Best Partition Recovery Software

I tested 42 data recovery software products and found R-Studio Data Recovery and Prosoft Data Rescue to be the best options for rescuing your valuable data from formatted, deleted, and corrupt partitions.

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

Most tools are successful when simply recovering deleted files, but you can’t rely on them all in tougher cases. When industry experts tested how effective leading data recovery applications are when encountering partition problems, R-Studio Data Recovery and Prosoft Data Rescue came out on top.

Actually, R-Studio’s results are the best, and its scans the fastest, but it’s also difficult to use. Data Rescue isn’t far behind and is much easier to use, but its scans are much slower.

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

Let’s get started.

5 Best Data Recovery Tools for Partitions

Here are five reputable data recovery applications that have proven reliable when recovering data from formatted, deleted, and damaged partitions.

1. R-Studio Data Recovery (Best Overall Fast and Technical Tool)

R-Studio Data Recovery is incredibly advanced, so it’s no surprise that it scores higher than any other tool in difficult recovery scenarios. But that comes at the price of ease of use. It only suits more technical users who are willing to study the manual. Read my full review.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
  • Windows file systems: NTFS/NTSF5, ReFS, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT
  • Mac file systems: APFS, HFS+, HFSX, HFS

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

That effort will pay off. In industry tests, it’s proven to be more effective across the board, including data recovery from formatted, deleted, and corrupt partitions.

Data Recovery Digest gave it perfect scores for recovering from deleted and damaged partitions and an almost perfect score for recovery after a format. [1] No other application was as consistent.

DigiLab Inc ran five leading data recovery applications through a huge battery of tests, and R-Studio again came out the leader. [2] Here are its results in seven partition-related tests:

  1. It successfully recovered all files after an NTFS partition was formatted and was about twice as fast as the other applications.
  2. It recovered all files (and almost all file names) after a FAT32 partition was formatted, and was fastest again.
  3. It recovered all files after an NTFS partition was deleted, and did so about twice as fast as the other applications.
  4. It’s the only app to successfully recover all files and folders from a corrupt NTFS partition.
  5. It was 99.8% successful at recovering files from a corrupt FAT32 partition. Recover My Files was 100% successful, but much slower.
  6. It recovered all files (but not file names or the folder structure) from a corrupt HFS+ partition. The other apps were slower and less successful.

A single license costs $79.99 for both Mac and Windows.

2. Prosoft Data Rescue (Best Overall Slow and Easy-to-Use Tool)

Prosoft Data Rescue is an easy to use and effective data recovery tool. However, its scans are much slower than R-Studios, and it’s not as effective across the board. Read my full review.

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Windows file systems: Not listed
  • Mac file systems: APFS 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.

It achieved quite good results in DigiLab Inc’s tests, but not as good as R-Studio’s. [3]

  1. It was quite successful after an NTFS partition was formatted, but failed to recover TXT files and didn’t correctly identify DOCX and XLSX files.
  2. It recovered all files after a FAT32 partition was formatted, and was only a little slower than R-Studio.
  3. It recovered all files after an NTFS partition was deleted, but took twice as long as R-Studio.
  4. It recovered all files from a corrupt NTFS partition, but unlike R-Studio, couldn’t recover the file names or folder structure.
  5. It couldn’t recover all of the files from a corrupt FAT32 partition and incorrectly identified DOCX and XLSX files.
  6. It was quite successful at recovering data from a corrupt HFS+ partition but failed to recover TXT files and didn’t correctly identify DOCX and XLSX files.

The software is a free download that will scan for your lost files for free. You only pay for the files you want to recover, and this can be as low as $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.

3. Recover My Files (Best for Corrupt FAT32 Partitions on Windows)

Recover My Files is an easy-to-use Windows data recovery tool. It performed well in some recovery tests, and not so well in others (such as corrupt partitions), making it suitable for some data recovery scenarios but not others. Read my full review.

  • Platforms: Windows only
  • Windows file systems: NTFS, FAT
  • Mac file systems: HFS+ but not the new APFS

The user interface is easy to use and feels at home on a Windows computer and no technical knowledge is required to recover your files. However, an activation code is required before all of the features are unlocked, 

It achieved mixed results in DigLab Inc’s data recovery tests. [4]

  1. It was unable to recover all files from a reformatted NTFS partition, and some recovered files were unable to be opened.
  2. It recovered all files after a FAT32 partition was formatted, but was significantly slower than R-Studio.
  3. It successfully recovered all files from a deleted NTFS partition but was the slowest app to do so.
  4. It failed to find or recover any files from a corrupt NTFS partition.
  5. It was 100% successful when recovering files from a corrupt FAT32 partition, but was the slowest app to do so.
  6. It failed to find or recover any files from a corrupt HFS+ partition.

In a separate test performed by ThinkMobiles, it recovered more files from a formatted partition than all applications but one. [5]

There are two versions to consider: Standard costs $69.95 and includes the features most users need, including the creation of disk images. Professional costs $99.95 and adds the ability to scan disk images and raid arrays as well as additional customization options.

4. Disk Drill (Great for Formatted Partitions)

Disk Drill is an effective tool that combines data recovery with disk cleanup. Read my full review.

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Windows file systems: NTFS, FAT
  • Mac file systems: APFS, HFS+

This app is suitable for both non-technical and advanced users and achieves a good balance. 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.

It achieved one of the best results in ThinkMobiles’ formatted partition test. Out of 25 apps, only three recovered more files. [6] Unfortunately, it was included in any other comparative tests that I’m aware of.

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.

The free version of Disk Drill has a very low 500 MB recovery limit but includes other useful features such as Recovery Vault and some cleanup utilities.

5. Stellar Data Recovery (Also Great but Slow)

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

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
  • Windows file systems: NTFS, exFAT, FAT16, FAT32
  • Mac file systems: APFS, HFS+

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

Data Recovery Digest awards it a high 5.0 stars for recovery after a reformat and a perfect 6.0 stars for recovering a deleted partition. However, it only achieved 2.4 stars in their damaged partition test. [8]

Here’s how it performed in DigiLab’s battery of tests. [9]

  1. It achieved the worst results recovering data from a reformatted NTFS partition, and its scan was the slowest.
  2. It successfully recovered files from a formatted FAT32 partition but was the slowest to do so.
  3. It successfully recovered all files from a deleted NTFS partition, and again was the slowest.
  4. It was able to recover many but not all files from a corrupt NTFS partition, and its scan was slowest.
  5. It failed to recover all files from a corrupt FAT32 partitioned created a lot of junk files that never actually existed on the drive.
  6. It recovered many but not all files from a corrupt HFS+ partition, but with no file names or folder structure.

Stellar Data Recovery Professional costs $79.99/year on both Windows and Mac. The free plan can recover up to 1 GB of data, which usually won’t be enough.

Guide to Choosing a Data Recovery Tool for Partitions

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

What Is a Partition?

Hard drives are partitioned into one or more logical hard drives. For example, modern internal Mac and Windows drives are split into one partition for the system and another for the data. They may also include a recovery partition which can be used to reinstall the operating system.

Partitions may be formatted with the same or entirely different file systems. You’ll find more information about them on TechTerms.com. [10]

How is data recovery possible? When you delete a file, its data isn’t actually removed from the partition. 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.

What Is a File System?

The way your computer keeps track of your files and folders is known as the file system. When you format a drive (actually a partition on your drive), a specific file system is used. You’ll find more information about file systems on TechTerms.com. [11]

There are many file systems, and here are the main ones you need to be aware of:

  • Virtually all internal Windows drives are formatted with NTFS. If you have a Windows server, it’s probably formatted ReFS.
  • All modern Macs use the new APFS file format, while Macs running an older version of macOS may use the older HFS+ file system.
  • External hard drives may be formatted with any of the above file systems, or a cross-platform FAT format.

What Comparative Data Recovery Tests Are Available?

I want to make sure I’m recommending apps that are actually effective. Fortunately, some companies have done the hard work for me by testing leading data recovery tools.

Here are three that I’ve found particularly helpful at demonstrating which apps are up to the task:

What is Your Budget and Experience Level?

You don’t need to be a genius to recover lost data. While the leading application is designed for data recovery professionals, many of the others I recommend are designed for users without any technical expertise.

Also, consider the cost of each tool. The price range of my recommendations starts at $19 and goes all the way up to $100.

Fortunately, they all 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 located.

How Long Are You Willing to Wait?

Data recovery takes time, and sometimes a great deal of it. How much time do you have?

  • Our leading application is the fastest, but some of the easier-to-use apps are significantly slower.
  • Large drives will take longer to scan than small ones.
  • More complex problems often take longer to scan than easier ones.
  • A deep scan of a large drive is likely to take many hours.

Fortunately, 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.

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.

On paper, that app is R-Studio. It outperforms all of the competition in virtually every test. However, it’s designed for experts, so casual users may not be able to make the most of this tool.

Fortunately, there are many easy-to-use alternatives. The one that gives the most consistent results next to R-Studio is Prosoft Data Rescue. Others outperform it on certain tests, so choose the one that matches your needs.

Fortunately, if you’re unsuccessful with one application, you can try another. The free trial version of each app will show you if your lost files can be found. If so, purchase it and complete the recovery process. If not, move on and try the next one.

References