Best USB Data Recovery Software

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2023

I tested 42 data recovery software products and found Wondershare Recoverit to be the best option for recovering data from USB flash drives and hard drives.

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

Wondershare Recoverit is the best data recovery tool for USB drives because it’s highly effective while also being fast and easy to use. R-Studio Data Recovery may better suit more technical users.

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 USB

Here are six applications that effectively recover data from USB drives.

1. Wondershare Recoverit (Best Overall for Casual Users)

Wondershare Recoverit is an effective tool for recovering files you accidentally deleted from a USB drive or files that were lost after an accidental format.

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows

Non-technical computer users will feel comfortable using this application. The data recovery process is performed in three simple steps and useful tips are displayed at each stage.

I tested the effectiveness of dozens of data recovery applications by copying a folder of 10 files onto an empty 4 GB USB flash drive and then deleting it. The files included some PDFs, a Word document, and MP3s.

Every application recommended in this roundup successfully recovered all 10 files. It took Wondershare Recoverit 14 minutes on Windows and 9 minutes on Mac, which is in the middle of the range.

ThinkMobiles conducted several recovery tests on a USB flash drive. [1] In one test they deleted 126 files, and every tool recommended in this article was able to recover all of them. Recoverit’s scan took 1m 46s, which is reasonably fast.

They also formatted the drive, and Recoverit was able to recover 113 files, which is one of the best results. They awarded the application a high recovery efficiency of 95%.

The Essential plan will suit most users and costs $59.95/year for Windows and $79.95 for Mac. Lifetime plans cost $69.95 and $89.95 respectively, and the more expensive Standard plan lets you create a bootable recovery disk.

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

R-Studio Data Recovery is quite technical and very effective.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

R-Studio Data Recovery is designed for IT professionals willing to spend time studying the manual. It’s definitely not suitable for casual users.

In my test, it was able to recover all ten files deleted from a USB flash drive in 4m 47s on Windows, and exactly four minutes on Mac.

It also recovered all 126 deleted files in ThinkMobiles’ deleted files test and took just 40s to do so. It recovered 113 files in their format test, the same result as Wondershare Recoverit. They, too, were awarded a restore efficiency of 95%.

In more extensive testing by DigiLab Inc, they were found to outperform every other data recovery application tested. [2] That power, however, comes at the cost of ease of use.

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

3. Disk Drill (Best Tool with Cleanup Features)

Disk Drill does two jobs for the price of one: data recovery and cleanup.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac

Disk Drill is suitable for both casual and technical users. The app offers a simple three-step wizard, and experienced will find plenty of ways to customize the recovery process to their liking.

It took just four minutes on Mac and five on Windows to recover all ten deleted files from a USB flash drive in my test. That’s one of the fastest scans I recorded.

ThinkMobiles’ successful recovery of 126 deleted files took about the same: 5m 11s. It was also able to recover a very high 117 files from a formatted flash drive and was awarded a recovery efficiency score of 96%.

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

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

4. Recuva (Best Free Tool for Windows Users)

Recuva is a Windows application with a usable free plan. It doesn’t restrict the amount of data you can recover from your USB drive.

  • Platforms: Windows only

The app offers an easy-to-use wizard that asks a few simple questions. Technical users may prefer to use the app’s advanced mode so they can navigate the application freely on their own.

When I deleted 10 files from a USB flash drive, Recuva located them all in a fairly speedy 5m 54s.

ThinkMobile’s scan was even faster, just 54s. It was able to recover all 126 files in their deleted files test, and 107 files after the USB drive was formatted. Its restore efficiency is 92%.

Recuva Free won’t cost you a cent and offers features suitable for most users. Recuva Professional costs just $19.95 and offers a couple of features plus premium support.

5. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Also Great with Fast Scans)

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is fast, easy to use, and effective at simple and complex recovery jobs.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac

An easy-to-understand wizard will lead you step-by-step through the recovery process. This tool is suitable for non-technical users.

It took EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard just five minutes to recover all 10 files that I deleted from a 4 GB USB flash drive, and four minutes on Mac.

The scan in ThinkMobile’s test took just 1m 6s. It was able to recover all 126 deleted files, and 95 files after a format, which is a little lower than the other recovery apps in this roundup. Its recovery efficiency is 88%.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro costs $69.95 for Windows and $89.95 for Mac. Free remote consultation with a specialist is included. That’s good to know in case you get stuck.

The free plan is limited to recovering just 2 GB of data. This can be increased to 3.5 GB by sharing the product on social media.

6. Stellar Data Recovery (Also Great with Thorough Scans)

Stellar Data Recovery will thoroughly scan your USB drive, and often takes longer than other data recovery apps.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac

Non-technical users won’t have any trouble using this application. It’s designed to be simple, and data recovery can be performed in three simple guided steps.

While Stellar Data Recovery was able to recover all 10 deleted files in my USB flash drive test, it took significantly longer than the other applications I tested. The Mac version took eight minutes, and the Windows version a very sluggish 47m 25s.

ThinkMobiles also found it slow. It took 21m 52s to recover all 126 deleted files from their USB flash drive. It also recovered 100 files from the drive after it was formatted, and its recovery efficiency is 90%.

Stellar Data Recovery Professional costs $79.99/year on both Windows and Mac. There’s also a free plan, but this can only recover 1 GB of data.

Guide to Choosing a Data Recovery Tool for USB

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?

When you delete a file from a USB drive, the data is not actually removed. It’s simply marked as being deleted, and the space it occupies becomes available for new files. In time, it will be overwritten.

So act as quickly as possible to increase your chances of success. Once the data is overwritten, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever get it back.

Choose a Tool That Suits Your Level of Experience

Fortunately, most data recovery tools don’t require any technical knowledge. They will scan for your lost data once you answer a few simple questions.

More advanced users may find this restrictive. Some applications also offer an advanced mode, while others are designed with technical users in mind. Make sure you choose a tool that suits your level of expertise.

Choose a Tool That Suits Your Budget

Also, consider the cost of each tool. How strict is your budget? Few free data recovery applications are worth using, so most of the tools I recommend cost money.

I do recommend one free tool for Windows users, Recuva. The other applications range in price from $20 to $95. 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.

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?

Some applications scan quicker scans than others and small USB drives take less time to scan than larger ones. For example, a 4 GB 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.

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. Every application recommended in this roundup was 100% successful when recovering recently deleted files from a USB flash drive, both in my test and ThinkMobiles’. That’s encouraging.

Wondershare Recoverit is my first recommendation for USB recovery. It’s fast, easy to use, and has a very high recovery efficiency rating. It was able to recover all deleted files and most files were lost due to an accidental drive format. It’s suitable for both casual and technical users.

The other apps I recommend are also worth testing and have a high chance of successfully recovering your lost USB files. Fortunately, the free trial of each one will let you know whether your lost files can be found before you need to purchase the full version.