Skip to main content

Best free data recovery software 2022

it technician fixing a pc laptop
(Image credit: Getty)

The best free data recovery software (opens in new tab) is designed to help you find and restore lost files on your computer or mobile device (opens in new tab). There are a few ways that you can lose files, including through accidental deletion and device malfunction. But all can be equally devastating. 

With data recovery software, it’s often possible to find deleted files, even if they’ve been wiped completely from your device. There are loads of premium options on the market, but there are also a few neat free programs that are almost as powerful. 

We’ve reviewed many data recovery programs over the years and have put together the following list of the best free options to aid your search.

What is the best free data recovery software?

The best overall free data recovery program is Recuva (opens in new tab), which offers advanced solutions for Windows users. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (opens in new tab)’s free version is great for non-techies, although it has a 2GB recovery limit.

Both TestDisk/PhotoRec (opens in new tab) and DMDE Free (opens in new tab) are excellent options for technical users, and both have an excellent success rate. Stellar Data Recovery (opens in new tab) is another option worth considering if you’re looking for a simple, no-frills program.

Best free data recovery compared
Operating SystemsExternal Drive SupportPremium Version
RecuvaWindowsYesYes ($19.95 license)
EaseUS Data Recovery WizardWindows, MacYesYes ($149.95 license)
TestDisk and PhotoRec file recoveryWindows, Mac, LinuxYesNo
Stellar Data RecoveryWindows, MacYesYes (From $99 license)
DMDE FreeWindows, Mac, LinuxYesYes (From $20 license)

The best free data recovery software available right now

recuva logo

(Image credit: Piriform / Future)
(opens in new tab)

Recuva

Best overall free data recovery software

Specifications

Operating systems: Windows
External drive support: Yes
Premium version: Yes ($19.95 license)

Reasons to buy

+
Very fast and effective
+
Has little draw on your system resources
+
Works with external drives

Reasons to avoid

-
Advanced scans are time-consuming
-
The user interface could be better

Recuva (opens in new tab) is a popular data recovery program that’s completely free for personal use. You will need a premium license to use it for commercial purposes, but these are quite affordable. 

Although Recuva is only available for Windows devices, its external drive support stands out as excellent. It enables you to recover files and information from external storage devices such as memory cards, USB sticks, external hard drives, and more. 

Another standout feature is Recuva’s performance. It will place little strain on your computer’s resources, enabling you to run it effectively in the background. Its basic scan takes no more than a few minutes to run, and it tends to be very effective. There’s also an advanced scan option, which takes time but is very effective at finding and restoring difficult files.

easeus logo

(opens in new tab)

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Best for beginners

Specifications

Operating systems: Windows, Mac
External drive support: Yes
Premium version: Yes ($149.95 license)

Reasons to buy

+
Super easy to use
+
Available on Windows and Mac
+
2GB of restored data for free

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium version is expensive
-
No mobile support

If you only have a small amount of data to restore, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (opens in new tab) could be the perfect option. Its free version supports the restoration of up to 2GB of data, which will be more than enough for many users. However, the premium version is quite expensive. 

One thing that stands out about EaseUS is how easy it is to use. The user interface is intuitive yet packed with excellent tools, and you don’t need any tech skills to run advanced data recovery scans. 

On the downside, EaseUS can be quite slow. Even basic scans can take upwards of 10 minutes, and advanced scans are much slower. We also had a little trouble with EaseUS not recovering some files that other programs did, but there was only a small number of these. 

If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use data recovery program to restore a small number of files or a small amount of data, EaseUS Data Recovery is worth considering.

testdisk photorec logo

(Image credit: CGSecurity / Future)
(opens in new tab)

TestDisk and PhotoRec file recovery

Best open-source file recovery program

Specifications

Operating systems: Windows, Linux, Mac
External drive support: Yes
Premium version: No

Reasons to buy

+
Compatible with numerous operating systems
+
Free and open-source
+
Great memory card recovery features

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires command-line knowledge
-
No graphical user interface

TestDisk (opens in new tab) and PhotoRec (opens in new tab) are two open-source programs that are designed to be used together as a highly efficient data recovery tool. All features are available for free, even for commercial use, and Windows, Linux, and Mac versions are available. 

