In-Depth Disk Drill for Windows Review (Updated 2021)

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Disk Drill for Windows review

Brief Overview of Disk Drill

Starting priceFree version available, professional licenses from $89 with a $29 add-on for a lifetime license.
FeaturesData recovery for a vast range of storage devices and file types
Scanning corrupted disks, partitions and raw disks
Backup and restore
File preview during scanning
Proprietary SMART technology
CompetitorsRecuva
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
Stellar Data Recovery
Recoverit Data Recovery

Disk Drill is a data recovery tool that’s very reliable for retrieving lost data. Its developers are constantly upgrading the software and have just released a new version: The latest update – Disk Drill for Windows 4.2 boasts of more powerful scanning algorithms, optimized recovery features, and an even more intuitive user interface.

Disk Drill is very handy when you need to recover data from your computer or external storage devices. It can handle data recovery processes for all kinds of data storage and recover a myriad of different file types (400+). Additionally, Disk Drill provides tools that help protect your data.

How to Get Started with Disk Drill

If you need a quick data recovery solution, setting up Disk Drill has two easy steps.

  1. Download Disk Drill from the official website.
  2. Open the setup and install Disk Drill. Grant Disk Drill administrator privileges, as this is necessary for the algorithms to run.

You are now ready to recover data from your desired location! Opening Disk Drill reveals the main menu, which is intuitive and easy to navigate.

disk drill home page

What’s New in Disk Drill?

Although Disk Drill has been around for a long time, constant upgrades improve its functionality. The unique selling proposition of Disk Drill includes powerful scanning algorithms and an extremely user-friendly interface. Just when we thought it could not get any better, the developers released an update that enhances the tool even more.

Enhanced NTFS scanning

The standout feature for Disk Drill 4.2 is the new NTFS scanning module, which is better suited to recover data from formatted or corrupted drives. It is instrumental in critical data loss situations.

Improvements

magnifying glass icon Deep scan algorithm upgrade that detects a wide selection of file types with better accuracy.

disk icon NTFS scanner made compatible with compressed volumes.

fast iconFaster scanning sequences make it possible to detect bad sectors fast and reveal found data more quickly.

resume button iconAuto-resume scanning helps with drives that disconnect during scanning; automating data recovery to save you time. Also, you can avoid those nasty interruptions from hindering your progress.

compress iconA 25% smaller installation package enables you to get started with data recovery faster.

free data recovery software Disk Drill for Windows & macOS Free Download

How Different is the Latest Update?

If you are an existing user of Disk Drill, you will notice that Disk Drill has provided some improved features in this update. However, if you are in dual minds about upgrading, here is a handy comparison of what changed between the latest update and the previous version.

FeatureDisk Drill version 4.1Disk Drill version 4.2
NTFS smart deep scanning (file system reconstruction) for compressed volumesNo; it also crashes randomlyYes; random crashes fixed
Scanning drives that keep disconnectingYes; saves interrupted session so you can resumeYes; it automatically resumes scanning to save time
Deep scan for various file types: PUB, MSI, DOC-DOCX, PDF, TTF, RAR, ZIP, CAB, BRAW, CinemaDNG, IPYNB, ICNS, JTD, JTDC, JTT & JTTCNo, not applicableYes, comprehensive support is available
Updated SMART to support more device brands: Kingston, WD, SanDisk, Transcend, Seagate, and other manufacturersLimited supportFull support of all modern HDD/SSD drives
Real time temperature monitoringNoYes

Taking Disk Drill for a Test Drive

We previously tested Disk Drill extensively for its data recovery capabilities. Attempting to test Disk Drill 4.2 for Windows, our scope included three storage devices – SD cards, external hard drives, and the Recycle Bin. We tried selecting different file types – documents, photos and videos, and folders and recovered them using Disk Drill.

Recovering Deleted Folders from Hard Drives

We tried to restore deleted data from a hard drive, and Disk Drill worked precisely as claimed! The recovery process was straightforward, and here’s what we did:

Step 1. We launched Disk Drill and selected the hard drive we wanted to recover.

Step 2. After selecting all methods we clicked on Search for lost data.

disk drill main screen sd card selected

Step 3. We waited while the scan ran, but Disk Drill found our folders before the scan was complete. So we paused the scan and selected recovery.

disk drill windows scan results preview selected

Step 4. The folders got restored, and we placed them in a new location.

Often, recovery programs will restore your files, but in an unusable format. Hence, we tried to open the recovered folders, and the files inside worked perfectly!

Recovering Deleted Photos from an SD card

Another time we found Disk Drill helpful was when our SD card for project photography got corrupted. Consequently, we couldn’t access the photos. Eventually, we tried our luck with Disk Drill, and it worked wonders:

Step 1. We connected the SD card to the computer and launched Disk Drill.

