If you’re anything like me, your computer gets cluttered pretty quickly. Even the most mundane office jobs require downloading and creating so many files on your hard drive. With so much clutter, it’s common practice to format your personal computer. It’s tricky, though, because one wrong click might accidentally delete all your files. If you’ve done this before, you know the gut-wrenching hopelessness of losing all that data. You better hope that you have it backed up on the best external hard drive.
However, this isn’t necessarily the end. There is a way to recover your files you’ve accidentally deleted. How? Through the best free data recovery software available.
20 Best Free Data Recovery Software
Yes, that’s right: free data recovery software offers salvation in accidental file deletion. In this article, we’ll run through 20 of the best data recovery software that caters to your needs. Check them out below.
1. ADRC Data Recovery Tools
The first free recovery software on our list is ADRC Data Recovery Tools. It’s fairly simple to use even for the non-tech-savvy users although it does look a bit dated.
One of the benefits of this program is its portability. You can just carry it around in a USB to recover files from any computer. It also has a small file size so it shouldn’t take up too much space on your USB, either.
When it comes to limitations, this tool can recover files only from non-CD/DVD storage devices. These include memory cards, USBs, and hard drives. It also only works on older operating systems like Windows XP, Vista, 2000, 95, and 7.
2. Disk Drill
Disk Drill is more than just your average data recovery software. It’s jam-packed with many features which makes it very usable.
Apart from recovering files, you can recover partitions and even backup drives. It also has many handy features while you restore deleted files. These include pausing and resuming scans, filtering, file organization, running quick scans, and saving the results. You can even preview files before recovering them.
Additionally, you can recover deleted files from internal and external drives, memory cards, USBs, and even iPods. However, it has a 500MB recovery limit. It works with Windows 7 or later and macOS 10.8.5 or later.
3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
Sometimes, free data recovery software can be tricky to handle. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard isn’t, though. It’s got a familiar, Windows Explorer-like layout that’s easy to use. There’s also no questions about EaseUS’s security since it’s pretty safe software.
You can preview and recover files from almost any storage device that Windows recognizes with this program, whether it be hard drives, optical drives, iOS devices, memory cards, or cameras. It can also recover partitions and save scans.
There is a limit to the free version, though. It’s 500MB of recovery but you can bump it up to 2GB if you share the program through social media. This program is compatible with macOS 10.15-10.9 and Windows XP to 10. It can also do Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2012.
If you want no-headache free data recovery software, check out FreeUndelete. Like many others, it can undelete files from almost any storage device. It can even undelete entire folders at a time instead of single files, although that option still exists. Plus, you won’t have to waste any time recovering unrecoverable files since the program informs you if they can be successfully recovered beforehand. FreeUndelete also has a portable version if you want to take it on the go.
This program works only on Windows and is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10. Moreover, the free version is available only for personal use. For commercial settings, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
5. Glary Undelete
If organizing drives you mad, you should consider the free data recovery software called Glary Undelete. It has an file explorer feature for easy access. View folders and recoverable files with their recoverability status right there in the window.
Glary Undelete can recover files from internal or external storage drives. These include memory cards, USBs, and many other storage devices. However, it’s not portable so you have to install it on your computer. Keep an eye out for any additional software being added during installation. Otherwise, it’s a reliable program available on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10.
6. iBoysoft Data Recovery Free
All some people want is a simple, free data recovery software that does the job quickly. If that’s you, consider getting iBoysoft Data Recovery Free. It’s fairly simple with a regular explorer-style interface. It has a more modern, minimal design that is easy to use. You can either do a quick or deep scan through your folders then save results for later access. There’s also a short tutorial on how to restore files if you’re unfamiliar.
This program is somewhat limited, however, with a 1GB limit on file restoration. You can also only preview files if they’re under 5MB in size. There’s also no way to see if a file is recoverable before you start the process. If you don’t mind the limits, it’s a reliable program available on Windows 10 and older and macOS 10.7 and up.
