Best Data Recovery Software for PCs

In trying to keep your Windows PC clean, it's easy for you (or your cleaning software) to get overzealous. Sooner or later, you're going to delete something you meant to keep, and salvaging data from beyond the Recycle Bin can be a challenge.

That wayward file is not necessarily gone forever, though. Windows machines do not permanently erase data until new files overwrite the space on the hard drive allotted for deleted ones. So if your deletion was recent, you stand an excellent chance of recovering your files. The easiest solution is to arm yourself with data recovery software.

TopTenREVIEWS, a sister site to Tom's Guide, reviewed the 10 best data recovery programs and found the top three. Before you panic, see if one of these programs can help you out.

Stellar Phoenix (opens in new tab)
Stellar Phoenix
R-Studio (opens in new tab)
Data Rescue PC (opens in new tab)
Data Rescue PC

Additional Considerations

Help and Support

While data recovery programs are fairly self-explanatory, the process can be a tricky business, and it's good to have a resource if things go wrong (well, wrong-er). The best companies will have tech support available by phone — 24/7, if possible, as the odds of your big data emergency happening during normal business hours are slim. If not, see if the company offers live chat, email addresses, website query forms or active social media pages.

Recovery from Unbootable Drives

If you lose data due to a virus, hard drive corruption or good, old-fashioned gremlins, you may not be able to launch Windows at all. In that case, you'll have to hook up your hard drive to another machine and try to recover files secondhand. Most data recovery software offers this feature, but some charge extra for it, so be sure to research this functionality before purchasing a program.

Bottom Line

Data recovery software can be an invaluable tool, whether you're dealing with accidental deletions, hard drive reformatting or the results of a virus. You can count on these robust tools to save those important files from oblivion.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • WyomingKnott
    13232367 said:
    This has to be the worst spam thread I have seen so far.
    When I find these kinds of threads that are just being necroed by spam, I close them outright.

    It's pretty common for data recovery or moving iphone pictures. And my old buddies Kernel Data Recovery are always willing to give a hand.

    are my go-to links for real questions about disk recovery software.
  • gamesturbator
    " salvaging data from beyond the Recycle Bin can be a challenge." Really? You mean clicking restore files is a challenge? Who writes this crap? It's the stuff that is no longer in the recycle bin that is a challenge to recover.
  • gamesturbator
    Ah, I need glasses. Missed the part about "beyond the recycle bin". Looks like I'm today's Village Idiot. (???)