Updated 16 September. 2022

Get PDF files back in Windows and macOS

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
Download
rateDisk Drill
666762
ParetoLogic Data Recovery Pro
Paid $49.97
Free recovery: No free version
Download
rateParetoLogic Data Recovery Pro
15014
GetData
Free, Standard $69.95 , Professional $99.95, Technician $349.90
Free recovery: Free scan & preview
Download
rateGetData
109918
Boomerang
Free, Home Edition $69.95, SMB Edition $ 99.95, Pro Edition $ 129.95
Free recovery: Free scan
Download
rateBoomerang
106
Stellar
Free, Professional $79.99, Premium $99.99, Technician $199
Free recovery: Free scan & preview
Download
rateStellar
484261

Summary review

windows icon Our Windows version Windows 11
time icon How long we tested 4 weeks
exam icon Number of tested tools 18

Top 3 factors 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.

Price tag

While there are a few genuinely free data recovery programs out there and some with a decent trial version, they’re often either overly complex, ineffective, or have recovery limits. So if you’re willing to invest, you should find a program that fits your price range. Also, consider whether you’d prefer a program with subscriptions or a one-time payment.

Operating system availability

Data loss can occur on any operating system but not all data recovery programs support multiple platforms. Make sure the app you choose is fully compatible with the OS you run or, at least, has a version for that platform particularly. Certain programs even allow the recovery of storage media formatted for a different operating system entirely.

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

Step 1:

Install the software on a Windows or Mac computer

Step 2:

Launch the app and select the disk on which recovery will be performed

Step 3:

The Recover button starts the scanning process to discover deleted files

Step 4:

Preview the recoverable files and hit Recover again after selcting those to be restored

3 PDF loss prevention tips

1 Tip

Invest in a surge protector. A major power surge can do heavy damage to your computer. A strong enough one could fry the components in your computer, taking all of your important files along with it. So if you live in an area with unpredictable electric currents, spending some money on a surge protector can be a lifesaver.

2 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.

3 Tip

Password protect your machine. If you live in a household with multiple people, then it’s a good idea to put a strong password on your computer or laptop. You never know when a child or another unauthorized person might try to make their way into your machine and fiddle with your files. Better safe than sorry.

FAQ

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.

The best way to recover PDF files from a memory card is to leverage a top-notch data recovery program, as it’s the most flexible and accessible retrieval method around. It’s worth noting, however, that this is ineffective if you used a “full” format on the card or it has become heavily damaged/compromised. For that, you’ll need to seek out a data recovery service.

If you find that PDF files are randomly being deleted from your computer, it’s a good indication that your hard drive is failing. In these cases, it’s a good idea to make a backup image of the drive to avoid further data loss. Another reason is that your computer has been infected by a virus or some form of malware.