Best Data Recovery Software: Not Everything Deleted Is Lost

By Damjan Jugović Spajić August 16, 2021

We’ve all accidentally deleted an important document at one time or another. In some cases, you can easily recover the deleted file from the Recycle Bin through the ‘Restore’ option. But what happens when the file isn’t in the bin – deleted or corrupted as a result of a software glitch or hardware failure? That’s when you need to get your hands on the best data recovery software money can buy. Here are 5 that are dominating the market right now.

5 Best File Recovery Software Solutions

  • Variety of file types and systems supported
  • Comprehensive free plan
  • Intuitive interface
  • Slow
Price $69.95/mo
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  • Optical media recovery
  • RAID restoration
  • Quick scanning
  • Expensive
Price $79.99/year
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  • New Windows version
  • Wide variety of file types
  • Fast
  • Pricey
Price $89
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  • 96% restore success rate
  • Over 1,000 file types
  • Easy to use
  • Lackluster free plan
Price $69.99/year
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  • Stop/resume scan at a later date
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Variety of Windows and macOS file systems
  • Very expensive
Price $79/year
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What is Data Recovery Software?

The software is designed to recover deleted files from different mediums, be it hard drives/SSDs, USB flash drives, or external drives. Data recovery software is best used in conjunction with data loss prevention tools and file backup services that safely store your files on separate, secure servers or on the cloud. Losing files can have catastrophic consequences for both individuals and businesses. Whether you’re storing pictures, music, contacts, Ph.D. research, or critical business information and customer data, you don’t want to be caught off-guard for hard drive failures, viruses, and accidental deletion.

Can Data Recovery Software Restore Files from an SSD?

As most users transition from platter drives to solid-state ones, a lot of people are on the lookout for the best SSD data recovery software. SSDs are much faster and more reliable than older HDDs, and most newer configurations come with an SSD at least for housing the operating system installation.

But the extent to which data recovery software can actually salvage files from an SSD is still up for debate. Most recovery tools market themselves as having this ability, but that doesn’t give you the whole picture. The truth is that it’s a lot harder to successfully recover data from this type of drive. This is due to the fact that SSDs use TRIM technology which boosts drive efficiency by internally clearing disk sectors that are not in use.

This is different from HDDs which usually just delete the system reference to the file until that space is taken up by a new file. As such, even the top SSD data recovery software can have issues saving files from an SSD if the TRIM technology is in use. The sad truth is that contemporary consumer-level tools aren’t fully capable of restoring data from SSDs, but some tools are better at it than others.

1. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

" Best for RAW file system recovery "

  • File types
    Photographs, documents, videos, emails, database files, graphics, and miscellaneous
  • File systems
    FAT, exFAT, NTFS, NTFS5 HFS+, ext2/ext3, ReFS
  • Storage mediums
    HDD, SSD, smartphones, SD cards, USB
  • Free plan
    Up to 2GB of data
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Slow

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Variety of file types and systems supported
  • Comprehensive free plan
  • Intuitive interface
  • Slow

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Variety of file types and systems supported
  • Comprehensive free plan
  • Intuitive interface
  • Slow
  • File types
    Photographs, documents, videos, emails, database files, graphics, and miscellaneous
  • File systems
    FAT, exFAT, NTFS, NTFS5 HFS+, ext2/ext3, ReFS
  • Storage mediums
    HDD, SSD, smartphones, SD cards, USB
  • Free plan
    Up to 2GB of data
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Slow

EaseUS unveiled its first data recovery tool in 2005. Since then, the Chinese company’s software has become one of the go-to solutions for quick and easy file restoration.  EaseUS offers specialized versions of their software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. While its many features make it one of the best data recovery software for Windows, the Data Recovery Wizard is among the pricier options on the market.

Features

The EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard comes in four different versions: Mac, Windows, Android, and iPhone. The software is capable of restoring files lost under different circumstances. First of all, EaseUS can easily help you restore files you’ve accidentally deleted, whether they’re in the Recycle Bin or not.