7. iCare Data Recovery Free
Different free data recovery software can do different things. With iCare, you can recover almost any file type. It supports hundreds of types so you won’t have to worry about not recovering some files. There’s also an option for a deep versus quick scan. The first can locate a larger quantity of files while the latter is focused on quickly providing the results.
iCare can also preview texts and photos before you recover them. That means you can recover deleted photos and files without any mistake because you can identify the files more easily. It’s also a portable program as a bonus. The only difficulties are that you can’t pause scans and it can’t scan external drives. Otherwise, it’s a good tool available on Windows.
8. MiniTool Power Data Recovery
One of the best free data recovery software on this list is MiniTool Power Data Recovery. It can scan both internal and external drives, save scan results, and recover entire folders at a time. Scans are also quick and pausable unlike many of its alternatives. Plus, it has a modern interface so it should be pleasing to the eyes.
MiniTool’s weakness is that it’s not portable and it has a recovery limit. You can only recover up to 1GB for free. If that’s something you can live with, it’s compatible with Windows 10 and older (up to Windows 95). It’s also available on Windows Server 2003 and 2008.
9. Orion File Recovery Software
Another free data recovery software is Orion File Recovery Software. It’s similar to others in that it can run scans for deleted files. However, it does have a handy file type filter so you can run faster scans. It can scan internal and external drives and inform you of a file’s recoverability potential.
Apart from salvaging deleted files, Orion can also permanently delete files. Be warned that this will render those files unrecoverable moving forward. Another thing to look out for is that the program will try to install unnecessary software. You can reject that, of course. If it suits your tastes, Orion is available on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10.
10. PC Inspector File Recovery
Some files hide within the depths of computers, and you’ll need to run a deep scan to get to those files. Fortunately, one of the free data recovery software on our list is PC Inspector File Recovery. It’s potentially one of the best software on our list for running deep scans.
Apart from this, PC Inspector can scan almost any storage drive, internal or external. It can also recover files other programs cannot. However, PC Inspector takes a long time to scan and is unfriendly user interface-wise. It’s available on Windows XP, NT, ME, 2000, 98, and 8.
Dozens of free data recovery software aren’t completely free, with additional features hiding behind paywalls. With opensource software like PhotoRec, this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you can get past its total lack of UI (PhotoRec uses command-line software), it isn’t so bad. However, if you really can’t tolerate it, there’s also QPhotoRec which is the same software with a more usable UI.
PhotoRec is a companion program to TestDisk, a program that specializes in partition repair and recovery. We’ll talk about TestDisk later, but PhotoRec is the one that mainly handles file recovery. PhotoRec has over 300 file families under its radar so recovery should be more possible compared to alternative software. It’s especially good at recovering files from digital cameras if that’s your main concern. It can also recover files from a host of different storage devices. Plus, it works on Mac, Windows, and even Linux.
12. Puran File Recovery
One of the more thorough free data recovery software on this list is Puran File Recovery. It can scan any Windows-recognized drive and recover its files. You can also see whether a file is recoverable before you start the process. Puran even supports file systems others don’t, such as FAT32/16/12 and NTFS.
Apart from these, Puran can also recover partitions you’ve lost. However, they shouldn’t have already been overwritten or it’s a lost cause. Puran’s also a portable program with 32- and 64-bit versions. It’s compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10 and is free for personal use.
There are lots of free data recovery software around, but few can come close to the title of “best”. Recuva is one such software that can be arguably called the best data recovery software around. It’s got a nice interface, is easy-to-use, has an in-house wizard, and has many useful features.
Recuva can recover files from many drives: internal, external, memory cards, CD/DVD/BD discs, and even an iPod. It can also preview and recover data in different file formats without any size limit. If you want to permanently delete data, you can also do so with Recuva.
It’s compatible with almost any version of Windows. This includes Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows 2000, NT, ME, 98, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. It’s portable and has 32- and 64-bit versions.
Free data recovery software can seem complicated sometimes. If you want a straightforward solution, try out Restoration. It’s simple and easy to use without any complex processes. It can recover from internal and external drives depending on what you need. Plus, it’s portable and small in file size.
