External drive recovery software comparison

Recovering data from external drives has a number of specifics. Unlike other storage devices, external disks consist of three components both physical and logical – the disk enclosure, the disk itself, and the filesystem on the disk, which is responsible for how the data is stored on the disk. In case of an enclosure failure, special data recovery software is not required - just replace the broken one with a new one (watch videos at this site on how to disassemble an external hard drive). In case of mechanically damaged disks, data recovery software is generally not required as well, since it is a job for a special service with its "clean rooms" and technicians with skills in reparing mechanically damaged disks. But cases involving filesystem failures like accidental deletion of important data or formatting a drive by mistake are just job for data recovery software.

Testbed

For my comparison I took a 1 TB Transcend drive that has already stored 800 GB of data and created a new folder to which 12 jpeg files were copied. Then I deleted the folder and started testing different recovery tools. According to the result of my research I can highlight IСare software as the worst tool since it constantly crashed. Besides, its interface is not user-friendly at all and I could not even see any recovered files there. The detailed test results are shown in the table below.


Parameter EaseUSA GetDataBackB ReclaiMeC ICare RecoveryD R-StudioE Stellar PhoenixF RecuvaG Disk DrillH ZARI
User experience and price
Price 69.95 USD 79 USD 79.95 USD 69.95 USD 79.99 USD 99 USD Free 89 USD 69.95 USD
Ease of use Easy Moderate Easy Complex Complex Easy Moderate Easy Moderate
Refund Conditional No Unconditional Conditional No Conditional - No Unconditional
Lifetime updates Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes No Yes
Recovery speed Fast Fast Fast Slow Slow Fast Slow Average Slow
User manual Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Supported filesystems
FAT Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NTFS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
exFAT Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
ReFS No No Yes No Yes No No No No
Files and preview
Structured folder tree Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No Yes
Original file name Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No Yes
Search Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
File preview Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hex preview No Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No No
Preview during scan No No Yes No No No No No No
Save state No No No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
A EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard version 11.8.0, www.easeus.com
B GetDataBack Simple version 3.13, www.runtime.org
C ReclaiMe File Recovery Standard build 2715, www.reclaime.com
D ICare Recovery version 7.9.1 (1964), www.recovermyfiles.com
E R-Tools Technology R-Studio version 8.3.169775, www.r-tt.com
F Stellar Phoenix version 7.0.0.3, www.stellarinfo.com
G Recuva version 1.53.1087 64-bit, www.piriform.com
H Disk Drill build 2.0.300, www.cleverfiles.com
I ZAR X, www.z-a-recovery.com

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