Data lost during hard drive formatting is also recoverable, as well as files found on lost drive partitions. EaseUS’ standout feature, which places it among the best data recovery software for Windows 10, is the ability to recover RAW partitions. These are partitions that become unrecognizable by Windows, but the Data Recovery Wizard can easily restore access to them. On top of that, the software can repair crashed RAID setups, a feature that typically costs a lot of money.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard works on practically all mediums – HDD recovery, SSDs, external drives, SD cards, and USB sticks. The file recovery process is straightforward. Once you fire up the software, you’ll be greeted with a list of connected drives and available partitions (and lost ones as well). Like with most of the best hard drive data recovery software, you can then initiate scans of any particular drive or partition.

Unfortunately, EaseUS is far from being the fastest recovery tool, taking more than 10 minutes to scan anything larger than 10GB. Thankfully, even during scanning, you can see files that are uncovered in real-time. For each file, you can see the type, the modification date, size, and sometimes the name. In general, we found the interface to be very user-friendly, with pleasant visuals.

Plans and Pricing

EaseUS has an overtly complex pricing structure. It’ll take some time just to get a grip on all the pricing tiers. But the company offers some of the best free data recovery software for each type of device. Unfortunately,  for Windows and Mac, you’re limited to 2GB of data, while you can restore up to five contacts and one video on smartphones.

The pricing for paid plans is as follows:

  • Data Recovery Pro Windows – $69.95/month or $149.95 for a lifetime license
  • Data Recovery Pro Mac – $89.95/month or $169.95 for a lifetime license
  • Data Recovery Technician Windows (for service providers) –  $299 or $499 for a lifetime license
  • Data Recovery Technician Mac –  $299 or $499 for a lifetime license
  • MobiSaver Windows/Android – $39.95/month
  • MobiSaver Mac/iOS – $79.95/month or $499 for unlimited Macs

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best professional data recovery software, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard should be at the top of your list. With a multitude of features and various pricing plans for separate devices, you’re sure to find everything you need to recover those precious files. Just keep an eye on the steep prices and somewhat slow scanning process.

2. Stellar Data Recovery Review

" Best for Macs "

  • File types
    Audio, image, email, database, video, documents, archive, PDF, other
  • File systems
    Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, NTFS, FAT, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, HFS, HFS+, and APFS
  • Storage mediums
    HDD, SSD, optical drives, 4K drives, USB, SD card
  • Free plan
    Up to 1GB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Good

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Optical media recovery
  • RAID restoration
  • Quick scanning
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Optical media recovery
  • RAID restoration
  • Quick scanning
  • Expensive
  • File types
    Audio, image, email, database, video, documents, archive, PDF, other
  • File systems
    Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, NTFS, FAT, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, HFS, HFS+, and APFS
  • Storage mediums
    HDD, SSD, optical drives, 4K drives, USB, SD card
  • Free plan
    Up to 1GB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Good

The next recovery program on our list is Stellar Data Recovery. This data recovery tool is capable of retrieving any file from the precipice of oblivion, regardless of how it ended up there. Stellar works on both Windows and Mac devices but can restore data from all sorts of mediums, as well as recover corrupted photos and video.

Features

One of the hallmarks of the best Windows 10 data recovery software is support for a multitude of formats and file systems. Stellar Data definitely checks this box. It’s able to restore files from SSDs, hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, as well as CDs and DVDs. The data recovery program also supports 4K drives.

On top of that, it can save files from non-bootable, BitLocker encrypted drives as well as virtual and RAID drives. The Mac version of Stellar Data Recovery introduces a few specialized features for Apple devices. These have the ability to restore deleted/formatted backup files from Time Machine drives and can salvage files from a crashed Mac.

Even the best SSD data recovery software wouldn’t be of much use if it wasn’t able to restore a variety of file types. Fortunately, Stellar Data Recovery has no such issues and is able to restore photographs, videos, documents, PDF files, Microsoft Office files, emails, and more.

