What to Look For in File Recovery Apps

The market is flooded with a variety of useful apps to help you recover lost files. Some apps focus on particular filetypes, but most of them are catch-all programs that fulfill many functions. However, it can get a little overwhelming deciding which app will be best for you, so here are some qualities to consider.


Different apps have scan features with different levels of comprehensiveness. Some apps are less thorough for the sake of ease or time-efficiency. More thorough apps may take longer to scan, but are better at finding files that weren’t easily retrievable in the first place. The safest option is to err on the side of thoroughness. Prosoft Data Rescue 3 is an app with a unique scan feature that will search for structural damage and create a clone of the affected disc. This is handy because you can recover files from the clone without worrying about overwriting or altering files on the original disc.

File Types and Operating Systems

Different apps support different file systems. While the apps are often flexible, its best to pick one that’s native to your operating system. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac is an app that’s native to OS X. EaseUS works on all of the most commonly used file types including images, music, video and text documents. The app is also easily compatible with USB flash drives and external hard drives so that backing up recovered data is a cinch.


Systems are always changing and as a result, your recovery software must change with them. Some software is comprehensive and reliable, but the manufacturer has stopped creating patches and updates. In the short term this may not be a big deal, but after awhile, your app will become more and more out of date and so more and more incompatible with your devices. Alsoft DiskWarrior 4.4 is a great app that functions well and is consistently updated. Purchasing the app also gives you access to troubleshooting and technical support over the phone. This is a great option if you’re someone who relies on your device, but is either busy or uninterested in puzzling through tricky scenarios.

Function and Demographics

An important factor to consider when choosing data recovery apps is what you’ll most likely need it for and for whom the app was developed. Some software is extremely complex and designed for forensic recovery experts. If you’re a layperson, you definitely don’t want to buy this as it will be confusing and ultimately difficult for you to take advantage of. Similarly, there are open source apps that are extremely versatile across many platforms, but not as intuitive as an app native to a particular operating system. Determining what works for you will depend on how comfortable you are with data recovery and the frequency with which you need to recover lost data.

Don’t Expect The World

While there are some really powerful apps out there, there are certain situations that may simply be too difficult to tackle from home. Don’t search for the perfect app that will universally handle all situations because that doesn’t exist. If your device has been physically damaged or experiences a hardware malfunction, a recovery app may not even run. In these cases you’ll have to go to a forensic or mechanical data recovery expert. Bear this in mind when picking the app that’s right for you!

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