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The Best Data Recovery Services & Software of 2019

Bybusiness.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jan 02, 2019
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The Best Data Recovery Services & Software For 2018

Data Recovery Service and Software Comparisons

No matter how conscientious you are about backing up your data, backup servers can fail and important files can be accidentally deleted. Data can also be lost due to malware, viruses or even natural disasters. When this happens, data recovery software and services may be able to help you recover your lost files.  

There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to recover your data 100 percent of the time, as it may be damaged or corrupted. But, there are different data recovery solutions to choose from, and some may give you a better shot at getting your files back, depending on the data loss scenario.  

The way data recovery software works is that when you delete a file, the data doesn’t actually vanish; you’ve only removed the directory listing. The data continues to exist on the drive as a hidden file and isn’t permanently erased until it’s overwritten with new data. Data recovery software scans the drive for these hidden files and retrieves them in their original forms, such as documents, spreadsheets, photos, videos and audio files. If the hard drive has been physically damaged, you’ll need to contact a professional data recovery service.  

We researched and evaluated the most popular data recovery software to help you find the best options. Read on to learn more about what we looked for in data recovery software and what steps you should take before you try to recover lost data. Also check out our best picks, including our recommendations for Mac and iPhone data recovery, and our reviews of other popular data recovery software. If you want even more options to choose from, scroll down to see a list of service providers.

Reviews

Below are all of our reviews for data recovery software and services.

What to Expect in 2019

Even though many small businesses now back up data to the cloud, data recovery software continues to be relevant in 2019 as some users continue to store files on hard drives and many store or transport files between computers using portable storage devices such as external drives and USB thumb drives. Accidentally formatting flash drives is fairly common, as is deleting the wrong file. Even removing the USB drive without ejecting it can cause data corruption if you don’t wait for files to finish copying or if the write cache is in use.  

Smart phones and tablets may require data recovery as well, as files can be corrupted or accidentally deleted, or simply be inaccessible if you forget your passcode or entered it incorrectly too many times. If you have the misfortune of getting locked out of your iPhone, for example, and for some reason it’s not configured to sync to iCloud, gaining access can difficult and expensive if you don’t want to lose your data. Data recovery services are available for passcode lockout, but you may be required to prove that you’re the owner of the device.   

Pricing

The price of data recovery software will depend on the extent of your recovery needs. For basic DIY software, including one license for one computer, you'll likely pay $50 to $100. There are often professional or business editions of the software that either allow you to recover more than one device or recover them through a network connection and are compatible with RAID servers. A technician edition is sometimes also available, allowing you to perform data recovery on a commercial level as a computer repair business. These licenses can exceed $1,000 for a year.

Data recovery service companies offer a more comprehensive solution to data loss that's usually beyond your own capabilities, and their prices often reflect that. Data recovery prices depend entirely on what kind of device you need recovered, how it was damaged and where you're located. Some data recovery prices are flat-rate, while other services charge based on the size of the drive you're recovering.

Many companies also allow you to request priority or emergency service for an extra fee, which means the company will ship your device to its lab overnight or, if possible, send technicians to your business.

Negotiation Tips

Many software solutions have downloadable trial versions that can scan your hard drive and determine how much is recoverable. You'll need to buy the full version to recover your data, although some allow you to recover up to a certain amount of data, such as 1GB, for free.

Similarly, many services evaluate your hard drive to see if recovery is possible before you pay a penny. Look for services that provide free evaluations. If the damage is too much and recovery is impossible, the company will ship you back your hard drive without charging you. Ask the company if it has a "no data, no cost" guarantee.

The disk platters that contain the data in your hard drive are extremely sensitive and should be worked on in a cleanroom environment. Ask the company if it uses an ISO-approved cleanroom and when its last certification was approved, which should be within the last 12 months. Safety is also a concern, so if your recovered data is being sent back to you online, make sure the company encrypts your data.

Our Methodology

When researching and evaluating the best data recovery software and services for business, we considered the following factors:

Ease of Use

Data recovery software should be intuitive. We looked closely at the interface of each data recovery program and gauged how easy it was to scan, preview, sort and recover lost data.

We graded each step of the recovery process, from installation to recovery, looking for clearly labeled scan and recovery buttons. We favor interfaces that provide clear definitions under the scanning options listed in the startup menu. While it was relatively easy to initialize a scan with most programs, the recovery process proved to be the least intuitive step for most products.

Scan and Recovery Speed

Sorting through all the data on a hard drive takes time. Some programs can scan a standard 1TB hard drive in five hours, while the slower ones can only scan 50GB per hour. The type of drive, the brand and how it's connected to your computer also impact scanning speed.

However, we didn't find a correlation between speed and the percentage of successfully recovered files: A faster or slower scanning speed does not mean that the recovery will be more successful. 

Recovery Process

We tested the recovery capabilities of each product by having it scan and recover files from a hard drive multiple times. Our testing methodology considered the two most common reasons for data loss: deletion and formatting. We filled our test hard drive with common types of files in a variety of formats: documents, images, audio and video files.

In recovering deleted data, nearly all the products we tested easily recovered most lost data, with only a few exceptions where we found some files were missing. Since this is a simple procedure, we expected most of the products to recover all the files or recover no less than 90 percent of the data. We found that this was the case, with only a few outliers that dipped as low as 70 percent. We also found that some programs were better at recovering certain file types than others.

Recovering a formatted hard drive is a more advanced issue, so we anticipated more varied results. Since formatting a drive wipes its file system and replaces it with another, recovery programs must locate the raw data in a drive. Usually, it requires applications to perform a deep scan.

Help and Support

The best data recovery software comes with exceptional support to make the process as smooth as possible. We looked at the avenues available for users to contact customer support, specifically whether each manufacturer offers a phone number and a live chat option. We also scrutinized the resources on the developers' websites, like tutorials, articles, FAQs and manuals.

 

How to Identify the Best Software

When considering a data recovery solution for a business environment, it's important to look for certain features that will help you or your IT professionals resolve these issues as they arise. Programs with a professional or enterprise edition usually come with features such as remote network access, which allows you to run data recovery on any hard drive connected to your local network. Other programs issue licenses that allow you to install the application on multiple computers.

Another common feature for business-oriented programs is compatibility with RAID (redundant array of independent disks) systems. While most data recovery software can work with RAID systems, you may want to consider a RAID recovery service, since they are complex servers and can suffer from complicated issues.

Steps to Take Before You Attempt Data Recovery

If you've experienced major data loss, there are a few things you should keep in mind before exploring your recovery software options. As soon as you realize data was deleted from a computer or server, you need to act fast. If your business uses a network, immediately restrict access to the drive where the data was located so that no further data can be uploaded and lost files are no longer at risk of being overwritten.

Once the drive is isolated, create a disk image of the drive and contain it in a separate hard drive, which can be accomplished with disk imaging software. Cloning the drive you're recovering safeguards the hard drive from further damage and allows you to attempt recovery.

From there, you can conduct an initial scan to find recoverable files using your chosen data recovery software. Don't be dismayed if the file you're looking for isn't found. During testing, we found that not every scan was consistent and that we sometimes got different files if we scanned the hard drive again. You can scan a hard drive as many times as you need until you get your desired results, as long as you don't write more data onto it.

Remember, it is possible that there are some files that cannot be recovered. When attempting a recovery on an advanced problem, such as a formatted disk, you will usually get files back with different names, formats and sometimes duplicates. Certain files may come back damaged or without content.

State of the Industry

There are many potential causes of data loss, including human error, hardware/system failure, natural disasters, and viruses, malware and ransomware. While you can't stop these forces from wiping out your data, you can make it easier to get back up and running by making data recovery software part of your disaster recovery plan.

Data recovery is split between DIY software and professional services. Most software solutions are for what's called logical recovery, which saves data lost due to accidental deletion or a reformatted drive. Professional services can handle logical recovery, but their specialty is physical recovery. This is necessary if the physical storage device becomes damaged and can no longer be read by your computer. Fires, flooding and other disasters can nearly destroy the disk, but the data can still be recovered through professional means. Services often operate on damaged disks in a cleanroom environment and use various techniques to retrieve as much data as possible.

It should be noted that with logical recovery, it's easier to recover data from a hard drive disk (HDD) than a solid-state drive (SSD). Depending on the drive, data from an SSD is deleted permanently when files are deleted. Data from these drives can still be recovered after physical damage.

Common Data Recovery Service and Software Questions & Answers

Have a data recovery service or software question of your own?
Ask an Expert

Cloud vs. own storage?

22 responses
22
Responses
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Speaking as a guy who spent a decade in the hosting industry, unless security and privacy are core services you provide that your customers pay you for, I would wholeheartedly recommend the cloud. Maintaining your own infrastructure, fighting the daily fights against intrusions and DDoS attacks, upgrade and version control management, not to mention recruiting and staffing and overhead costs - all these are expensive and complicated. Significant ROI needs to exist to justify taking them...

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My database tracks client interactions back to 1994--almost the beginning of my business. (This has nothing to do with tax records.) Every once in a while somebody I haven't talked with for years will contact me. They are very impressed when I can quickly check my DB and say, "Oh yeah, we talked back in 2002 about your management issues. How has your business grown since then?" Why would any business ever get rid of such customer records? I've never had anybody threaten to subpoena my old...

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A mix of physical (onsite) and offsite, as well as cloud (if privacy / security can be guaranteed) - is a solid strategy. Have a look at www.code42.com/crashplan/ as a starting point.

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Google Drive itself is utilized as a backup. It is cloudbased, if you are loosing data it is in the use of google tools not kept on or working in symbiosis with google drive. Google Keep for example and Google DOCS are not kept on Google Drive. but installing extensions which function is the transfer of files images and information into google drive. Effective Secure Time Tested Proven Methods available to all and at no cost.

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Anonymous User
answered

Hi Jess There is a remote chance you could recover but a lot depends on how the disk was formatted or reformatted, plus how lucky you are. In general, I would say forget it and you have no hope but years ago I managed to recover my files on Windows XP after the system crashed and we had to reinstall Windows hence overwriting all files (so we thought!). By pure luck I noticed my anti-virus checking files in a directory I had never seen before C:../found/... I had never noticed this folder...

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List of the The Best Data Recovery Services & Software of 2019