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Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison

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The Best Pro Data Recovery Software - Review 2022

If you are a data recovery professional, you face much more challenging tasks than home users. As such, you have higher demands for the software you use. Professional data recovery software goes above and beyond the features and performance of the programs we evaluated in our article: “Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison.” These programs are intended to be used by technicians who have a deep knowledge of recovery methods, hard drive operation, and the various different file systems used by businesses and larger operations. A good professional data recovery program includes the features that allow you to fully utilize your knowledge while omitting extraneous features that may be more suitable for amateurs or home users.

Furthermore, the market for professional data recovery software is very dynamic. As new data storage and data recovery technologies are developed, new programs enter the market and established developers add functionality to their existing products. To stay abreast of the latest offerings, we update our professional data recovery software comparison on an annual basis. This year, our criteria remain the same, though we’ve added a few additional programs to our review.

A program that is suitable for professional data recovery must have the following features in addition to standard ones:

  • A wide variety of supported file systems, including those used in server environments.
  • RAID recovery, with support for rare and non-standard RAID layouts.
  • Advanced hexadecimal editor that is able to parse and interpret disk data.
  • Advanced disk imaging and copying.
  • Additional features that can expand the data recovery services you can offer. For example, network data recovery allows technicians to provide clients full-fledged remote data recovery service from anywhere in the world.

From a functionality standpoint, the above features are key. The end user license is equally important. The end user license should allow for performance of commercial data recovery on your client’s machines and systems. Many programs suitable for professional data recovery are offered in multiple versions, each with a different end user license. For our descriptions, we give the pricing that includes an end user license suitable for working on systems other than your own.

On the other hand, some features are less crucial for professionals. Many do-it-yourself data recovery programs include wizard-style interfaces that pre-select various parameters for applicability to the most common cases. Data recovery pros may find these features unhelpful, or even restrictive, and may prefer a more advanced interface that allows greater control and customization. For this comparison, we will be providing very limited focus on these basic features. However, we do address the demo mode restrictions for each professional data recovery program. Each of these data recovery utilities has its own strengths and weaknesses, and being able to estimate a particular program’s ability to recover files in a specific scenario without making the significant investment in a commercial license can be extremely useful.

And a final note: Although our discussion is dedicated to logical data recovery (i.e. data recovery from a problematic file system on an otherwise healthy hard drive) we should point out that some professional data recovery programs can work together with special disk imaging and recovery hardware. Such hardware and software integration can retrieve data even from severely damaged hard drives. This functionality, while not essential for all tasks, can greatly expand the level of service you can offer to your data recovery customers.

  • 2022
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Professional Data Recovery Software Tested and Evaluated in 2022

For the 2022 update of our professional data recovery software comparison, we keep the rest of the scope of our tests the same as the tests of 2021.

We removed DMDE and replaced it with DiskGenius. We also change Recovery Explorer RAID to Recovery Explorer Professional.

We added one new program to our tests:

DiskGenius (ver. 5.4.2.1239)

DiskGenius

Reviewed Version: 5.4.2.1239

Prices: From US$ 69.99 to US$ 699.99

Host operating systems: Windows

Support for data recovery hardware: No

We continue to test and evaluate the programs which were included in our 2020 review:

Recovery Explorer Professional (ver. 9.4)

Recovery Explorer Professional

Reviewed Version: 9.4

Prices: Professional Recovery: Personal: US$ 190.00, Commercial License: US$ 493.63, Corporate License: US$ 858.52.

Host operating systems: Starting from Windows XP Service Pack 3 Versions for Mac OS X and Linux with the same functionality are available.

Support for data recovery hardware: No

R-Studio (ver. 9.0.190275)

R-Studio

Reviewed Version: 9.0.190275

Prices: R-Studio Standalone US$ 79.99, Corporate US$ 179.99, T80+ US$ 79.99, Technician US$ 899.00

Host operating systems: Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP/2000, Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012/2008/2003 (32/64 bit)

Support for data recovery hardware: Yes DeepSpar Disk Imager™ (http://ww.deepspar.com/products-ds-disk-imager.html), USB Stabilizer (https://www.deepspar.com/usb-stabilizer.html), RapidSpar (RapidSpar Data Recovery Equipment for IT Service Providers ) (Technician/T80+ licenses only)