We really liked Stellar’s interface. The UI is incredibly simple, which makes for an incredibly easy file recovery process. The software’s dashboard allows you to choose the types of files you want to recover. After you’ve chosen the file types and clicked ‘Next’, you’ll be presented with available partitions, drives, and locations to recover data from. Mark the locations you want scanned, click Scan, and wait for Stellar to do its part.

Stellar’s Quick Scan is on par with some of the best data recovery software on the market, taking mere minutes to complete the scan in this mode. On the other hand, Deep Scans can take more than 10 hours.

Plans and Pricing

The Stellar drive recovery software comes in Windows and Mac versions, and both have a free tier. However, as is usually the case, they limit the amount of data you can restore. In Stellar’s case, it’s 1GB.

There are three paid plans: Professional ($79.99/year), Premium ($99.99/year), and Technician ($149 for Mac, $199 for Windows, per year). All of the best file recovery software plans allow for unlimited file recovery, support for all types of media recovery, including lost partitions and disk image creation. The Premium plan adds the option to restore corrupted videos and photos, as well as image thumbnail extraction. The Technician plan has the same features as Premium but offers three licenses instead of one.

Final Thoughts

Similar to EaseUS, Stellar’s data recovery tool is extremely powerful but pricey. While both companies boast feature-rich programs across all their paid plans, Stellar does cover more file types and has better scanning speeds.

3. CleverFiles Disk Drill

" Best for quick scanning "

  • File types
    Video, audio, image, documents, archives, other
  • File systems
    APFS, HFS, HFS+, NTFS, NTFS5, FAT, FAT32, exFAT, EXT3, EXT4
  • Storage mediums
    Internal/external HDD, SSDs, memory cards, smartphones, and digital cameras
  • Free plan
    Up to 500MB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Good

Things we liked / disliked:

  • New Windows version
  • Wide variety of file types
  • Fast
  • Pricey

Things we liked / disliked:

  • New Windows version
  • Wide variety of file types
  • Fast
  • Pricey
  • File types
    Video, audio, image, documents, archives, other
  • File systems
    APFS, HFS, HFS+, NTFS, NTFS5, FAT, FAT32, exFAT, EXT3, EXT4
  • Storage mediums
    Internal/external HDD, SSDs, memory cards, smartphones, and digital cameras
  • Free plan
    Up to 500MB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Good

Until recently, Disk Drill would only make the best Mac data recovery software lists. However, CleverFiles decided to release a Windows version, giving PC users a chance to try out this disk data recovery program. Like its competitors, Disk Drill also offers a limited free version next to its paid ones. While the software is perfectly capable of retrieving files lost in practically any scenario, be prepared to shell out a considerable amount of money for the paid PRO edition.

Features

CleverFiles Disk Drill comes with the usual bag of tricks you’ve come to expect from the best PC data recovery software. But the Windows version is somewhat inferior in terms of features when compared to the Mac one. The company advertises the software as being able to recover files from internal/external hard drives, SSDs, memory cards, smartphones, and digital cameras. The Disk Drill website also contains information about the brands of aforementioned storage units the software works with, so make sure to check that list before committing to a purchase.

The supported file type list is equally impressive. You can resurrect a huge variety of audio, video, image, and document files, as well as archive extensions and various other types such as SQL and OTF.

While no one would call Disk Drill the best Android data recovery software, it’s able to restore files on smartphones, including iPhones. However, this feature is, for now, only available in the Mac version of the software.

The data rescue process is made considerably easier by Disk Drill’s powerful filtering tools. You can search the restorable files by type, size, date, as well as check out reconstructed files. In addition to simply restoring accidentally deleted files, Disk Drill saves files from emptied Recycle Bins, crashed hard drives, files damaged/deleted by viruses, lost partitions, data from corrupt memory cards, and RAW file systems.

Whether you’re looking for the best data recovery software for an external hard drive, smartphone, or SD card, scanning and restoration speed is paramount. You’ll be glad to hear that Disk Drill is one of the fastest hard disk recovery tools we came across, scanning around 3GBs per minute.

