Drill is a tool that combines data recovery with disk cleanup. It’s like getting two tools for the price of one. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Supported storage media: Hard drives, USB drives, SD cards, and more
  • Supported file systems: Mac APFS and HFS+ formats as well as formats commonly used on Macs and external drives
  • Supported file types: Most popular types of document, image, video, audio, email, and archive, and more

This app is suitable for both casual and advanced users. Non-technical users can restore their data using a simple three-step wizard. More experienced users are offered plenty of ways to customize the recovery process.

Disk Drill is very effective at basic data recovery tasks such as recovering recently deleted files. It’s also capable of data recovery in more complicated cases such as an accidentally formatted drive, as demonstrated by tests performed by ThinkMobiles. [2]

It scanned my 4 GB flash drive in four minutes, just as fast as EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

Advanced data recovery features such as the creation of a bootable recovery drive and the ability to clone your hard drive are offered. Running it proactively will protect your data in a Recovery Vault for guaranteed recovery. And if it fails to recover your data, you can mail the drive to the company and only pay for the service if they are successful.

Finally, there are the disk cleanup features I mentioned previously. These will save space on your drive by analyzing your disk space to identify space hogs, locate and delete duplicate files, and more.

The tiny 500 MB limit of Disk Drill’s free version allows you to test the program but not use it seriously for data recovery. However, it does include many useful features including Recovery Vault and some cleanup utilities. The Pro version costs $89 and removes all limitations.

5. Prosoft Data Rescue (Also Great with Fast Scans)

Prosoft Data Rescue performs fast scans but isn’t quite as effective as other data recovery tools. It may cost less than other data recovery apps, but the lack of pricing details on the official website makes that difficult to know for sure. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Supported storage media: Hard drives, USB drives, SD cards, and more
  • Supported file systems: Prosoft doesn’t offer an official list but does mention that recent versions support Apple’s new APFS file system. All typical Mac and Windows file systems seem to be supported.
  • Supported file types: Most popular types of document, image, video, audio, email, and archive, and more

At each step, 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. That makes it suitable for users of all experience levels.

It’s a useful tool, and effective for both simple and complex data recovery jobs. It’s worth using, but not the sharpest tool on the shelf. In DigiLab Inc’s comparative test, was outperformed by competitors every time. [3]

Scanning a 4 GB flash drive took five minutes—only slightly behind the fastest apps in this roundup.

While you can’t pause and resume a scan, once it’s finished you can save it for recovery at a later time. Sort, search, and preview allow you to conveniently narrow down the list of lost files that are located. The app allows you to create a bootable recovery drive and make an exact duplicate of your drive.

The software is a free download that will scan your drive for free. You only pay for the files you want to recover, and this starts at $19. Unfortunately, the official website is light on details, so I can’t give you a more accurate picture of how much a typical data recovery job will cost.

6. Wondershare Recoverit (Also Great with Thorough Scans)

Wondershare Recoverit is effective with both simple and advanced scans, but these take even longer than Stellar Data Recovery. The Essential plan subscription costs about the same as Stellar, but Recoverit also includes the ability to purchase a lifetime license for just a little more money. Read my full review.

  • Supported platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Supported storage media: The official website claims it works with any storage media
  • Supported file systems: Mac APFS and HFS+ formats as well as formats commonly used on Macs and external drives
  • Supported file types: 1,000+ file formats including popular image, music, document, video, archive, and email formats.

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.

The application excels at basic data recovery jobs such as recently deleted files. It’s also capable of more complex jobs, and ThinkMobiles found that it was able to restore a large number of files after formatting a drive, and awarded it a high restore efficiency score of 95. [4]

When I tested the application, a scan of my 4 GB flash drive took nine minutes. That’s over twice as long as the fastest three tools in this roundup, and even slower than Stellar Data Recovery, making it the slowest app in this roundup. But it’s fair to mention that many similar tools not included in this roundup took even longer—between 15 and 25 minutes.

You’re able to pause and review scans and save them for recovery at a later time. After the scan is completed, you can sort, search, and preview the located files to narrow down on the ones you’re looking for. The Standard and Advanced plans also allow you to create a bootable recovery drive.

There are three plans available for Wondershare Recoverit for Mac, each of which costs quite a bit more than the Windows version:

  • Essential: $75.95/month, $79.95/year, $89.95 lifetime
  • Standard: $95.95/month, $99.95/year, $139.95 lifetime
  • Advanced: $105/95/month, 119.95/year, $159.95 lifetime

The higher tiers include additional functionality. The Essential plan will meet most users’ needs, while Standard adds a bootable toolkit and Advanced adds the ability to repair corrupted videos.

Guide to Choosing a Data Recovery Tool for Mac

Before making your choice, it’s helpful to become familiar with how data recovery is possible and some of the issues that data recovery tools can help with.

How Is Data Recovery Possible?