Step 2. After selecting the corrupted SD card as the target location, we began the scan. disk drill device selection page

In about ten minutes, the scan was complete, and we could access the photos Disk Drill had recovered.

Step 3. We chose to restore the files to a new location, and that was it! disk drill recovery page

Recovering Documents Deleted from the Recycle Bin

One of our team members accidentally emptied their Recycle Bin while trying to recover an important document. This blunder would have been very troublesome, so we tried using Disk Drill to recover it in a last-ditch effort. Here’s how it went:

Step 1. We launched Disk Drill and chose the Recycle Bin as the recovery target.

Step 2. Using the quick scan method, we scanned the Recycle Bin.

After about five minutes, Disk Drill found quite a few documents, including the PDF file we were looking for.


recovering files in disk drill

Step 3. We restored this file to a new location, opened it, and found that it worked smoothly.

To quickly sum up, Disk Drill worked exactly as advertised. It often helped us in tricky situations, and we can’t recommend it more!

The Complete Disk Drill Review

Now that we have tested the newest version of Disk Drill let’s delve into its specific features.

System requirements

Disk Drill’s latest versions work on Windows 7 (SP 1)  and above. Therefore, if you are using Windows 7/8/8.1/10, Disk Drill 4.2 should run on your computer without any problems. However, remember to grant it administrator privileges. If you are using an older version of Windows, you could consider trying out Disk Drill’s older versions (Disk Drill 2).

Pricing Plans

Disk Drill offers a free trial to their software which lets you test out all of the features and restore up to 500MB. However, if you want to recover more files, you should consider upgrading. The Pro version for one user and up to three activations will cost you $89. 
disk drill activation alert

However, it might be a good idea to also pay for lifetime upgrades (29$) as the software is constantly improving. Buying licenses for a business is more expensive, but you can have up to 10 users with unlimited activations (499$ plus lifetime upgrades at 99$).

disk drill pricing plans

Features

Disk Drill is primarily a data recovery tool. Its main features are:

  • Powerful quick and deep scan algorithms
  • Compatibility with several file systems including FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, APFS, and ext2/ext3/ext4
  • Compatible with essential file types for documents, media, and other kinds of data
  • Automatic scans
  • Scanning lost partitions
  • Scanning RAW devices

User-interface

Often the recovery process is complex for new users. Disk Drill takes the pressure off with its clean and intuitive interface. You always know where to find the correct options and what to do next. 

Moreover, the new version neatly tucks all functions into the left pane, paving the way for a quick recovery. All other features are visible on the right for easy access. Furthermore, you can choose to see your scan results as a detailed list or tree, which speeds up your search for lost data.

Recovery Process

The steps involved in data recovery are made extremely simple for Disk Drill. Regardless of the storage device or the file types you want to recover, Disk Drill works in five simple steps:

Step 1. Install and launch Disk Drill:
Disk Drill setup screenshot Step 2. Select the drive and a scanning algorithm.
disk drill device selection page Step 3. Run the scan. Either wait for the scan to complete or check the scan results for your file.
disk drill device selection page Step 4. Select the files you want to restore, select a new location to place them in.
selecting destination for saved videos Step 5. Click recover and your files should be ready to use!

Almost sounds too good to be true, correct? But Disk Drill is genuinely that easy to work with.

Data Recovery Performance

We have been using Disk Drill extensively for a while now. And while we had some minor bugs with the previous version, the latest update has fixed them. 

Earlier, Disk Drill would crash during scans at random, but the update has fixed this issue. Besides this, Disk Drill now has a lower chance of missing files we want to recover and has a better accuracy rate.

In the tests we ran with hard drives, SD cards, and the Recycle Bin, Disk Drill gave us no problems. The bottom line is that our verdict is highly in favor of Disk Drill works.

Additional tools

The creators of Disk Drill noted the need for data protection. Often we run into situations where we need data recovery because we don’t back up our data regularly enough or empty Recycle Bins (like we did). 

As a result, Disk Drill offers free, inbuilt data protection services. When you configure these settings, Disk Drill provides you with a Recovery Vault that facilitates quick recovery of deleted files.

The Recovery Vault intelligently “remembers” where your files were stored. As a result, since Disk Drill has this pointer information, file recovery becomes effortless. However, if the deleted file IDs get overwritten, recovery isn’t possible. Therefore, when you encounter deletion, it’s critical that you use your computer or disk less.

recovery vault in disk drill

This rescue feature of Disk Drill is also prevalent among users, with many using it as their new backup tool. 

One user commented, “Besides all the great disk utility functions, Disk Drill has already saved me from many problems with its amazing recovery function! I have lost count of how many times I’ve had files mistakenly deleted, only to be recovered by Disk Drill. It has become my backup utility.”

