10 Best Data Recovery Software for Mac in 2021

Mac data recovery software can save the day when you accidentally delete the wrong file, format the wrong storage device, or experience some other form of logical data loss, and this article introduces the best solutions currently available.

It doesn’t matter how careful you are or how robust your backup strategy is—you’re never completely safe from data loss. The good news is that the best data recovery software for Mac OS X makes it possible to recover from most data loss situations without any advanced skills or specialized equipment. The only part that’s difficult is knowing which software solutions are actually the best, and our ranking is here to help.

How to Find the Best Data Recovery Software for Mac

Finding the best data recovery software for Mac is difficult for three main reasons:

  1. There’s a lot of software available in the market.
  2. Most of what’s available isn’t worth your time and money.
  3. Some online reviews are fake or strongly biased.

The last point explains why it’s common to see one review site praise a data recovery software application and then see another review site give the same application the lowest rating possible.

You could, of course, download dozens of file recovery tools and test them yourself, but that would be extremely time-consuming—not to mention that you should always strive to recover your data on the first try. Experimenting with dubious software while missing important files could have disastrous consequences.

We believe that the best way to find reliable data recovery software for Mac is to read an unbiased comparison such as this one and use your judgment to decide which application can meet your own needs the best.

Here are some of the criteria we take into consideration when comparing available solutions:

  • Data recovery performance
  • macOS compatibility
  • Ease of use
  • Extra features
  • Price
  • Customer support

The result of our extensive research is a ranked list of the best data recovery software for Mac, with the pros and cons of each application.

What Are the Chances to Recover Lost Data on Mac

The best data recovery software for Mac can save the day when the situation seems utterly desperate, but it can’t address every single data loss situation that you may experience.

When data recovery software can help:

  • User error – Even experienced users make mistakes, and their mistakes sometimes lead to data loss. If addressed soon enough, data loss caused by a user error can often be solved with just a couple of clicks.
  • Formatting – It’s likely that formatting is the most destructive operation commonly performed by regular users. Its results are, fortunately, far less permanent than they seem because formatted storage devices are seldom overwritten during the formatting process.
  • Data corruption – Software bugs, malware, and sudden loss of power are just three of many causes of data corruption. Unless the corruption is extensive, affected files can often be recovered using capable data recovery software.
  • Changed file attributes – Some strains of malware are designed to mess with file attributes to make files seem as if they were deleted, and the same thing can happen because of a user error. The best data recovery software applications are not confused by changed file attributes and can see hidden files without any problems.
  • File system failure – Modern file systems are resilient but not perfect. A partial storage device failure, such as when a bunch of sectors on a hard drive become unreadable, can lead to file system failure, which may cause your Mac to not boot properly. Fortunately, a professional data recovery app can address even this seemingly hopeless scenario.

When it’s impossible to recover data using software:

  • Physical damage – When your hard drive looks like it was the star of a Hydraulic Press Channel video, you can forget about using data recovery software to get your data back. In fact, even a single faulty electronic component or a broken connector makes it impossible to recover data using software until the damage has been repaired—something only professionals should attempt to do.
  • SSDs with TRIM enabled – Modern Macs with SSDs take advantage of the TRIM command to increase performance when performing write operations by not preserving any content that’s not considered to be necessary by the operating system, such as deleted files. In other words, a file deleted from a TRIM-enabled SSD physically disappears from the drive, making its recovery impossible. The copy-on-write feature of the APFS file system makes the situation a little bit less hopeless, but you should still keep your expectations low when recovering a TRIM-enabled SSD.
  • Storage device not recognized – Data recovery software can’t recover any storage device that your Mac is unable to communicate with. As a rule of thumb, if you can see your storage device in Disk Utility, then it can be recovered using data recovery software. If not, then you’re out of luck.
  • Lost decryption key – The purpose of encryption is to make stored data unreadable without entering the correct decryption key first. If you no longer remember your decryption key and have no way of recovering it, then your data recovery software won’t find lost files because it will only see encrypted data.