On the downside, TestDisk and PhotoRec require some experience with the command line to use them effectively. There’s no graphical user interface, which makes it a poor option for beginners and others with minimal tech experience. 

But the TestDisk and PhotoRec combination can be used to recover virtually any file type. External storage devices are supported, and the program is able to discover virtually all file types (over 440 recorded).

stellar logo

Best no-frills data recovery

Specifications

Operating systems: Windows, Mac
External drive support: Yes
Premium version: Yes (From $99 license)

Reasons to buy

+
Advanced tools for knowledgeable users
+
Fast, efficient scans for beginners
+
Effective free forever version

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium is expensive
-
Deep scans can be slow

Stellar Data Recovery (opens in new tab) has a basic but effective free forever plan. It’s available on both Mac and Windows devices, and both options offer up to 1GB of file recovery without a premium license. What’s more, it can be used to recover lost objects from virtually any external storage device, including hard drives, memory cards, USB sticks, and more. 

Virtually any type of file can be recovered with Stellar Data Recovery. You can even add custom extensions to the program’s database if required. The free version also comes with unbootable system recovery tools, as well as the ability to recover optical media such as CDs and DVDs. 

If 1GB of file recovery is enough, we’d suggest going for Stellar Data Recovery. But if not, consider looking elsewhere, or you will have to pay for a premium license. 

Read our full Stellar Data Recovery review (opens in new tab).

DMDE free logo

(Image credit: DMDE / Future)

DMDE Free

Best for advanced users

Specifications

Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux
External drive support: Yes
Premium version: Yes (From $20 license)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent success rate
+
Portable app
+
Loads of advanced tools

Reasons to avoid

-
Confusing user interface
-
Poor documentation

DMDE Free (opens in new tab) is a popular data recovery program that supports advanced searches and has an excellent success rate. As the free version of a premium program, it does lack some advanced features, but it’s still an excellent option. 

However, it can be quite confusing to use, which means that it’s best for more technical users. It’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux devices. The app is fully portable, which means that it can be saved to and run from a USB drive.

Frequently asked questions about free data recovery software

Find out more about free data recovery software by checking out our list of FAQs.

How successful is data recovery?

While nothing is guaranteed when it comes to data recovery, most free programs are very effective. You shouldn’t have any trouble restoring common file types, although more advanced recovery may require specialized solutions.

How can I recover my data for free?

To recover accidentally deleted or lost files for free, you can use one of the best free data recovery programs. Software like Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery, and Stellar Data Recovery are all highly effective and easy to use.

Can wiped data be recovered?

Yes, wiped data can usually be recovered. Deleted data isn’t erased instantly. Instead, an “image” of it remains until it’s overwritten by a new file. With a data recovery program, you should be able to find your lost files with minimal effort.

The benefits of free data recovery software

It's fast
Before the invention of consumer-level data recovery programs, you would have had to take your device to a professional to restore lost files. With modern free data recovery software, you should be able to do it yourself in no more than an hour.

It's reliable
If you only need to restore simple photo, video, or document files, most free data recovery programs will do an extremely good job. A premium license may be required for more complicated file types, but this will only be necessary in rare cases.

It can save you a lot of time and money
Let’s look at a very simple use-case for data recovery programs. Let’s say that you’ve just finished putting together a major report for work. But your computer crashes before you have a chance to save it. Rather than starting from scratch and spending hours rewriting it, you can simply find and restore it.

How we review free data recovery software

We’ve reviewed numerous data recovery programs, and we follow a stringent process with every single one. We begin by gathering information from the company website and help center, noting things like standout features, customer service, and prices. 

Next, we download the program on the desired test devices. We run through its full functionality, paying particular attention to whether or not it performs as well as claimed. The user interface is also tested to ensure it’s beginner friendly and fully functional.

Next steps

To find out more about the premium options on the market, you might like to delve into our list of the best data recovery programs (opens in new tab). Our guide to data recovery from virtual machines (opens in new tab) could be interesting. Or, find out about the best password recovery tools (opens in new tab) in our complete guide.

Daniel is a freelance copywriter with over six years experience writing for publications such as TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Hosting Review. He specializes in tech and finance, with a particular focus on website building, web hosting, and related fields. 

With contributions from