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I used two popular data recovery services to see which saved my files

A photo shows Stellar Data Recovery Premium and Recuva Professional side-by-side on a PC monitor
Alan Truly / Digital Trends

If you’re looking for the best data recovery software but don’t want to spend too much, Stellar Data Recovery and Recuva Professional are worth considering. Each has free and paid versions to help scan and restore your lost files.

I recently reviewed the top subscription plans from Stellar and Recuva, so I can share my hands-on test results and customer service experience to help you make an informed decision.

Tiers and pricing

Stellar Data Recovery Premium and Recuva Professional price tiers appear in a split-screen shot.
Stellar Data Recovery Premium and Recuva Professional price tiers are shown side by side. Digital Trends

Recuva Professional is remarkably cheap at $25 per year. Sometimes you can even get it for even less. It’s made by the same company that develops CCleaner, and there’s a bundle deal if you’re interested in PC cleanup software.

By comparison, Stellar’s lowest-cost Data Recovery Standard plan sounds expensive at $60 annually. In truth, it’s quite affordable since it includes live chat support. If you need files restored often, an average cost of $5 monthly isn’t much more than Recuva Professional’s $2 per month.

While Recuva Professional is the one and only data recovery subscription plan from CCleaner, Stellar offers three tiers. The $90-per-year Stellar Data Recovery Professional plan adds lost partition restoration. For $10 more, Stellar Data Recovery Premium unlocks advanced photo and video repair tools.


Restoring HDD files was much easier for Recuva Professional.
Restoring HDD files was easier than from an SSD for Recuva Professional. Digital Trends

As a bargain-priced app, Recuva Professional offers the basics. You can find and restore most files from hard disk drives (HDDs). However, it only found 158 of the 163 files I had lost. Also, it replaced some filenames with computer-generated codes.

Stellar Data Recovery Premium was perfect in this series of tests. It restored every lost HDD file, including the names, and re-created the original folder structure.

Recovering data from solid-state drives (SSDs) is hard, but it’s not impossible. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro, not part of this comparison, is one of the few apps to restore some lost SSD files.

Both Stellar Data Recovery Premium and Recuva Professional failed my SSD tests. That’s one of the reasons HDDs are better than SSDs for long-term storage.

Stellar Data Recovery Premium found my internal SSD but not my thumb drive.
Stellar Data Recovery Premium found my internal SSD but not my thumb drive. Digital Trends

There are many types of drives, and Stellar Data Recovery Premium supports them all. However, it couldn’t find a lost partition on my old thumb drive. Recuva Professional could see the thumb drive and restored several files.

It’s a mixed bag for these two apps. Stellar Data Recovery Premium restored more files with greater accuracy for HDDs, but Recuva Professional restored the thumb drive partition that Stellar could not.

Customer support and usability

Stellar's customer support is the best I experienced for data recovery software.
Stellar’s live customer support is the best I’ve experienced for data recovery software. Digital Trends

Stellar Data Recovery Premium’s greatest strength is its fantastic customer service. I received good technical support in under a minute via live chat. Stellar support is available 24 hours a day on weekdays, and you get access with every paid plan.

Recuva Professional only offers support via email. It took over a day to receive a reply to my question. Online support documents are also quite limited.

Trustpilot ratings agree with my assessment. Stellar Data Recovery averages 4.7 stars over nearly 4,000 reviews. Recuva Professional isn’t rated in Trustpilot, but CCleaner earned 4.4 stars, which might set your mind at ease somewhat. I found Recuva support to be good but much slower than Stellar’s service.

A split-view shows Stellar Data Recovery Premium and Recuva Professional Trustpilot rating.
A split view shows Stellar Data Recovery Premium and Recuva Professional Trustpilot rating. Digital Trends

It helps that both apps are easy to understand. You select which drive to scan and the results appear in a list. Select a file to see a preview. If you see what you want, you can proceed with recovery.

In general, if you see a preview in Stellar Data Recovery or a status indicating excellent recoverability in Recuva Professional, good file restoration is likely. If not, you can try customer service.

Stellar support guided me to try advanced photo recovery. While it was a helpful tip about a feature I didn’t see, Stellar Data Recovery Premium still wasn’t able to restore my lost SSD files.

Free versions

After a quick scan is complete, Stellar Data Recovery Premium shows a file list with previews.
After a quick scan is complete, Stellar Data Recovery Premium shows a file list with previews. Digital Trends

It’s hard to beat free, and Stellar Data Recovery can up to 1GB of lost files and works best with HDDs. You’ll need a subscription to save more lost files. Long HD videos can easily exceed the limit, but if you need to recover photos, documents, and text files, 1GB is a generous amount.

Recuva’s free app doesn’t have a cap on the amount of data you can restore, but you’ll need a subscription to access drives within a virtual machine.

Neither company offers customer support for the free tier, so if you can’t find the answers you need in the online help documents or community forums, you’ll have to subscribe.

Which data recovery app is best?

While Stellar’s customer support is impressive and explains the higher subscription prices, the special features of Data Recovery Premium didn’t work any better in my testing than Stellar’s Data Recovery Standard.

Recuva Professional came close to Stellar’s HDD recovery quality at less than half the price of Stellar Data Recovery Standard. Neither passed my SSD tests, and Recuva Professional was the one that restored the thumb drive.

If you feel comfortable with Recuva’s slower support, it’s a much better deal than any of the Stellar Data Recovery subscription plans.

Overall, I’d pick Recuva Professional if I had to choose between subscription plans.

Note that there are other options. We have a guide to the best data recovery software, and it’s worth shopping around to see which will work best for you.

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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