NOTE: Generally, lost data can be recovered for as long as they are physically present on the storage device (=not overwritten) and the storage device itself is in good working order. To increase your data recovery chances, minimize the use of the affected storage device and use the best recovery software available. For more information, read our detailed guide on how to recover deleted files on Mac.

Best Data Recovery Software for Mac in 2021

After testing dozens of data recovery software for Mac, we were able to narrow them down to just 10 top applications, and here’s the final list.

choice #1
Disk Drill for Mac
  • User reviews

Disk Drill Data Recovery for Mac is easily our favorite file recovery software for Mac because it blends usability with impressive data recovery capabilities, something both regular home users and IT professionals can appreciate.

The latest version of Disk Drill for Mac is fully compatible with M1 Macs, and it can recognize over 300 file types, including documents, images, audio files, videos, and archives. Many recoverable files can be previewed directly inside the app, so selecting the right files for recovery is easy.

Bundled with Disk Drill for Mac is an entire collection of useful tools whose shared purpose is to help users better manage their data and prevent its loss. For example, there’s a disk health monitoring, byte-to-byte backup utility, duplicate finder, and even a disk space analyzer.

Disk Drill Data Recovery for Mac
Disk Drill Data Recovery for Mac

Besides Mac hard drives and various external storage devices, Disk Drill for Mac can recover iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, making it exceptionally versatile.

Pros and Cons

  • Modern user interface
  • Impressive data recovery capabilities
  • Extra free tools
  • M1 Mac compatibility
  • macOS Monterey compatibility
  • iOS and Android recovery
  • The free version can only preview recoverable files

Download for free ->

choice #2
DiskWarrior
  • Not Enough Ratings

DiskWarrior describes itself as the most advanced repair and data recovery tool, and we agree with at least the first half of the statement. Its bread and butter is the reconstruction of damaged directories that cause error messages such as “Invalid node structure” and “Keys out of order.”

With a simple click, DiskWarrior can rebuild the entire directory and make inaccessible files accessible again by fixing issues with file paths, permissions, invalid plists, and more. Its data recovery capabilities are somewhat less impressive, which is understandable considering that it focuses on file system repair and optimization.

DiskWarrior
DiskWarrior

What can’t be easily excused, however, is the fact that it doesn’t support Apple File System (APFS) disks. That’s bad news because APFS is the default file system of all modern Macs. Hopefully, Alsoft, the developers of this Mac recovery software, will add APFS support soon.

Pros and Cons

  • One-click disk optimization
  • Fixes common error messages
  • Improves disk performance
  • Doesn’t support APFS disks
  • Weaker data recovery capabilities
choice #3
R-Studio for Mac
  • Not Enough Ratings

R-Studio for Mac is powerful data recovery software that can recover files from APFS, HFS+, HFS, FAT, NTFS, ReFS, UFS1/UFS2, and Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 partitions. The latest version supports Mac with Apple’s M1 chip, but it also runs on older Macs with Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 processors.

Aimed at more advanced users and data recovery professionals, R-Studio for Mac has a number of features that regular home users are unlikely to appreciate. A good example is the built-in hex editor, which can be used to view the binary data that constitutes computer files. R-Studio for Mac can also recover files over a network or from damaged RAID arrays, create disk images, and display the S.M.A.R.T. status of a storage device.

R-Studio for Mac
R-Studio for Mac

All these capabilities don’t come cheap, though. The version that supports network recovery costs $179.99, which is twice as much as most competing software. Fortunately, there’s a more affordable version that has fewer features, so you can choose the one that best meets your needs.

Pros and Cons

  • Advanced features
  • Extensive file system support
  • Network recovery
  • Damaged RAID recovery
  • Complicated to use
choice #4
Data Rescue for Mac
  • Not Enough Ratings

If you have an older Mac and are looking for an easy-to-use Mac data recovery software, then Data Rescue for Mac isn’t a bad choice at all. The application is compatible with all Intel-based Macs running macOS 10.15 Catalina and older (up to macOS 10.12).

