Which Data Recovery Software Should I Use on my Mac?

Question:

My hard drive is dying and I need to recover some data from it before I pitch it into the digital graveyard. From my extensive search I have not been able to find any independent reviews of data recovery software. All I find is PR announcements of free giveways from other sites and self-congratulatory descriptions from the vendors' sites. What do you use for data recovery and what do you think is best?

Answer:

I was thinking about this earlier this week, and this tidbit will likely come across more as an opinionated blog post than a technical answer. Nonetheless is is my definitive answer to this question, so I share.

Data recovery software is a really hard thing for someone in my position to be appropriately knowledgeable about simply because it's not the kind of thing that can be easily tested on a broad enough scale to form a quantitative opinion. I think many of my peers find that true, as well, and this is likely the reason that trusted reviews are so hard to find. Obviously I'm aware of all the options out there, but because it's not the kind of thing one person needs (or can reliably test) on a regular basis, it's impossible for me (or probably most anyone) to have a fully-informed opinion about which applications are the best at any given moment in time.

THAT said, I do get asked about data recovery software often and may even have to use it myself some day, so I need to have an opinion on the subject. To form that opinion I defer to software vendors I trust for other reasons and assume that they're just as committed to making data recovery software as they are at everything else they do. Thinking along those lines, in recent years I have become really impressed with Prosoft Engineering's Drive Genius for disk repair (but it doesn't do data recovery). Drive Genius has really become an excellent product, doing the best at most everything it does. There are times that Alsoft's DiskWarrior can "fix" a drive that Drive Genius can't, so I do keep both around, but Drive Genius has become the disk repair app I use first. With that in mind I feel more comfortable recommending Prosoft Engineering's Data Rescue for data recovery once I've exhausted the repair options available in the aforementioned apps.

Not exactly a review, per se, because I haven't used it enough to be able to do that, but I trust Data Rescue simply because I know how Prosoft is with their other products.

Hard drive image above provided by Shutterstock.