Plans and Pricing

There are three pricing tiers on offer here. The first one is free, which lets you restore up to 500MB and provides free data protection via the Recovery Vault.

PRO costs $89 (+$29 for lifetime upgrades) and is designed for a single user on up to three activations. It allows for unlimited file recovery, with full file type/medium restoration capabilities included.

Lastly, if you want the best recovery data software that this developer has to offer, you can go with Enterprise, which will set you back $499 (+$99 for lifetime upgrades) and is meant for 10 users with unlimited activations. It also gives you access to priority customer support.

Final Thoughts

There are only two notable downsides to CleverFiles’ software. The first one is the price of $89 for the basic package, which is higher than what most of the competitors charge. The other drawback concerns the Windows version of the program, which is more rudimentary than the Mac one, but that will hopefully change in the future.

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4. Wondershare Recoverit

" Best for SSD file recovery "

  • File types
    Document, image, video, audio, email, archives
  • File systems
    FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, APFS
  • Storage mediums
    HDD, memory card, SSD, USB, digital camera
  • Free plan
    Up to 100MB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Adequate

Things we liked / disliked:

  • 96% restore success rate
  • Over 1,000 file types
  • Easy to use
  • Lackluster free plan

Things we liked / disliked:

  • 96% restore success rate
  • Over 1,000 file types
  • Easy to use
  • Lackluster free plan
  • File types
    Document, image, video, audio, email, archives
  • File systems
    FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, APFS
  • Storage mediums
    HDD, memory card, SSD, USB, digital camera
  • Free plan
    Up to 100MB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Adequate

Wondershare’s Recoverit is regularly grouped among the best iPhone data recovery software solutions and capable of restoring files on both Windows and Mac. The Recoverit data recovery tool is capable of restoring many different file types and has some of the best recovery rates in the industry. Since its founding in 2003, Recoverit established a reputation as a trustworthy and effective data-saving solution.

Features

The program can go toe-to-toe with any of the best data recovery software we’ve reviewed here when it comes to file-type support. Recoverit can restore over 1,000 different file formats.

Additionally, this tool can restore data from virtually any medium, including external and internal drives, memory cards, smartphones, USB flash drives, and digital cameras. However, it’s worth noting that most data recovery services, including Recoverit, market themselves as being capable of restoring files from SSDs. This isn’t entirely true due to the architecture of these drives, but Recoverit does as good a job as anyone can do.

Moreover, Recoverit has the best recovery rate among the best buy data recovery software – a whopping 96% for both macOS and Windows.

Most recovery software now use a simple three-step method for restoring files: choose file types, choose partition/location/storage, and scan. Recoverit doesn’t stray from this effective model, and there’s no reason it should, as it’s extremely simple and intuitive. However, the in-app interface could be more user-friendly.

Plans and Pricing

Recoverit has one free plan and three paid plans on offer. However, the free plan is highly limited in terms of the amount of data you can recover. While most companies let you salvage between 500MB and 1GB, Wondershare Recoverit gives you a mere 100MB – an almost insultingly small amount. If you’re looking for the best data recovery software for Mac that’s free, you should look elsewhere.

Here’s a breakdown of the paid plans:

  • Essential – $69.99 per year for Windows and $79.95 per year for Mac. It comes with full restoration capabilities, including Deep Scan and file preview.
  • Standard – $79.99 per year for Windows and $99.95 per year for Mac. It adds a bootable USB/disk creation and can recover data from crashed PC/Mac.
  • Advanced – $99.99 per year for Windows, $119.95 per year for Mac. The plan includes various corrupt video recovery capabilities.

Final Thoughts

Wondershare Recoverit is widely regarded as one of the best data recovery software solutions. Covering practically all file types, file systems, and storage devices, you’d be hard-pressed to find something it can’t restore. However, it’s somewhat expensive, with its most affordable plan costing just under $70 for Windows and nearly $80 for Mac. In addition, the free plan is extremely limited, and the interface is a little confusing. Other than that, there are no real downsides to this hard drive and SD card recovery software.