When you launch the application, you’re presented with the main window showing just four options. The first two options let you start recovering files and view previous scan results, the third option allows you to duplicate a potentially failing drive, and the last option lets you create a recovery drive so you can safely recover files from your main drive.

Data Rescue for Mac
Data Rescue for Mac

Data Rescue for Mac supports two main scanning modes: Quick Scan and Deep Scan. The former takes just a short while to complete because it utilizes existing directory information, while the latter uses advanced recovery techniques to find every recoverable file.

Pros and Cons

  • Straightforward user interface
  • Disk cloning functionality
  • Can create a recovery drive
  • Doesn’t support macOS Big Sur and newer
choice #5
DMDE for Mac
  • Not Enough Ratings

DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery is a relatively unknown Mac data recovery software application that may surprise you with its data searching, editing, and recovery features. The application can run on just about any operating system, including macOS, but its creator recommends Mac users to perform data recovery jobs from a different operating system whenever possible.

If you don’t let that deter you from giving DMDE for Mac a try, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its support for NTFS, FAT12/16, FAT32, exFAT, Ext2/3/4, HFS+/HFSX, ReFS, and APFS file systems, its capable data recovery algorithms, and its support for national file names, just to name some of its features.

DMDE for Mac
DMDE for Mac

Unlike many other similar software applications, the free version of DMDE for Mac can recover lost files, but there are two limitations that you need to keep in mind. First, you can only recover files from one directory at a time. Second, you can’t recover more than 4,000 files in one go.

Pros and Cons

  • Many data searching, editing, and recovery features
  • Wide file system support
  • In-depth file recovery
  • RAID reconstruction capabilities
  • Two annoying limitations in the free version
  • Confusing user interface
  • The developer discourages users from recovering on Mac
choice #6
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac
  • Not Enough Ratings

EaseUS is a name with a lot of weight and recognition behind it, and its data recovery software for Mac, called EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac, has received many raving reviews over the years. The latest version runs on macOS Big Sur and older (up to Mac OS X 10.9), and it brings to the table a number of advanced functionalities to address all kinds of data recovery scenarios.

One feature that stood out, is the ability to recover lost files directly to cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. This feature solves the problem that happens when you want to recover data from your main system drive but don’t have any other storage device where you could store them.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac

Besides a long feature list, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac boasts a three-step data recovery process that makes it accessible even to users who have no previous experience with data recovery.

Pros and Cons

  • Many advanced functionalities
  • Can recovery files to cloud storage services
  • Three-step data recovery process
  • Frequently updated
  • Scan time estimations are inaccurate
  • Unrecoverable files are sometimes included alongside recoverable files
choice #7
Stellar Data Recovery for Mac
  • Not Enough Ratings

Stellar Data Recovery for Mac is a newbie-friendly data recovery tool for macOS Big Sur and lower. It offers full support for APFS, HFS, HFS+, FAT, and NTFS drives, and it is one of only a few tools of its kind that can recover any file format.

That’s right, Stellar Data Recovery for Mac lets you define your own custom file types to extent the already long list of supported file formats. All you need to do is enter the file format header and include at least 10 sample files.

Stellar Data Recovery for Mac
Stellar Data Recovery for Mac

Stellar Data Recovery for Mac can successfully recover files even from Macs that display the spinning beach ball of death thanks to its ability to create a bootable recovery drive. All these and other features are designed with regular users in mind, so it doesn’t take much effort to figure out how to use them.

Pros and Cons

  • Restores data from crashed or non-booting Macs
  • Drive health monitoring and disk imaging
  • Easy to use
  • Can recover custom file formats
  • Slower scanning speed
  • Professional version doesn’t include all features
choice #8
PhotoRec for Mac
  • Not Enough Ratings

PhotoRec for Mac is certainly one of the more intimidating data recovery software applications featured in this article. The main reason for this is the fact that it doesn’t have a graphical user interface—at least not by default. Users who are not comfortable with the terminal sometimes avoid PhotoRec entirely, and that’s a huge shame because it has a lot to offer.

