Data Recovery Digest

Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison

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The Best Pro Data Recovery Software - Review 2017

If you are a data recovery professional, you face much more challenging tasks than home users. As such, you have higher demands for the software you use. Professional data recovery software goes above and beyond the features and performance of the programs we evaluated in our article: “Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison.” These programs are intended to be used by technicians who have a deep knowledge of recovery methods, hard drive operation, and the various different file systems used by businesses and larger operations. A good professional data recovery program includes the features that allow you to fully utilize your knowledge while omitting extraneous features that may be more suitable for amateurs or home users.

Furthermore, the market for professional data recovery software is very dynamic. As new data storage and data recovery technologies are developed, new programs enter the market and established developers add functionality to their existing products. To stay abreast of the latest offerings, we update our professional data recovery software comparison on an annual basis. This year, our criteria remain the same, though we’ve added a few additional programs to our review.

A program that is suitable for professional data recovery must have the following features in addition to standard ones:

  • A wide variety of supported file systems, including those used in server environments.
  • RAID recovery, with support for rare and non-standard RAID layouts.
  • Advanced hexadecimal editor that is able to parse and interpret disk data.
  • Advanced disk imaging and copying.
  • Additional features that can expand the data recovery services you can offer. For example, network data recovery allows technicians to provide clients full-fledged remote data recovery service from anywhere in the world.

From a functionality standpoint, the above features are key. The end user license is equally important. The end user license should allow for performance of commercial data recovery on your client’s machines and systems. Many programs suitable for professional data recovery are offered in multiple versions, each with a different end user license. For our descriptions, we give the pricing that includes an end user license suitable for working on systems other than your own.

On the other hand, some features are less crucial for professionals. Many do-it-yourself data recovery programs include wizard-style interfaces that pre-select various parameters for applicability to the most common cases. Data recovery pros may find these features unhelpful, or even restrictive, and may prefer a more advanced interface that allows greater control and customization. For this comparison, we will be providing very limited focus on these basic features. However, we do address the demo mode restrictions for each professional data recovery program. Each of these data recovery utilities has its own strengths and weaknesses, and being able to estimate a particular program’s ability to recover files in a specific scenario without making the significant investment in a commercial license can be extremely useful.

And a final note: Although our discussion is dedicated to logical data recovery (i.e. data recovery from a problematic file system on an otherwise healthy hard drive) we should point out that some professional data recovery programs can work together with special disk imaging and recovery hardware. Such hardware and software integration can retrieve data even from severely damaged hard drives. This functionality, while not essential for all tasks, can greatly expand the level of service you can offer to your data recovery customers.

  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014

Professional Data Recovery Software Tested and Evaluated in 2017

For the 2017 update of our professional data recovery software comparison, we keep the scope of our tests the same as for the tests of 2016, with two exceptions:

  • We used a much more complex folder structure and more files for or our tests. That’s why some test results look different compared to those from the previous reviews.
  • We added a new test: automatic re-construction of Linux MD RAIDs. They are quite popular, as they are used not only in Linux servers, many Linux-based NAS devices use them, too.

We added one new program to our tests:

ReclaiMe file recovery (ver. 3074)

ReclaiMe file recovery

Reviewed Version: 3074

Prices: Standard: US$79.95 Ultimate: US$199.95 ReclaiMe Pro:US$799.00

Host operating systems: Windows

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Developer Website: http://www.reclaime.com/

We also included a new program which is a successor to the famous UFS Explorer Professional Recovery:

Recovery Explorer Professional (ver. 6.8.1)

Recovery Explorer Professional

Reviewed Version: 6.8.1

Prices: Home/Personal: US$214.06, Corporate/Business: US$860.00

Host operating systems: Windows XP SP3,Vista,7,8,10,Server 2003,2008. Versions for Mac OS X and Linux with the same functionality are available.