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5. Ontrack EasyRecovery

" Best for beginners "

  • File types
    Document, audio, video, photograph, spreadsheet, other
  • File systems
    FAT, NTFS, exFAT, HFS, HFS+, APFS
  • Storage mediums
    Hard drives, SSDs, USB flash drives, and optical media
  • Free plan
    Up to 1GB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Decent

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Stop/resume scan at a later date
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Variety of Windows and macOS file systems
  • Very expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Stop/resume scan at a later date
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Variety of Windows and macOS file systems
  • Very expensive
  • File types
    Document, audio, video, photograph, spreadsheet, other
  • File systems
    FAT, NTFS, exFAT, HFS, HFS+, APFS
  • Storage mediums
    Hard drives, SSDs, USB flash drives, and optical media
  • Free plan
    Up to 1GB
  • File preview
    Yes
  • Scanning speed
    Decent

Ontrack’s engineering team is built on more than three decades of experience and works across 18 global laboratories. But this level of expertise is typically reserved for companies and people with deep pockets. Luckily for regular consumers, Ontrack’s DIY recovery tool is one of the best Windows 10 data recovery software options around.

Features

The company behind the software has been in the file recovery business for 35 years. Their experience is evident in the transparent and simple manner in which the software’s features are laid out.

So what kind of storage devices is this recovery tool compatible with? There are no big surprises here. Ontrack EasyRecovery can restore files from hard drives, SSDs, USB flash drives, and optical media such as CDs and DVDs. But this isn’t the best data recovery software for Android or iPhone as smartphones are omitted from the list and so are SD cards and digital camera restoration.

The software is capable of restoring or rebuilding lost partitions in multiple different file systems. For Windows, these are FAT, exFAT, and NTFS, as well as HFS, HFS+, and APFS for Mac.

There are two scanning modes at your disposal: Quick Scan and Deep Scan. EasyRecovery is CPU intensive, so make sure you’re not running other resource-thirsty applications. On average, the deep scan will go through around 100GB per hour with this data recovery software. It’s not the best time, but it’s on par with most of its industry counterparts. If you’ve got 1TB or more data to sift through, expect the software to run for most of the day.

One of the features we liked was the option to stop and resume scans at your convenience. Because of the aforementioned resource usage, you’re not able to get any significant work done on the device while the software is running. Hence, the ability to stop the scan and resume it later is invaluable.

Pricing and Plans

There are six different data and disk recovery plans to choose from here. Before your head starts spinning, we should point out that one of those is a free tier, while the two priciest options are enterprise-level solutions.

Is the first tier the best free data recovery software for Mac and Windows? Probably not, but it’s a decent tester for the software, as it allows you to restore up to 1GB of files for free.

  • The Home version ($79/year for Windows and $85/year for Mac) lets you recover trashed and deleted files, as well as restore data from virus-infected drives.
  • Professional ($109/year for Windows and $129/year for Mac) includes hard drive health monitoring, disk image creation, and CD/DVD data recovery.
  • Premium ($149/year for Windows and $159/year for Mac) enables you to repair corrupt videos and photos, as well as clone HDDs and SSDs.
  • Technician ($299, 3 x one-year license) includes RAID recovery and virtual RAID volumes support.
  • Toolkit ($499, 3 x one-year license) works on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Final Thoughts

Ontrack EasyRecovery has all the makings of the best file recovery software. It’s quick, easy to use, lightweight, and there are many plans to choose from. However, we would have liked to see support for an SD card and smartphone data recovery.

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How We Pick Out Top Data Recovery Software

As our reliance on electronic storage grows, so does the risk of losing extremely important data. That risk increased as HDDs got old, which prompted the development of hard drive recovery software. Over time, this type of program became more powerful and gained better capabilities, including better file type/medium recovery features.

