Let’s begin our review of free data recovery software for the Mac with the powerful and full-featured Disk Drill application. It is a complete data recovery package that is designed to recover deleted partitions or restore deleted files from your Mac’s internal drives as well as many peripherals including iOS and Android devices. In addition to its great data recovery capabilities, Disk Drill offers users advanced methods that increase your ability to proactively protect your precious data.
Disk Drill employs a suite of powerful scanning options that can recover lost and deleted files from your Mac’s hard drive as well as from most external storage devices. When you first install and run the program you will be presented with a window that displays the drives or devices that are available for recovery. Depending on the type of device you may choose from a Quick scan that will often be able to recover your missing file, or dive deeper with Deep scanning technology. With a Deep scan, files can be recovered from formatted drives as the program identifies the scattered file components and puts them back together. Disk Drill can easily recover files from an emptied Trash Bin.
Disk Drill’s recovery and scanning algorithms can recognize more than 200 different file types meaning that the program can recover just about any file that might reside on your Mac machine. This includes photos, videos, documents, and applications to name a few. The application runs on Mac machines that run OS 10.8 or later and offers users an intuitive interface that allows you to filter files and select the recovery location for your files.
Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery are data protection options that are included in the free trial version of the software. Activating these functions allows Disk Drill to monitor your file deletion activity and retain metadata to allow for quick and easy file recovery.
Deep scanning technology provides a greater chance of recovery success.
Over 300 file types are supported.
Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery are included in the free version of the tool.
Free version only allows preview of data recovery or recovery of previously protected data.
TestDisk is an open-source, freeware product that is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. It runs on many operating systems including the newest versions of the Mac OS X. The program is tailored to be useful to both experienced data recovery personnel as well as novices. Reports can be generated on non-bootable drives that can be used by tech support teams to diagnose drive problems.
The original intent of this freeware application was to recover lost partitions and correct problems in bootable drives that are failing to boot. It is excellent at performing those functions and can also be used to undelete files and recover or rebuild boot sectors. The tool recognizes many file types and can be instrumental in assisting you in your data recovery efforts.
No cost associated with using this freeware product.
Free customer support is available from the TestDisk team.
May be more suitable for expert users.
Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery is a totally free software tool that enables you to recover an unlimited amount of data with no financial investment whatsoever. The developers rely on donations to further product development and customer support. The package is specifically developed for the Mac OS environment and can be used to recover data from HFS/HFS+, FAT, FAT32, NTFS, EXFAT and other file systems.
The program employs complimentary file recovery and drive recovery methods to restore files that were accidentally deleted. Formatted partitions can be recovered using a deep scan with the drive recovery algorithms. You can use this program to recover photos, music files, documents, and applications from your hard drive of SD card. Data and file preview is supported during the applications scanning phase and the results are displayed in an easy-to-use user interface.
Designed to be used in the Mac OS environment.
No cost recovery of unlimited data.
May not support the most current version of the Mac operating system.
iSkysoft Data Recovery is the next offering in our overview of recovery programs. It supports any type of storage device that uses the NTFS, FAT16, FAT32 or exFAT file systems. The application runs on Mac machines running OS 10.5 through the newest version 10.14. You can use this versatile program to recover photos, documents, music files, and just about any other type of file found on your computer.
This software tool offers you the ability to preview files before recovery to ensure that you don’t waste time restoring invalid or corrupt files. The user interface presents your data in folder trees and filters make it easy to locate the file you are interested in recovering. The intuitive user interface makes file recovery simple. You can download a free trial version to test drive the app and recover a limited amount of data.
A 30-day money back guarantee is provided with the paid version of the software.
Slower than average scan and recovery speeds compared to other tools.
Free version is limited to 1GB of recovered data.
Rounding out our look at free Mac data recovery tools is the M3 Data Recovery application. It runs on Mac machines running OS 10.7 through the newest version of Mojave. The program recognizes a wide variety of file types and systems including encrypted APFS partitions.
Using this tool you can recover data from virtually any storage device that is compatible with your Mac computer. The app has the ability to recover deleted files from an emptied Trash Bin as well as from deleted logical volumes. A pre-recovery preview function allows you to view actual recovery results in virtual mode before proceeding with the actual restore.
Supports all Mac-compatible storage devices.
The free version has the ability to scan lost data but only allows 1GB of data recovery.
PhotoRec is a free recovery tool that specializes in recovering lost images from all types of disk-based storage media and CD-ROMs. It is a companion product to the partition recovery tool TestDisk. It works on a wide variety of operating systems and file systems and can restore files from damaged or corrupted disks.
PhotoRec provides users with a menu-driven, command-line interface that can be used to recover photos and images from a wide variety of storage devices. You can upload damaged or corrupted files to the tool’s online checker which will let you know if they are potentially recoverable. The utility runs in read-only mode and will not cause any damage to your disk or storage device.
Recovers many file types besides photos;
Recovers from many different kinds of storage devices;
May not fully recover data;
Suitable for experienced users;
Exif Untrasher is a free Mac data recovery software tool that was developed with a single purpose in mind. It can be used to recover JPEG images from an SD card, memory stick or hard disk. The utility can restore accidentally deleted files from many types of SD cards and digital cameras.
Exif Untrasher offers users a basic graphical interface that enables them to recover deleted JPEG files from an SD card or digital camera. The card needs to be mounted as a volume on your Mac machine for the utility to access it and attempt a restore. No changes are made to your SD card and the tool prompts for a safe location to restore any found JPEGs.
It can be used on many digital cameras and other storage devices.
It can only recover JPEG files.
|Criteria||Disk Drill||TestDisk||Lazesoft||iSkysoft||M3||PhotoRec||Exif Untrasher|
|User-interface quality||Excellent||Poor command-line tool||Good||Excellent||Excellent||Poor command-line tool||Fair|
|Recover files from emptied Trash||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Storage Media supported||All disk-based storage devices||All disk-based storage devices||All disk-based storage devices||All disk-based storage devices||All disk-based storage devices||All disk-based storage devices||All disk-based storage devices|
|Mac OS support||Mac OS X 10.5 - macOS 10.15||Mac OS X 10.5 - macOS 10.14||Mac OS X 10.5 - macOS 10.13||Mac OS X 10.6 - macOS 10.15||Mac OS X 10.7 - macOS 10.15||Mac OS X 10.5 - macOS 10.14||Mac OS X 10.10 and later|
|Preview data before recovery||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Data Protection Tools||Free tools included with the trial version||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Price||$89||Freeware||Freeware||$79.95 yearly subscription||$99.95||Freeware||Freeware|
Follow these steps to recover deleted files from Mac’s Trash:
To recover files using Mac terminal:
Here’s how to recover with a Time Machine backup:
If you do not have a Time Machine backup, your best chance of recovering your files is by using data recovery software. A data recovery app can get back files that have already been deleted from your Mac’s Trash and help you recover accidentally lost and deleted files in many different scenarios. It’s a cost-effective alternative to sending out your disk to a professional data recovery service.
To recover files from your Mac’s hard drive follow these steps:
Disk Drill is the best hard drive recovery software you can obtain for your Mac. It combines powerful recovery technology with an intuitive and easy to use interface to offer a versatile tool that can be used by anyone with a Mac. Quickly recover lost or deleted files from your hard drive with just a few clicks using Disk Drill.
To recover lost files from and external hard drive on Mac:
You need to resolve the issue so macOS recognizes the drive before attempting recovery. You can try: