DiskWarrior Review

This is a review of DiskWarrior, an advanced repair and data recovery tool for Macs.

I’ve worked in tech for several decades, providing IT training and support and writing software reviews and how-tos for business users. I’ve taken an in-depth look at DiskWarrior to let you know how likely it is to recover your lost data.

DiskWarrior fills a niche not covered by other data recovery applications. That means you may find a place for it in your Mac maintenance regime alongside a more traditional recovery tool, and if you use it regularly you are likely to prevent problems from happening.

Unfortunately, it’s not currently compatible with many modern Macs, so most users should hold off until a new version is released.

In this review, I’ll explore the types of problems it can help with. Let’s get started.

DiskWarrior Overview

Your entire digital life is on your Mac. DiskWarrior sees itself as a lifesaver.

It’s unable to help when the data loss is due to human error, such as deleting the wrong file or formatting the wrong drive. It can help when the data loss is due to errors in your Mac’s directory structure. It can also help you rescue a failing drive by creating a disk image.

Because it works differently from most other data recovery applications you should see it as a complementary tool rather than a competitor.

DiskWarrior costs $119.95 (one-time purchase) and can be purchased directly from Alsoft, the developers. That includes both a software download and a bootable flash drive. Shipping of the flash drive costs extra.

There is no trial version, so your first step will be making a purchase. The website stresses that all sales are final, and even requires you to press a button to confirm that you understand and agree with that.

That means that most users should definitely not purchase the current Version 5 Edition of the software. Wait until Version 6 and confirm that it works with the APFS file system.

If you know that you have an older Mac with an older file system and intend to keep it that way long-term, DiskWarrior 5 is a worthwhile tool. It will keep it running faster and eliminate a range of file-related problems from happening.

Recovery Features

Methods of data recovery offered:

  • Reads damaged directories to locate and rebuild salvageable files and folders
  • Diagnoses common file problems
  • Eliminates directory errors and optimizes directory performance
  • SMART monitoring for early warning of failing hard drives
  • Bootable recovery drive
  • Disk imaging

DiskWarrior takes a different approach to other data recovery applications. That means that it’s able to fix problems other tools can’t. 

It also offers preventative maintenance that solves problems before they happen. To facilitate that, the company recommends you run the software once or twice a month.

Supported Macs:

  • MacBook
  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • iMac
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac mini
  • Mac Pro

Supported operating systems:

  • Mac OS X Leopard (10.5)
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6)
  • OS X Lion (10.7)
  • OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)
  • OS X Mavericks (10.9)
  • OS X Yosemite (10.10)
  • OS X El Capitan (10.11)
  • macOS Sierra (10.12)
  • macOS High Sierra (10.13) but doesn’t support internal SSDs
  • macOS Mojave (10.14)
  • macOS Catalina (10.15)
  • macOS Big Sur (11.0) but only for external disks with the macOS Extended HFS+ File System Format

That last point is crucial to understand: Apple’s new APFS file system is not currently supported. That makes it useless for many users, including myself. All internal drives on current Macs are formatted APFS. The developers have provided a document that explains how to tell if your Mac uses APFS. [1]

DiskWarrior also does not support FAT-formatted drives, which many flash drives and memory cards use so they can be accessed by both Macs and PCs.

User Experience

Users have generally been satisfied with the software but user ratings have dropped since the software became incompatible with Macs using APFS. Ratings are currently average to good depending on which site you check.

  • 179 users gave it 4.1 stars on CNET and the vast majority of reviews are 5 stars [2]
  • 460 users on MacUpdate gave it a lower 3.4 stars [3]
  • 154 users on Amazon award it a slightly higher rating of 3.8 stars, and again, the majority of reviews are 5 stars [4]

Effectiveness

Will DiskWarrior effectively recover your lost data? Let’s start with the obvious—if you have a modern Mac your internal drive will be formatted with the APFS file system, and it won’t be very effective at all. You will be able to repair external Time Machine hard drives, and any drives formatted with an older Mac file system such as HFS+.

Before APFS, DiskWarrior had a very good reputation because of its ability to solve problems no other app could. That’s no longer true. One user review on MacUpdate puts it well:

For years DW has been the ONLY app that could fix broken Mac OS directories – that is until APFS… Since DW can’t talk to APFS volume directories it wouldn’t surprise me if their sales have gone to near zero. [5]

Some users gave negative reviews because they were because the software was unable to rebuild an SSD. But that’s a problem with SSDs, not DiskWarrior. 

The TRIM technology that increases their efficiency also makes data recovery difficult. Other users reported that the software was successful at repairing dead SSDs.

Who should use DiskWarrior? Users running an older Mac with a spinning hard drive formatted with an older file system may find that DiskWarrior keeps it running fast and problem-free. If that’s you, it’s a purchase worth considering.

Customer Support

The Alsoft Technical Support Page lists FAQs, new features, and compatibility news. There are links to startup instructions, video guides, requests to resend the software, how to identify APFS disks, product registration, and more. [6] Support can be contacted via an online form. [7]

FAQs

Will DiskWarrior 5 work on my Mac?

Probably not. It is not compatible with the APFS file system that all new Macs come with. If you have a modern Mac, wait until DiskWarrior 6 is available.

Can DiskWarrior recover my deleted files?

No, you need a different tool for that. I’ll recommend a few in the Alternatives section below.

Is DiskWarrior safe?

Yes. The software verifies repaired directories to make sure they’re error-free. It takes steps to ensure that even if there is a power outage during the repair your data will not be harmed.

Is DiskWarrior free?

No, there’s not even a free trial version. You must pay for the software before you can even download it.

Alternatives

If DiskWarrior isn’t right for you, here are some alternatives I recommend.

TechTool Pro 13

TechTool Pro offers features similar to DiskWarrior, and the latest version is compatible with APFS drives. It’s an alternative that works today.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Data Recovery can recover your deleted files with an easy-to-use wizard that will scan your drive quickly for lost files. It’s available for both Windows and Mac.

Stellar Data Recovery

Stellar is an easy-to-use application that can recover your deleted files and accidentally formatted drives. It’s reliable and effective, but slow. Windows and Mac versions are available.

R-Studio

R-Studio is an advanced tool suitable for data recovery professionals. It recovers files in a wide variety of data loss scenarios but has a steep learning curve. It’s available for both Windows and Mac.

Final Verdict

DiskWarrior can rescue your data in scenarios where other tools fail. But because it’s not currently compatible with most modern Macs, now is not the time to buy. DiskWarrior 6 is under development and should support APFS drives.

If you can’t wait until the release of the new version, consider DiskWarrior. It offers similar features and has been recently updated to support APFS.

But neither of those apps can help if your data loss was due to human error. If you accidentally deleted the wrong file or formatted the wrong drive, I recommend you use the free trial versions of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, Stellar Data Recovery, or R-Studio to see if they can locate your lost data.

References

About Adrian
Adrian is a tech geek who's worked in IT for quite a while. He has plenty of experience recovering lost data. He tried data recovery software many times when crucial data was lost due to computer failure or human error, and he was only successful about half of the time.

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