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Developer Website: http://r-explorer.com

We continue to test and evaluate the programs which were included in our 2016 review:

R-Studio (ver. 8.1 build 165145)

R-Studio

Reviewed Version: 8.1 build 165145

Prices: Local recovery: US$79.99 Network recovery: US$179.99 Technician License: US$899.00

Host operating systems: Windows 2000,XP,Vista,7,8,10, Server 2003,2008,2012(32/64 bit). Technician license includes versions for Mac OS X and Linux with the same functionality.

Support for data recovery hardware: DeepSpar Disk Imager™ (http://ww.deepspar.com/products-ds-disk-imager.html) (Technician license only)

Developer Website: http://www.data-recovery-software.net/

DMDE (ver. 3.0.6)

DMDE

Reviewed Version: 3.0.6

Prices: Professional: US$95.00 (Additional features)

Host operating systems: Windows 98,ME,NT,2000,XP,Vista,7,8,10(32/64 bit). DOS and Linux command-line versions are available.

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Developer Website: http://dmde.com/

Active@ File Recovery (ver. 15)

Active@ File Recovery

Reviewed Version: 15

Prices: Standard: US$29.95 (Personal), US$39.95 (Corporate) Professional: US$44.95 (Personal), US$64.95 (Corporate) Ultimate: US$69.95 (Personal), US$89.95 (Corporate) Unlimited: US$ US$ 99500

Host operating systems: Windows XP,Vista,7,8,10,Server 2003,2008,2012(32/64 bit).

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Developer Website: http://www.file-recovery.net

FILERECOVERY Enterprise (ver. 5.5.8.4)

FILERECOVERY Enterprise

Reviewed Version: 5.5.8.4

Prices: Standard: US$69.95 Professional: US$99.95 Enterprise: US$349.95 Enterprise Commercial: US$399.95

Host operating systems: Windows XP SP3,Vista SP2,7 SP1,8,10(32/64 bit)

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Developer Website: http://www.lc-tech.com/pc/filerecovery/

Evaluation and Test Results

Overall product ratings

Overall product ratings were based on two main criteria:

  • Interface and features – We evaluated each software package’s capabilities and created a side-by-side comparison of the most crucial professional data recovery features.
  • File recovery performance – We put the identified features to the test to determine how effectively each program can recover data in various scenarios.

Since our last review, R-Studio keeps the leading position as the best professional data recovery software. But the new program, ReclaiMe File Recovery, has lived up to our high expectations, ranking third overall. DMDE moved up to the fourth-ranked software from last place in the 2016 review mainly because it seriously improved its data recovery performance. On the other hand, FILERECOVERY Enterprise seriously worsened its overall standing because it no longer recognizes non-Latin characters and it constantly crashed during several tests.

As in our previous tests, all tested programs showed quite similar performance for data recovery for conventional data recovery cases. The main difference was in data recovery from various RAID and logical disk managers. And in those tests, R-Studio now has a very good competitor: ReclaiMe File Recovery. They both showed quite outstanding performance in this comparison. They are the only programs which support data recovery from Windows Storage Spaces. R-Studio supports Apple RAIDs, but ReclaiMe File Recovery supports Linux MD RAIDs. Recovery Explorer Professional is a close runner-up, supporting Windows LDM RAIDs, Linux MD RAIDs, and Linux LVM/LVM2 manager. It claimed to support Windows Storage Spaces, too, but failed during our tests. Had the tests been successful, it would have been the best in this category.

For long term support, Active@ File Recovery takes the lead, with its improved recognition of non-Latin characters, support for new file systems, and introduction of the LVM/LVM2 manager, plus a few smaller new features. Other programs have no important features added since our last review. As more mature products, it’s likely that the developers are now concentrating on bugfixing and performance enhancements. The only small exception is DMDE which improved its localization support by adding four new interface languages.