Restoration also allows for searching empty files, which isn’t always the case with data recovery software. It can also overwrite deleted files should you choose to do so. However, there are a few compromises such as only being able to recover files, not folders. It also doesn’t show you a file’s recoverability potential. If that’s bearable for you, Restoration is available on Windows 2000, NT, ME, 95, 98, XP, Vista, and 7.
15. SoftPerfect File Recovery
Another free data recovery software is SoftPerfect File Recovery. It’s easy to use with searching for both the file names and file extensions. You can recover more than one file at a time so recovery is quick and smooth. It can’t recover files on CD/DVD drives, though.
SoftPerfect is also a very small and portable program. However, it only supports two file systems. Although they are the two most widely used, keep it in mind in case you run into issues. You also can’t preview image files or see recovery potential.
SoftPerfect is 500KB and can run on different Windows versions. These include Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and Server 2003 and 2008. It also has 64-bit Windows support.
16. Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition
One of the easiest to use free data recovery software is Stellar Data Recovery. It has a wizard that guides you on the data recovery process for non-techie users. Apart from this, Stellar’s differentiating factor lies in its preview feature. While other programs also allow for previews, Stellar lets you do real-time previews for faster sorting of files you want to recover. You can also save your scan and review the list even while the scan is unfinished.
Stellar’s weakness is that it limits you to recover only 1GB of files. Additionally, each file must be under 25 MB to be eligible for recovery. If a file is over 25 MB, there are additional payments. Lastly, restored files can only be saved on a separate hard drive. If these are okay with you, Stellar is available to download on Windows.
TestDisk is PhotoRec’s main program that specializes on the restoration of partitions. Like PhotoRec, it’s a command-line software so it can be confusing to use at first. However, it is opensource so it’s totally free.
Once you get used to it, the recovery process is actually fairly simple. You can check out TestDisk’s guide to help you every step of the way. Apart from partition recovery, it’s also made to make non-booting disks bootable. It’s also a cross-platform software so it should come in handy for most people.
18. Undelete 360
One reliable, totally free data recovery software is Undelete 360. At first glance, it’ll remind you of the familiar Microsoft Office back in the 2010s. It isn’t part of Microsoft Office, though; it is just inspired by it.
Undelete 360 recovers many common file formats from internal and external drives to even digital cameras. This tool is also convenient since it allows for previews before files are recovered. It’s got pretty far reach, too. Even if the files were deleted via command cut or were too large for the recycle bin, Undelete 360 can restore them. However, Undelete 360 doesn’t have technical support so you’re left to figure things out on your own. Still, it’s a good option since it’s totally free without any kind of restriction.
19. UndeleteMyFiles Pro
You might be fooled into thinking that UndeleteMyFiles Pro is not a totally free data recovery software. However, it truly is a free and good data recovery option that goes by a deceptive name.
With UndeleteMyFiles Pro, you can view files in either tree view or detailed view. You can also search by filtering their size, attribute, type, and location. One distinguishing feature of UndeleteMyFiles Pro is its Emergency Disk Image. This takes a shot of your whole device then puts all of your data into one file. That makes things easier for you to find deleted data later in case something gets overwritten. You’re also granted the ability to permanently delete files.
There is a downside to this program, though: it doesn’t tell you any recovery potential so you might waste your time. If you’re still up for it, UndeleteMyFiles Pro is available on Windows XP, 8, and 10.
20. Wise Data Recovery
It’s certainly wise to use free data recovery software, and Wise Data Recovery makes that clear. If you’ve lost precious files, this software can recover them with a quick or full scan. Scan various drives and use the instant search to quickly find files you’ve deleted.
You can also bring Wise Data Recovery with you on a portable USB for easy scans on other devices. The main downside is that there’s no file preview before you can recover files. If you’re alright with that, it works on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10.
Losing your files isn’t the end of the world because technology amazingly allows for data recovery. There are many free data recovery software options to choose from. While they’re not all perfect, they can certainly ease your mind the next time you accidentally delete your files. Best of all? You won’t even have to spend a dime with all of the free software available.