Data recovery software is primarily intended to restore data from a hard drive that is either failing or has had files accidentally deleted. Traditional hard drives are more susceptible to malfunction than flash memory-based drives, because flash drives have no moving parts and aren’t as vulnerable to physical breakdown. However, it is just as easy to mistakenly delete data from a flash drive as it is to delete it from a hard drive. Most data recovery software includes options for restoring lost data from both types of drives. This article focuses on data recovery software that is able to quickly and effectively undelete data on USB flash drives. All of our selections require a Windows operating system.
We’ve researched websites such as V3.co.uk, PC World, Recovery-Review.com, Computeractive, Download.com, About.com, CNET, and PC Magazine. Here is the top rated data recovery software for USB drives:
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition (Free)
- Effective USB drive data recovery
- Ability to perform Windows hard drive data recovery
- 1GB limit on recovered data
Top Review Sources:
- V3.co.uk: 4.0/5.0 “An ideal solution for those seeking to recover lost data on all forms of removable media”
- PC World: “EaseUs Data Recovery Wizard Free actually works and it’s not a glorified undelete program like some you’ll encounter”
- Recovery-Review.com: “The program has proven to be a reliable, stable and fast tool”
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition is a full-featured undelete program with options for USB flash drive data restoration. No matter how you lost the files—accidental deletion, software crash, damage from malware, or even reformatting—Data Recovery Wizard will almost certainly be able to help. This program has advanced capabilities such as sector scanning and file name restoration. The only catch is that the Free Edition only allows you to recover 1GB of data. You’ll be able to scan for and see all the data that EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard finds and can restore, but without spending $70 for the paid edition, you can’t recover more than a gigabyte. With USB flash drive capacities commonly well above 1GB, it is likely you will need the paid edition. However, you may not, and even if you do, there isn’t any investment required to try out this solid performer.
BadCopy Pro ($40)
- Dedicated removable media recovery
- Only recognizes FAT file systems
Top Review Sources:
- PC World: “If you’ve ever inserted a CD, floppy, Zip disk, or thumb drive only to have Windows cough up an error message telling you it isn’t there, isn’t formatted, or some such, you’ll appreciate BadCopy Pro”
- Computeractive: “If you need to recover a file, it’s definitely worth giving BadCopy a try”
- Dowload.com User Reviews: 3.0/5.0 (35+ reviews)
BadCopy Pro is a dedicated removable media recovery program. USB flash drives commonly use the FAT32 file system. FAT32 allows data to be written and read between Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, so it is useful to have removable media formatted with FAT32. However, it is possible to format a USB drive with another popular file system, such as NTFS (used by modern Windows operating systems). If you don’t work with FAT32, look elsewhere for your USB flash drive data recovery software. However, if you are using FAT32, BadCopy Pro is worth a close look. BadCopy Pro is built to restore data on USB drives and other removable media. It works in a few simple steps to scan for deleted or corrupted files, and its interface is clean and simple. If you download the free trial version of BadCopy Pro, you’ll be able to preview the files it finds but not save them. If you are happy with the results, you can purchase the paid version in order to restore your data.
- Great performance
- Helpful interface
- Some paid programs offer more features
Top Review Sources:
- About.com: 5.0/5.0 “Contains a simple wizard and advanced options – perfect for everyone”
- CNET: 4.5/5.0 “An excellent choice for anyone in need of reliable file recovery”
- PC Magazine: 4.0/5.0 “An attractive interface that you can navigate easily even when you’re distracted by the fear that you’ve lost precious data for ever”
Piriform’s Recuva is a well-known and respected name in the data recovery game. Its main draw is its ability to save data from hard drives, but it also has the capability to rescue USB drive data. Recuva’s friendly wizard guides you through the process in a step-by-step fashion. You will be able to preview your results before saving. In tests, Recuva performs very well in finding and saving lost data. Advanced options included a deep scanning mode, sector-based recovery, and secure file deletion.
Download Recuva for free on Piriform’s website.