ReclaiMe File Recovery (ver. 5059)

ReclaiMe File Recovery

Reviewed Version: 5059

Prices: Standard: US $79.95, Ultimate: US $199.95, ReclaiMe Pro: US $799.00

Host operating systems: Windows

Support for data recovery hardware: No

WinHex (ver. 20.1 24)

WinHex

Reviewed Version: 20.1 24

Prices: Personal: US$ 41.90 (one year) + US$32.90 (28%) for two years. Professional: US$91.90 (one year) + US$ 77.90 (28%) for two years. Specialist: US$138.90 (one year) + US$126.90 (28%) for two years. Lab: US$174.90 (one year) + US$1151.90 (28%) for two years.

Host operating systems: Windows XP/2003/Vista/2008/7/8/8.1/2012/10, 32 Bit/64 Bit*, Server 2016

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Stellar Windows Data Recovery (ver. 10.1.0.0)

Stellar Windows Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 10.1.0.0

Prices: Standard: US$ 49.99, US$ 79.00, Technician: US $ 199.00

Host operating systems: Windows, 7, 8/8.1, 10, 32 or 64-bit

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Evaluation and Test Results

Overall product ratings

Overall product ratings were based on two main criteria:

  • Interface and features – We evaluated each software package’s capabilities and created a side-by-side comparison of the most crucial professional data recovery features.
  • File recovery performance – We put the identified features to the test to determine how effectively each program can recover data in various scenarios.

Since our last review, R-Studio keeps its first place in our tests, remaining the best professional data recovery software. Taking into account that it now works directly with several data extraction hardware devices (DeepSpar Disk Imager, USB Stabilizer, RapidSpar) and with its new advanced imaging methods, this program becomes an essential part of a data recovery workstation. Recovery Explorer Professional took the second place. These two programs are considered the best data recovery software on the market.

The new program we included in our review, DiskGenius, was a great surprise for us. It showed very impressive results in data recovery for Windows file systems and deservedly took the third place in our review. If not for the lack of support of other platforms (macOS and Linux), it may have been a decent rival to the two best programs.

ReclaiMe File Recovery has dropped to the last place; mainly because it crashed during several tests and failed to deliver any results for them.

The following programs have received the most important new features:

R-Studio: A new T80+ license, which is an affordable variation of the R-Studio Technician license for small businesses. Two new disk imaging methods: multi-pass and real-time imaging for processing failing drives. Support for sector map files, both in its native and third-party formats. Files/folders from several partitions can be opened in one tab and recovered in a single recovery action.

Recovery Explorer Professional: Support for new file systems: ReFS3 and F2FS. Support for uncommon RAIDs and volume managers: Btrfs-RAID, ZFS RAID-Z, Drobo BeyondRAID, and Synology Hybrid RAID. Support for reverse RAIDs.

WinHex: Support for a new file system: BTRFS.

Stellar Windows Data Recovery: Support for new file systems: HFS+, CDFS, UDF. An area to image can be specified in sectors.

ReclaiMe File Recovery: Several new disk image formats can be opened: dsk, img, -flat.vmdk, vhd, avhd, vhdx, and avhdx. New nonstandard RAID levels: RAIDZ, RAIDZ2, HP EVA vRAID. A new logical disk manager: Apple Fusion Drive.

Interface and Features Ratings
Product Localization Support Demo version restrictions File preview Standard file recovery features Advanced file recovery features
R-Studio5.85.06.05.95.8
Recovery Explorer Professional5.55.05.04.85.2
Stellar Windows Data Recovery5.34.04.53.92.7
DiskGenius4.04.54.53.23.6
ReclaiMe File Recovery3.54.04.04.33.4
WinHex6.04.02.03.83.0
File recovery performance Ratings
Product Deleted files Emptied Recycle Bin Disk re-format Damaged partition Deleted partition RAID recovery
R-Studio5.75.85.75.96.06.0
Recovery Explorer Professional5.35.54.85.55.54.9
DiskGenius5.55.35.55.65.53.6
WinHex5.04.83.94.66.01.9
ReclaiMe File Recovery5.05.04.23.94.33.4
Stellar Windows Data Recovery4.84.84.93.96.00.6
Overall Rating
Product Rating Conclusions
R-Studio 5.8

The program that combines excellent data recovery parameters and performance. It has all features and capabilities to perform professional data recovery. A must-have for any data recovery professional.

