Data Recovery Digest

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

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The Best Pro Data Recovery Software - Review 2020

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.

  • 2020
  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014

Professional Data Recovery Software Tested and Evaluated in 2020

For the 2020 update of our professional data recovery software comparison, we have added a new test: data recovery from an Apple’s APFS Fusions drive. We keep the rest of the scope of our tests the same as for the tests of 2019.

We removed two programs, Active@ File Recovery Ultimate and Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Technician, for their quite poor performance shown in our 2019 tests.

We added two new programs to our tests:

GetDataBack+RAID Reconstructor (ver. 5.50)

GetDataBack+RAID Reconstructor

Reviewed Version: 5.50

Prices: GetDataBack Pro : US $79.00, RAID Reconstructor: US $99.00

Host operating systems: Host operating systems: Windows Server 2008/2012, Windows Vista, 7, 8/8.1, 10, 32 or 64-bit

Support for data recovery hardware: No

This is a completely redesigned and re-written version of old well-esteemed GetDataBack we reviewed in 2014 and 2015. It will be interesting to evaluate this new version.

WinHex (ver. 19.9)

WinHex

Reviewed Version: 19.9

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

Support for data recovery hardware: No

This is another advanced hexadecimal editor like DMDE, but even more sophisticated. It’s widely used for data analysis for forensic and recovery tasks, and surely worth looking at.

We continue to test and evaluate the programs which were included in our 2019 review:

Recovery Explorer RAID (ver. 7.16)

Recovery Explorer RAID

Reviewed Version: 7.16

Prices: Professional Recovery: Personal: US $85.50, Corporate (up to 10 company's computers): US $319.95, Commercial US $179.95

Host operating systems: 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. 8.11 build 175357)

R-Studio

Reviewed Version: 8.11 build 175357

Prices: Local recovery: US $79.99 Network recovery: US $179.99 Technician License: US $899.00

Host operating systems: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 and Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012 (32/64 bit). Technician license includes versions for Mac OS X and Linux with the same functionality.

Support for data recovery hardware: DeepSpar Disk Imager™ (http://ww.deepspar.com/products-ds-disk-imager.html) (Technician license only)

DMDE  (ver. 3.6.0)

DMDE

Reviewed Version: 3.6.0

Prices: Express (1 year): US $20, Standard: US $48, Professional: US $95.00 (Additional features)

Host operating systems: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, Windows 8, 10 (32/64 bit). DOS and Linux command line versions are available

Support for data recovery hardware: No

ReclaiMe File Recovery (ver. 4345)

ReclaiMe File Recovery

Reviewed Version: 4345

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

Host operating systems: Windows

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, all old programs keep their positions: R-Studio keeps the leading position as the best professional data recovery software, while Recovery Explorer RAID is second, ReclaiMe File Recovery is third, DMDE is fourth.

The new programs in our review, GetDataBack and WinHex, didn’t look very impressive.

The new GetDataBack has now support for new file systems: exFAT, HFS+, APFS, and ext fs, which is good. Nevertheless, it showed only the second-to-last (fifth) results in its feature set and the last (sixth) results in data recovery, although it showed the best results in data recovery from deleted partitions. Furthermore, it uses a very old program RAID Reconstructor to work with RAIDs. The program cannot create virtual RAIDs, it can only produce an image of the RAID which has to be stored somewhere, which may be a big problem for large size RAIDs. Besides, although RAID Reconstructor is quite good in finding parameters for traditional RAID levels, like 0, 5, and 6, it has no abilities to work with various logical disk managers.

WinHex showed the last (sixth) results in its feature set, despite its support for very many file systems, and the second-to-last (fifth) results in file recovery, although it achieved the second best results in data recovery from deleted partitions. In addition, its interface is suited for data editing rather than for recovery. But there’s one important thing to understand. WinHex is not bad as a program itself. It’s a very powerful hexadecimal editor designed for analyzing and editing data on disks, with some features specially intended for data recovery. Moreover, it’s possible to use WinHex to perform manually many data recovery tasks which specialized data recovery software performs automatically. However that requires much deeper knowledge on data storage on disks, file system peculiarities, and so on, than necessary to work with special-purpose data recovery software.

Two programs have received the most important new features. R-Studio has got support for APFS Fusion Drive volumes. Its Technician version can now show extended file information in the File properties tab and recovery lists, and use additional storage paths to save recovered files, images, and other files to when the initial space comes to an end. Again, R-Studio is the most feature-reach program in our tests.

