If you’ve lost pictures, music, documents, or other important files because of accidental deletion, you may be in luck. Many companies offer data recovery software for Mac OS X that is capable of examining your hard drive and recovering files you thought were gone for good. Data recovery software for Macs works in much the same way as data recovery software for other operating systems. When you click Delete, your operating system simply marks the space as free. The reference to the data is erased, but the data itself remains. As long as new information isn’t written over the old data—this is why it is important to use data recovery software as soon as possible after an accidental deletion—data recovery software is typically able to locate and restore files marked as deleted.
By surveying reviews on sites such as Macworld, Mac|Life, CNET, MacWorld UK, ExpertReviews.co.uk, MacNation.org, and MacUpdate, we’ve created this list of the top rated data recovery software for Macs:
Data Rescue 3 ($85)
- Excellent results
- Slick interface
- Will not recover original file names
Top Review Sources:
- Macworld: 4.0/5.0 “Data Rescue 3 is a program that every Mac user should at least know about, if not own outright”
- Mac|Life: 4.0/5.0 “We easily recovered deleted files, and were even able to recover the contents of files that we deliberately made unreadable”
- CNET: 4.5/5.0 “Friendly interface, good documentation, and impressive recovery capabilities”
Prosoft’s Data Rescue 3 offers a slick interface and effective data restoration. For an immediate idea of the type of problems you are facing, Data Rescue 3 is able to perform a quick diagnostic test. But for the real work—deeply scanning and attempting to recover files—Data Rescue 3 will probably need a few hours. This isn’t unusual in data recovery, but worth noting nonetheless. The wait typically pays off, however, because Drive Rescue 3 does a great job finding and restoring deleted files. The program recognizes a remarkable number of file types and even has the ability to learn previously unknown file types. Two things to keep in mind: you’ll need to connect a second drive (external or internal hard drive, USB flash drive, etc.) for Data Rescue 3 to use for data caching purposes, and you’ll probably be spending a while manually sorting through the results of a scan, as Data Rescue 3 will not recover original file names. Data Rescue’s user interface is modern, functional, and blends in with the Mac aesthetic.
You’ll find Data Rescue 3 for sale on Amazon.
FileSalvage 7 ($90)
- Great results
- Can also scan external drives, memory cards, and optical discs
- Scans can take hours
Top Review Sources:
- MacWorld UK: 4.0/5.0 “FileSalvage is part of a range of recovery tools and is the most comprehensive consumer offering of the lot”
- ExpertReviews.co.uk: 4.0/5.0 “In the end…it’s the results that count, and FileSalvage did what it claimed to do”
- MacNation.org: 4.0/5.0 “A very promising piece of software and the support department is top-notch”
SubRosaSoft’s FileSalvage 7 is the most recent version of the company’s Macintosh data recovery software. FileSalvage recognizes an impressive number of file types and provides options for narrowing your search in cases when you have good idea what you are looking for or where it may be. Like other data recovery software, FileSalvage uses a separate volume to save recovered files. After an easy installation, you’ll be presented with the main window, where you can choose to Recover Deleted Files, Salvage All Files, or Explore A Drive. Recover Deleted Files examines the free space of your drive for recently removed information. Salvage All Files is a more extensive operation to be used on faulty or corrupted disks. It attempts to copy all useable data from the disk to another volume. Explore A Drive allows you to initiate precise search and rescue operations rather than attempt to recover all the data on a disk. In Explore A Drive mode, you can teach the program to recognize file types it doesn’t currently know. In all three modes, you’ll be able to preview your results before undeleting. Be prepared for extensive scans to take hours, and know that FileSalvage won’t typically be able to recover file names along with the data.
You can purchase and download SubRosaSoft’s FileSalvage 7 on the official website.
Disk Drill Pro ($90)
- Recovers data on HFS/HFS+, FAT, and NTFS drives
- S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring
- Recovery Vault enhances data recovery
- Scanning is free, but recovery requires upgrade
Top Review Sources:
- CNET: 4.0/5.0 “A good option for getting [data] back, especially for less technically inclined users”
- MacUpdate User Reviews: 4.0/5.0 (20+ reviews)
- MacWorld UK: 4.0/5.0 “Disk Drill’s interface is bright and bold and helps you through every stage of the recovery process”
Disk Drill Pro by Cleverfiles is a powerful utility for do-it-yourself undeletion. There is a free edition of Disk Drill, but it only performs lost data scans; to recover deleted files, you’ll need to purchase the Pro edition. With the Pro edition, you get a user-friendly interface and helpful documentation, making it one of the best data recovery programs for those unsure about the process. For the tentative, it is worth downloading the free edition for a thorough test-drive, then upgrading if you are happy with what you see. In the Pro edition, you’ll find flexible scanning and recovery options, as well as a long list of known file types. Disk Drill’s innovative Recovery Vault acts a bridge between backup and recovery; turn it on and Disk Drill starts monitoring and preserving deleted files, making it quick and easy to get them back if you need to. Recovery Vault-restored files will have their file names preserved, a rare accomplishment in the world of Mac data recovery software. Recovering erased files not protected by Recovery Vault takes longer and won’t restore your file names, but the results are still excellent. S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring is included, meaning Disk Drill Pro will be scrutinizing the health of your hard drive and alerting you to overheating and other impending calamities.
Cleverfiles’ Disk Drill Pro is for sale on the official website.