Strengths: Work with specialized data recovery hardware: native support for DeepSpar devices (DeepSpar Disk Imager, USB Stabilizer, RapidSpar). The best performance in every file recovery case. Outstanding support for RAID and logical disk manager recovery, network data recovery, and good S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring. It has a powerful file previewer, disk imager that supports very advanced imaging methods (real-time and multi-pass algorithms), disk copy module, and built-in hexadecimal editor. In addition, excellent documentation includes online manuals and tutorials for almost all data recovery scenarios.

Weaknesses: Severe demo mode restrictions and the lack of support for less common file systems, such as XFS, ZFS, JFS, Novell NWFS/NSS, VMware VMFS, ReiserFS.

Added since our last review: A new T80+ license that makes the program affordable even to small data recovery businesses. A demo version in R-Studio Technician, including support for magnetic tape devices file systems (Ustar/Tar/CPIO/Pax) as well as multi-pass and real-time imaging for processing failing drives. Additionally, files/folders from several partitions can be opened in one tab and recovered in a single recovery action.

Recovery Explorer Professional 5.2

The other exceptional professional data recovery program that showed the second-best results in our data recovery tests and feature evaluation.

Strengths: The best set of supported file systems, the best support for standard RAID levels, and support for rather exotic volume managers: Btrfs-RAID, ZFS RAID-Z, Drobo BeyondRAID, and Synology Hybrid RAID. Excellent raw file recovery. A very good set of recovery features. Support for logical disk manager recovery and automatic RAID parameter recognition.

Weaknesses: Limited file search and preview capabilities. The program sometimes required a long disk scan when other programs didn't.

Added since our last review: Support for new file systems: ReFS3 and F2FS. Support for rather uncommon RAIDs and volume managers: Btrfs-RAID, ZFS RAID-Z, Drobo BeyondRAID, and Synology Hybrid RAID. Support for reverse RAIDs. Some new features in file search/mark/recovery parameters. A special log panel to view a recovery report.

DiskGenius 4.5

A very good data recovery program, especially for Windows file systems. It even rivals R-Studio and Recovery Explorer Professional in this field. Only the lack of support for Mac and Linux file systems and disk/logical volume managers degraded its overall data recovery score.

Strengths: A very good performance for Windows systems, especially for files deleted without Bin, reformatted disks, and deleted partitions. It also showed the best speed of SSD disk scan.

Weaknesses: The lack of support for Mac and Linux file systems. Poor interface localization. Limited file search and preview capabilities.

WinHex 4.2

A very advanced disk editor that requires very deep understanding of disk data structures. Ranked fourth in our data recovery tests and third in our feature evaluation. Nevertheless, it showed good results in data recovery from deleted partitions.

Strengths: The best localization of its user interface. The second-best set of supported file systems, and a very advanced disk editor.

Weaknesses: relatively severe demo mode limitations, the lack of a file previewer, no S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring, and no startup version.

Added since our last review: Support for a new file system: BTRFS

Stellar Windows Data Recovery 4.2

The program showed the fifth-highest results in file recovery and third-highest results in feature evaluation. Still, it showed very good results in data recovery from deleted and formatted partitions. It also has a relatively good set of file recovery features.

Strengths: S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring and creation of a startup recovery disk.

Weaknesses: A limited number of supported file systems, no logging, no automatic RAID parameter finding, no support for logical disk managers, and no hexadecimal editor,

Added since our last review: Data recovery now requires a purchased license. New file systems: HFS+, CDFS, UDF. An area to image can be specified in sectors.

ReclaiMe File Recovery 3.9

The program crashed during several tests, which is why it showed the worst score in data recovery. But when it worked, it showed a quite good performance.

Strengths: A relatively good file previewer, a very good set of supported file systems, automatic RAID parameter recognition, and good support for Windows and Linux software RAIDs.

Weaknesses: Only one interface language (English), poor file preview capabilities, no S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring, and no startup version.

Added since our last review: Several new disk image formats can be opened: dsk, img, -flat.vmdk, vhd, avhd, vhdx, and avhdx. New nonstandard RAID levels: RAIDZ, RAIDZ2, HP EVA vRAID. A new logical disk manager: Apple Fusion Drive.

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