To start with, it can recover hundreds of file formats from all kinds of storage devices, and it uses read-only access to avoid causing more harm than good. Best of all, PhotoRec is completely free and unlimited. The application’s source code is publicly available, so you could theoretically modify how it works.

PhotoRec for Mac
PhotoRec for Mac

There’s an optional graphical user interface for PhotoRec, called QPhotoRec, which makes the software much easier to use, but it lags behind in terms of functionality.

Pros and Cons

  • Recovers hundreds of file formats
  • Completely free and open source
  • Runs on all operating systems
  • Beginners may find it intimidating
  • The GUI version lacks some features
choice #9
TestDisk for Mac
  • Not Enough Ratings

From a distance, it may seem that TestDisk for Mac is the same data recovery software as PhotoRec for Mac. That’s somewhat true because both applications can be used to recover lost data, but TestDisk can do even more. It can recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again.

Just like PhotoRec, TestDisk is intended to run in the Terminal app, so make sure to carefully read the official guide before you start messing with it. The good news is that the guide does a great job of explaining how the software works in a step-by-step fashion, and there are also plenty of instructional videos online.

TestDisk for Mac
TestDisk for Mac

The easiest way to install TestDisk on modern Macs is with Homebrew, a package manager for macOS. Homebrew itself can be installed with a single command, and it then takes just one extra command to install TestDisk.

Pros and Cons

  • Recovers lost partitions
  • Makes non-booting disks bootable
  • Completely free and open-source
  • Lacks graphical user interface
  • Unintuitive
choice #10
Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery
  • Not Enough Ratings

Lazesoft is a completely free data recovery software for Mac that lets you recover an unlimited amount of data without paying a single dollar. Of course, you can’t reasonably expect a completely free data recovery software application to rival premium software in terms of features and usability.

Indeed, Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery is anything but attractive, and it doesn’t even support the APFS file system, which is what all newer Macs use by default to store data on internal storage devices. The only file systems it does support are HFS/HFS+, FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and EXFAT.

Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery
Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery

Free technical support is provided via email and the personal handling it actually tries to answer all questions quickly and comprehensively. All in all, we would recommend Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery to users who are attempting to recover files that are not critically important and do so without paying any money.

Pros and Cons

  • Unlimited data recovery
  • Designed exclusively for macOS
  • Responsive email customer support
  • Ugly user interface
  • Doesn’t support APFS drives
SO, WE RECOMMEND
Disk Drill
Disk Drill runs on a Mac OS X 10.6, 84,5 MB or Windows XP+, 28 MB.

Best Data Recovery Software for Mac — FAQs

How does data recovery software for Mac work?

Data recovery software for Mac uses sophisticated algorithms to find files that are still present on the storage device where they were located before their deletion but are no longer accessible from macOS. Depending on which software application you choose, you should be able to recover everything from documents to multimedia files from any Mac-compatible storage device, both internal and external.

Read more: How to recover deleted files from an SD card

What is the difference between free and pro tools?

In many cases, the only difference is the amount of data that you can recover. That’s because many vendors offer limited versions of their paid data recovery software solutions to give users a chance to try them out before spending any money. Such applications usually let you scan your storage device to see if your files can be recovered, requiring you to purchase a license to actually recover them.

Is it safe to use data recovery software on my Mac?

Yes, using reliable and trustworthy data recovery software on your Mac is completely safe. We say reliable and trustworthy because there are some data recovery applications that have more in common with malware than helpful software. It goes without saying that such applications should be avoided at all costs. Instead of wasting time on software that doesn’t do what it promises to do, stick with the top 10 best Mac data recovery software applications described in this article.