Updated 23 January. 2023

Recovering PDF files on Windows and Mac

PDF recovery

Best 5 data recovery software for PDF, Portable Document Format File

Disk Drill
Free version, Pro version $89
Free recovery: Free recovery - 500 MB for Windows
Download
rateDisk Drill
666762
R-STUDIO
R-Studio FAT $49.99, R-Studio NTFS $59.99, R-Studio $79.99, Network $179.99, Technician $899.99
Free recovery: No free version
Download
rateR-STUDIO
57624
Pixel8
Free, Premium $99
Free recovery: Free Trial
Download
ratePixel8
513
Leawo
Free Trial, Pro $69.99
Free recovery: Free scan
Download
rateLeawo
27262
MiniTool
Free, Personal $79, Commercial $199, Enterprise $399, Technician $499
Free recovery: Free recovery - 1MB
Download
rateMiniTool
424233

Summary review

windows icon Our Windows version Windows 10
time icon How long we tested 1 week
exam icon Number of tested tools 11

3 things to consider when choosing PDF recovery software

Free version with data recovery

A lot of data recovery solutions out there offer a free trial that only gets you as far as previewing recoverable files. Once you attempt to retrieve them, you’ll get hit with a message asking you to purchase the full version. Check if the software has a free version that allows actual recovery.

Wide file type support

Whether it’s pictures, documents, audio, or file types, it’s a good idea to select a recovery program that supports the retrieval of a wide range of file extensions. Once you’re done recovering your files this time around, you may need to use the program again in the future for a different file type.

File preview

There’s a good chance that when you attempt to recover files from a particular storage medium, there will be a whole lot of recoverable files to sift through on the results page. That’s why it helps if the program is equipped with a preview feature that allows you to get a glimpse of a file before recovering it.

Simple steps to recover deleted PDF, Portable Document Format File on Windows & Mac

Step 1:

Download the program to your Windows or macOS laptop and install it

Step 2:

Start the app and choose the disk that contained the deleted files

Step 3:

Click Recover to scan the disk for recoverable data

Step 4:

Click Recover again after selecting the files that you wish to restore from the preview display

Top 3 tips to prevent PDF files loss

1 Tip

Create an image at the first sign of storage failure. If you notice that your storage device is starting to fail, you should immediately create a backup image of the medium so that you can attempt data recovery later. That way, you can preserve whatever information is currently on the drive before it incurs further data loss.

2 Tip

Keep work and leisure separate. It’s always a good idea to have a separate computer/laptop for work and general use. If you keep installing and uninstalling programs on a machine, it will hasten the rate at which the operating system might break down. And when it finally does become unstable, you could lose some important data in the process.

3 Tip

Do routine maintenance on your computer/laptop. Neglecting your computer or laptop can lead to dust build-up, ventilation issues, and other hardware pitfalls. In turn, this could cause your device to abruptly fail, resulting in data loss. So make sure to always perform regular maintenance on your machine to ensure that it stays in tip-top shape.

FAQ

Backups are the easiest way to recover PDF files that were saved over. Windows machines also have a built-in feature that allows you to retrieve older versions of X files, as long as you enabled the tool before the overwriting occurred. Mac has a similar feature called Time Machine. Alternatively, you can use Windows System Restore to return your PC to a previous point in time, but you’d need to have created a backup prior.

On Windows PCs,PDF files that weren’t permanently deleted using the Shift + Delete command can be found and restored from the Recycle Bin tool. For Macs, all deleted X files are sent to the Trash first, so you can get them back from there. Otherwise, you can use Windows File History if you enabled it before the deletion or the Mac Timeline feature.

For Windows, if you deleted the PDF file using the Delete key or right-click > Delete command, then you should be able to find it in the Recycle Bin. On Mac, deleted X files are moved to the Trash before being deleted permanently. If your file is not present in either of these tools, you’ll need to utilize a free data recovery program.