Interface and Features Ratings
Product Localization Support Demo version restrictions File preview Standard file recovery features Advanced file recovery features
R-Studio5.84.55.05.95.9
Recovery Explorer Professional4.53.53.54.83.3
DMDE5.55.50.04.72.9
ReclaiMe file recovery3.52.54.54.82.8
Active@ File Recovery3.53.54.04.42.4
FILERECOVERY Enterprise3.53.03.04.32.3
File recovery performance Ratings
Product Deleted files Emptied Recycle Bin Disk re-format Damaged partition Deleted partition RAID recovery
R-Studio5.55.55.55.85.55.3
Recovery Explorer Professional5.35.05.25.25.33.5
ReclaiMe file recovery4.35.34.45.65.14.3
Active@ File Recovery5.25.53.65.75.92.6
DMDE5.25.55.05.46.00.6
FILERECOVERY Enterprise4.84.84.04.65.31.1
Overall Rating
Product Rating Conclusions
R-Studio 5.5

An excellent combination of file recovery features and performance. Shows the best results in almost every category. A must-have for any data recovery professional. Strengths: Outstanding RAID and logical disk manager recovery, file preview, network data recovery, a disk copy module, built-in hexadecimal editor, excellent documentation including online manuals and tutorials for almost all data recovery scenarios. High scores for almost all file recovery cases. Weaknesses: Lacks support for less common file systems, such as XFS, ZFS, JFS, Novell NWFS/NSS, VMware VMFS, ReiserFS, and for Linux MD RAIDs.

Recovery Explorer Professional 4.5

Very decent professional data recovery software. It has good recovery features and performance. Strengths: One of the best sets of supported file systems. Very good data recovery performance, always among the top scores. Excellent raw file recovery. Support for Windows LDM and Linux MD RAIDs, and LVM/LVM2 manager. Weaknesses: Limited file preview capabilities. It also doesn’t show the disk’s S.M.A.R.T. attributes.

ReclaiMe file recovery 4.3

A very promising data recovery program. It deservedly won the third position in our rating thanks to its excellent combination of file recovery features and performance. Strengths: One of the best sets of supported file systems. Good support for many RAID levels and logical disk managers. Very good performance, especially for data recovery from emptied Recycle Bin and damaged partitions. Weaknesses: There is no built-in S.M.A.R.T. reporting and no support for custom RAID layouts. It also could not automatically detect RAID5 parameters; however, ReclaiMe did find correct RAID parameters in other tests outside the scope of this review.

Active@ File Recovery 4.2

An effective data recovery program with nearly all the features required for professional data recovery. It introduced the largest number of new features added since our last review. Strengths: Support for Windows LDM RAIDs and Linux LVM/LVM2. The best score for file recovery from deleted partitions Weaknesses: Only one interface language (English). Very limited demo evaluation mode; no advanced features (such as RAID recovery) can be tested. Lacks support for Windows Storage Spaces and user-defined RAID layouts. It doesn’t show a disk’s S.M.A.R.T. attributes.

Since our last review: The program can now recognize all tested localized characters.

New features: Support for new file systems: XFS, UDF, and ISO Support for Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM/LVM2) Some smaller data recovery features

DMDE 4.2

A highly advanced hexadecimal editor tailored for data recovery for Windows and Linux file systems. Requires a very deep knowledge of disk and file system structures. Strengths: Very advanced disk and file editing capabilities. No demo mode limitations, except group file recovery. Very attractive pricing. Very good imaging capabilities. Showed the best results in recovering data from deleted partitions. Weaknesses: It has no previewer and no support for the HFS+ (Apple) file system. No support for logical disk managers. It doesn’t show the disk’s S.M.A.R.T. attributes.

Since our last review: Improved localization support: four new interface languages are added.

FILERECOVERY Enterprise 3.7

Quite unusual, but this program has worsened its performance since our last test, mainly because it stopped recognizing non-Latin characters and it crashed in several tests. Still, it showed good results in data recovery from deleted partitions and for files deleted without the Recycle Bin. Strengths: Good data recovery performance in some cases. Good results in the automatic RAID parameter recognition test. An outstanding number of interface languages. It showed a detailed S.M.A.R.T. analysis. Weaknesses: Crashed during several tests. Unrecognized non-Latin characters. No support for logical disk managers.

Since our last review: The program stopped recognizing non-Latin characters.

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