Recovery Explorer RAID now supports APFS Fusion Drive volumes, several new file systems, and several third-party image formats. Another interesting feature is the ability to use presets for various RAID controllers.

ReclaiMe file recovery Ultimate has now an improved file previewer and a more flexible scan procedure.

Interface and Features Ratings
Product Localization Support Demo version restrictions File preview Standard file recovery features Advanced file recovery features
R-Studio6.03.56.05.95.8
Recovery Explorer RAID5.03.53.54.84.0
DMDE 6.05.50.04.84.4
ReclaiMe File Recovery3.55.04.04.33.5
GetDataBack+RAID Reconstructor3.53.53.03.42.1
WinHex4.52.52.03.82.6
File recovery performance Ratings
Product Deleted files Emptied Recycle Bin Disk re-format Damaged partition Deleted partition RAID recovery
R-Studio5.76.05.45.95.56.0
Recovery Explorer RAID5.34.84.95.65.53.1
ReclaiMe File Recovery4.85.04.55.85.03.6
DMDE 4.84.55.35.66.01.6
WinHex4.55.34.24.25.81.8
GetDataBack+RAID Reconstructor3.75.35.04.85.90.9
Overall Rating
Product Rating Conclusions
R-Studio 5.6

The program that was constantly showing the best results, both in data recovery tests and in features necessary for performing professional data recovery. A must-have for any data recovery professional.

Strengths: High scores for almost all file recovery cases. An outstanding support for RAID and logical disk manager recovery, excellent localization support, network data recovery, a powerful file preview, disk copy module, good S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring, and built-in hexadecimal editor. In addition, excellent documentation including online manuals and tutorials for almost all data recovery scenarios.

Weaknesses: Too severe demo mode restrictions, no support for less common file systems, such as XFS, ZFS, JFS, Novell NWFS/NSS, VMware VMFS, ReiserFS.

Added since our last review: Support for APFS Fusion Drive volumes. A special tab to show file properties. Technician version: additional storage paths to save recovered files, images, and other files to when the initial space comes to an end.

ReclaiMe File Recovery 4.5

A very good data recovery program with good combination of file recovery features and performance, both ranked third. One of the best sets of supported file systems. A quite good file recovery performance.

Strengths: 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 support for WSS and Apple logical managers, and no S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring.

Added since our last review: An improved file previewer and a more flexible scan procedure.

Recovery Explorer RAID 4.5

A very decent professional data recovery program that showed the second results in our data recovery tests and third ones in the feature evaluation.

Strengths: One of the best sets of supported file systems. Excellent raw file recovery. Support for logical disk manager recovery and automatic RAID parameter recognition.

Weaknesses: Limited file search and preview capabilities and no S.M.A.R.T. attribute monitoring.

Added since our last review: New interface languages, presets for various RAID controllers, support for APFS Fusion Drive volumes, several third-party image formats, several new file systems.

DMDE 4.4

A highly advanced hexadecimal editor tailored for data recovery for Windows and Linux file systems. Overall, it showed the forth results both in our data recovery tests and feature estimations. Requires a very deep knowledge of disk and file system structures.

Strengths: Very advanced disk and file editing capabilities. Good localization support. No demo mode limitations, except group file recovery. Very attractive pricing. Very good imaging capabilities. Good S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring.

Weaknesses: Poor support for logical disk managers and no file previewer in the program.

GetDataBack+RAID Reconstructor 3.8

The program showed the sixth (the last) results in file recovery and fifth results in feature evaluation. Still, it showed the best results in data recovery from deleted partitions.

Strengths: Good processing of the exFAT file system and automatic RAID parameter recognition.

Weaknesses: Only one interface language (English), no raw file recovery, very limited demo evaluation mode, no support for logical disk managers, no user-defined RAID layouts, and no S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring.

Added since our last review: Support for exFAT, EXT, HFS+, and APFS file systems.

WinHex 3.7

A very advanced disk editor, even more sophisticated than DMDE. Requires very deep understanding of disk data structures. Ranked fifth in our data recovery tests and sixth in our feature evaluation. Nevertheless, it showed the second best results in data recovery from deleted partitions.

Strength: The best set of supported file systems, excellent disk imaging capabilities, good data recovery from Linux MD RAIDs and LVM2 volumes.

Weakness: No support for many logical disk managers such as Windows Storage Spaces or Apple logical manager, a poor file previewer, no automatic RAID parameter recognition, and no S.M.A.R.T attribute monitoring.

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