Disk Drill for Business

As a large enterprise, your data recovery needs will differ from those of an individual user. A business cannot afford to spend its time troubleshooting issues by itself, not when there is so much on the line. This is why an enterprise license is a great idea.
disk drill enterprise edition

As a licensed enterprise user, you can expect:

  • Unlimited recovery
  • Commercial data recovery
  • Inbuilt data protection tools
  • Ten users and unlimited activations
  • Priority customer service

These features cover all your data recovery needs as an enterprise and make sure that you are not left stranded when you run into problems.

Pros and Cons of Disk Drill

While we love Disk Drill and are always amazed at the incredible work the creators put into it, we notice the good and the bad about all software we test.

Pros

  • User-friendly UI
  • Powerful scanning algorithms offering greater accuracy and versatility
  • Compatibility across major versions of Windows 
  • Recovery for a wide range of file systems and file types
  • Free inbuilt data protection and backup tools 
  • RAW photo recovery 

Cons

  • Limited customer support for the free version
  • Disk Drill does not work on phones
  • Deep scanning algorithms might take too long

Although there are apparent problems with Disk Drill that we would love to see fixed, they aren’t pressing. What we like most about Disk Drill is the constant evolution to resolving issues that users face. And that’s why we are sure that they will iron out these problems eventually.

Disk Drill VS other Data Recovery Tools

There are many data recovery tools on the market, and they look incredibly similar to each other. Like you, we wondered if the fluff about Disk Drill was well-deserved or whether it was just like its competitors, just packaged differently.

Perhaps most importantly, unlike EaseUS and Stellar, the creators of Disk Drill are constantly fixing bugs. So even if you encounter problems, if you flag them to the developers, they will help find a fix.

Disk Drill’s pricing plans are also an excellent value for money. Instead of subscribing to the service, you pay a one-time fee to license the software, and you can use it as long as you like. Like we mentioned previously, Disk Drill is constantly evolving through updates, so it makes sense to also pay a one-time fee for lifetime upgrades. That way, you always use the very best version of the tool.

Here’s a list of commendable alternatives to Disk Drill.

disk drill premium features

Disk Drill also has the inbuilt capacity to deal with a very long list of file types, and you need not add them manually as Stellar does. Disk Drill takes away the stress of additional steps, allowing you to focus only on what’s important: your data.

The two major problems with Disk Drill are:

  • Lack of phone support
  • Full scans take longer to complete than other recovery tools

We compared Disk Drill against two significant players on the market which are incredibly popular with users – EaseUS and Stellar. Here’s a quick review of each of those:

EaseUS

Ease US home screen

EaseUS is packed with features that allow you to recover your corrupted, deleted, or lost files quickly. 

Here are some of the highlights:

Pros

  • Intuitive interface, allowing even new users to get started very quickly
  • EaseUS scans average drives in about 15 minutes, which is an impressively short amount of time
  • Recognizes RAW partitions

Cons

  • Large files take too long to retrieve
  • Subscription based pricing plans are unsuitable for most users

Stellar

Stellar is for advanced users who know their way around intricate software. Its basic functionality provides recovery support for up to 200 file types, including databases, documents, and media. This is good enough for a regular user, but users working with specific file formats will find this frustrating. 

stellar scan page

Pros

Allows users to expand its file compatibility manually. Advanced users can make the best of this feature when they need to recover custom file types.

Cons

  • Data recovery results are inconsistent
  • Like EaseUS, the pricing model is subscription-based, locking you into a plan you did not need or want

Verdict

While we think that Disk Drill is an excellent service, there are situations where you could make better use of the other software. 

SoftwareWhen to use
EaseUSFor all kinds of data recovery, but especially when dealing with RAW partitions
StellarData recovery for specific file formats, mainly when you work with uncommon file types that need to be added manually
Disk DrillAll kinds of data recovery, but in particular when you need to get started right away and when you want additional protection for your data

Conclusion

Disk Drill is a great tool for your personal and professional data recovery needs. Here are some pointers that will help decide whether Disk Drill is the tool for you:

Use Disk Drill if you:

  •  Experience data loss often
  • Work extensively with storage drives that undergo wear and tear
  • Run an enterprise where digital files are invaluable
  • Want a one-stop-shop for data protection & recovery

Skip Disk Drill if:

  • You need to recover very specific and uncommon file types
  • You have a very low budget and would rather have a subscription-based service

FAQ

Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery professional, who has been with 7datarecovery for nine years and has always been an essential part of the team. Jeff also works as a technical writer at Macgasm, being a first hand in testing, trying and writing about big and small tech software.
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Strong knowledge in data recovery, computer forensic and data litigation. 12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.