Your files are stored on your Mac’s internal drive and possibly external drives as well, such as a USB flash drive or SD card. Their name, location, and other details are stored in the directory system.

When you delete a file, its data isn’t actually removed from your drive, nor is its listing removed from the directory. It is simply marked as being deleted, and the space it occupies is now available. In time, the directory listing and the data will be overwritten as you create new files.

If you delete a file accidentally, it’s best to act quickly, while your file is still found in the directory and its data on your hard drive. If you do, recovery is relatively easy using a quick scan. In my experience, most tools will be successful. If you don’t, some apps are more capable than others in difficult data recovery scenarios.

If the file is no longer listed in a directory, the software will have to perform a deep scan, looking at the data on your hard drive byte by byte. This is slow and complex. There are no file names, and it’s not even clear where each lost file begins and ends. This is where support for specific file types helps—it allows the software to identify your lost files in all that random data.

Unfortunately, if your data has been overwritten by new files, there’s no way for you to recover it. Unless you made a backup, it is gone forever.

Can I recover data from an SSD?

Probably not. Recovering data from SSDs is problematic due to the TRIM technology they use for increased efficiency and service life. TRIM automatically clears disk sectors that are not being used, and this makes data recovery virtually impossible. Unfortunately, many data recovery applications skip over this in their documentation.

While it’s technically possible to turn TRIM off, it’s not a good idea, and you’d have to do this before you experience data loss.

Choose a Tool That Suits Your Budget and Experience

You don’t need to be a genius to recover lost data. Many data recovery applications are designed for users without a lot of technical expertise. They allow you to scan for lost data in just a few simple steps, using a wizard.

Some also offer an advanced mode that gives you more control over the data recovery process and better customization options. Others are designed with only advanced users in mind. Make sure you choose a tool that matches your level of experience.

Also, consider the cost of each tool. How strict is your budget? Few free data recovery applications are worth using, especially on Macs, so the tools I recommend cost money. The range of prices is quite wide, and some are one-off purchases while others are ongoing subscriptions.

Fortunately, virtually all data recovery applications allow you to scan for lost data for free. You only need to pay for the software once you can see that your lost data has been found.

Choose a Tool That Works with Your Computer and Drives

You need a tool that runs on a Mac, and every application included in this roundup does. Each one also supports both APFS and HFS+ file systems used on internal Mac drives, as well as common external drive formats like FAT.

Make sure the software also supports the type of drive that your lost data is stored on. Fortunately, most apps support hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, and more.

Consider How Long Are You Willing to Wait

Data recovery takes time, and sometimes a great deal of it. How much time do you have? Are you willing to wait longer if it means a better chance of getting your files back?

Some applications scan quicker scans than others, and small drives are faster to scan than larger ones. For example, a 4 GB USB flash drive can be scanned in just minutes, while a multi-terabyte hard drive can take many hours or even days.

Some tools allow you to pause a scan and resume it when you have more time. Others allow you to save the list of lost files that have been located so that you can search for the ones you want to recover in a separate session.

Choose the Tool Most Likely to Be Successful

I mentioned earlier that most data recovery files are quite successful with simple jobs such as recovering recently deleted files. But not all tools are as successful at more complex jobs.

For example, recovering from an accidentally formatted drive isn’t so easy, and corrupted and physically damaged drives pose a much more serious challenge to the software. Comparative industry tests show that some tools are better at these jobs than others.

It can also be difficult to locate the files you want to recover. In many cases, you’ll be given a long list of many thousands of lost files, and that makes locating the files you want to recover like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Fortunately, some applications offer the ability to search, sort, and preview those files. That will make your job much easier.

Finally, some features are designed to help in more extreme data recovery scenarios. For example, to recover data from your computer’s internal drive, use a tool that allows you to create a bootable recovery disk.

If your drive is on its last legs, creating a disk image or clone is helpful. This copies all of the data to a second drive, including the remnants of deleted files that have been left behind. You can then scan the new drive for lost data rather than putting additional strain on the original.

What If I Can’t Recover My Files?

You may have lost some very valuable and irreplaceable files. What if you’re unable to get them back using data recovery software? Contact a professional.

Google will help you find a reputable data recovery specialist in your area, and they can use advanced techniques like disassembling faulty hard drives. Their services are not cheap, but it’s money worth spent if you need that lost data back.

Final Verdict

When choosing a tool to rescue your valuable lost data, you want the one that will give you the best chance of success.

I recommend EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. It’s fast and easy to use, but also effective and able to locate lost files in a wide range of data recovery scenarios. It’s been thoroughly tested by industry experts and includes the features you’re most likely to need.

Stellar Data Recovery has many of these benefits, but its scans are more thorough and take longer. If you find that EaseUS files to locate your lost data, Stellar may succeed.

The free trial of either tool will demonstrate whether your files can be located before you need to pay. If your scan is unsuccessful, move on to the next tool and try again.

References