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The best data recovery software for your Mac or MacBook

A rose gold MacBook Air has Disk Utility open with a red warning symbol and an external drive connected.
Alan Truly / Digital Trends

Apple designed your computer to be reliable and user-friendly, but even the best and newest MacBook hardware can experience glitches. When something goes wrong with your storage, data recovery software can help you restore missing and damaged files.

Another reason for data loss is the sort of embarrassing mistake that happens sometimes. If you’ve ever accidentally thrown away a file you needed, then emptied the trash, it’s possible to get that file back with a data recovery app.

Time Machine

Best built-in solution

Time Machine Settings are open on a MacBook Air with an external SSD.
Digital Trends

The easiest way to recover data on a Mac is to restore files from a Time Machine backup. It’s Apple’s built-in solution to protect you from data loss and it works great.

Since it comes with every Mac, there’s no extra cost beyond the expense of a backup drive. You need to use a secondary internal drive or periodically attach an external drive. When the backup drive is connected, Time Machine works in the background to intelligently store file changes.

Whenever you’ve saved a change to a document you don’t want to keep, you enter your Mac’s Time Machine and revert to the previous version. If your entire drive crashes, you can restore the entire contents to a new drive.

There’s nothing to download. Just open System Settings and search for Time Machine to set it up and start using it.

Of course, Time Machine only helps if the files you’ve lost have been backed up. If you need to recover files that don’t exist in Time Machine, you’ll need one of the data recovery tools below.

Ease US Data Recovery Wizard

Best overall data recovery app for Mac

Ease US has a website for Mac computers.
Ease US

You can tell from the name that EaseUS aims to make complex software user-friendly, and its data recovery solution for the Mac does a great job of this. It doesn’t take long to start the process when you choose EaseUS.

Of course, recovery time varies with the size of the drive and the amount of data you’re trying to restore. The app supports Apple’s native APFS and HFS filesystems, as well as drives formatted by Windows PCs such as FAT, exFAT, and NTFS. EaseUS is compatible with Apple Silicon Macs and the older Intel-based Macs with T2 security chips.

There’s a free trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac that restores up to 2GB of files. For more than that, you’ll need to subscribe. The website lists three options: $90 per month, $120 per year, or lifetime upgrades for $170. Sometimes, you’ll get a pop-up window with a special offer like $30 per week.

Get Ease US Data Recovery for Mac

Stellar Data Recovery

Best subscription option for Mac data recovery

Stellar Data Recovery makes an app for the Mac.

Starting at $70 annually for one Mac, Stellar Standard Data Recovery restores your files in most situations at a low cost and keeps solving problems for an entire year.

If you have a more severe problem like deleted partitions or a Mac that won’t boot, the $90 Professional plan can help. The $100 Premium plan helps repair corrupted photos and videos. You can also upgrade if you learn later that the version you bought doesn’t have the recovery features you need.

Like EaseUS, Stellar’s Data Recovery software works on old and new Mac computers and supports Apple’s APFS and HFS, as well as Windows FAT, exFAT, and NTFS drive filesystems.

If you like the sound of Stellar Data Recovery, but want to test it first, there’s a free trial version that’s capped at restoring 1GB of data.

Get Stellar Data Recovery for Mac

Disk Drill Pro

Best subscription-free data recovery for macOS

Disk Drill has free and paid versions for the Mac.
Disk Drill

Disk Drill has a unique approach to its free version, allowing you to see all the recoverable files before purchasing the $89 Pro version. For $19 more, you can get lifetime upgrades so you can keep using Disk Drill when Apple updates macOS.

Disk Drill Pro allows three activations for one user. For example, you can recover files on your Mac, MacBook, and iMac without buying another copy of Disk Drill.

It supports APFS, HFS, FAT, exFAT, and NTFS drive file systems. It can even recover lost partitions.

Get Disk Drill Pro for Mac

Test Disk and PhotoRec

Best data recovery tool for the macOS Terminal

TestDisk and PhotoRec are free, open-source data recovery apps for the Mac.
TestDisk and PhotoRec are free, open-source data recovery apps for the Mac. CGSecurity

If you’re familiar with using macOS Terminal, Test Disk and PhotoRec are free, open-source apps that can recover data, fix partition errors, and restore photos and documents in a variety of formats.

Like all the best Mac data recovery apps, these command line tools support Apple and Windows filesystems. Before attempting to do data recovery with these apps, make sure you know how to use the macOS Terminal.

Get Test Disk and PhotoRec for Mac

Drives with hardware damage

A drive that’s suffered water damage, a power surge, or some other serious problem might not be accessible via software. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Companies like Flashback Data, Data Savers, and DTI Data can often extract data from hard drives and solid state drives (SSDs) that have hardware damage.

Whichever method you use to recover your data, it’s a good idea to make backups so you have some protection against data loss in the future. You rely on your Mac and need to keep your photo library and documents safe and accessible.

Alan Truly
Alan is a Computing Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is…
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