However, there are dozens of deleted file recovery options out there, making it difficult to pick one. If you’re having trouble picking out the best recovery software, here are some of the most important metrics and features to watch out for. Do note that data recovery programs can’t salvage files lost to ransomware; you’ll need specialized software for that.

File Type Support

The first thing you need to look at when assessing the capabilities of file recovery software is the scope of supported file formats, as there are many different file types you may want to recover.

The simplest ones are pictures, audio files, and documents. You can safely assume that nearly all data-saving solutions can recover those file types. However, these are only some of the types you may need to recover. More advanced solutions can recover various document types, contacts, emails, phone call/contact histories, videos, executables, as well as numerous specialized software-specific items.

Whether you’re looking for the best free or paid data recovery software, make sure to check if it can even recover the specific file type you’re after or the type of file you deal with on a regular basis.

File System Support

Next to file types, another important thing to factor in is the disk recovery software’s support for different file systems. File systems define the way in which a drive is organized. This includes the way the data is stored, organized, and retrieved from the device. You’ve surely come across some of them – FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS, for example.

The reason why they’re important is that not all data recovery programs can restore files from every file system. Hence, those looking for the best Mac data recovery software will want the program to work with APFS, while different file systems will be present with various USBs, hard drives, and so on.

Speed and Performance

Depending on when the file was deleted, it may take the recovery program some time to dig it up. Still, no one wants to spend hours in front of the scanning screen waiting for that one file to pop up. As such, one of the things we take into account in our reviews is the speed at which the software scans selected drives and how much time it needs to actually restore the files. Whether we’re comparing the best data recovery software for Mac, Windows, or phones, scanning and restoring speeds are some of the most important metrics we look at.

Interface and User-Friendliness

When you want to recover files from a hard drive or a USB stick, few things can make the process as frustrating as an overly complicated interface. Restoring lost data shouldn’t require you to be an IT expert. Data recovery programs need to be accessible and easy to use, as spending long hours deciphering how the software works defeats its purpose.

Besides general ease of use, we expect the best-rated data recovery software to come with quality of life features like easy filtering, file preview, and quick scans.

Pricing

Lastly, we have pricing. The product’s price naturally plays a huge part in any purchasing decision, and data recovery tools are no different. The pricing for this type of software can vary greatly. Some companies charge between $20 and $40 for a one-year license, while others may charge between $50 and $60 for a lifetime one.

There are also significant cost differences between personal and professional solutions, as data recovery for service providers can cost several hundred dollars for a single license.

Additionally, some of the best data recovery software have free solutions. However, these are usually limited when it comes to the amount of data you can recover or how far back you can dig.

FAQ

What is the best data recovery software?

While each data recovery solution has its strong points, we found EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and Wondershare Recoverit to be the most feature-rich and well-rounded programs on the market.

What is better than Recuva?

For those looking for a great Recuva alternative, Wondershare’s Recoverit could be an ideal solution. The program can recover more than 1,000 file types from every medium, meaning you can probably salvage any type of file you’re looking for.

What is the best external hard drive recovery software?

Practically any program that works well with internal HDDs should be as effective with external hard drives. Our recommendations are Ontrack EasyRecovery and EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

Which is the best data recovery software for free?

For users on a budget who need to recover files, we’d recommend Recuva or Disk Drill’s free option.

Where do permanently deleted files go?

Once a file has been moved from the Recycle Bin, the data isn’t actually lost – not right away, at least. Instead, the computer just removes the reference to it and cannot see it anymore. The ‘deleted’ file will remain on the drive until another file takes its space on the storage device.

What data recovery software do professionals use?

Besides using enterprise packages from software like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and Wondershare Recoverit, professionals also use expensive laboratory data recovery services.

How much does it cost to recover data from a hard drive?

In case the best data recovery software, which costs $60 to $100 per year, isn’t capable of salvaging your files, you can turn to professional file recovery services. However, these can cost from $100 to $500+ per drive, so use them only when you’re trying to restore something really important.