5 Free Mac Data Recovery Tools [Best in 2021]

By Jenny | Posted to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips, updated on November 25th, 2021 |

Summary: This post presents you with the best five Mac data recovery software in 2021 with pros and cons. It will also walk you through the experience each tool provided so that you can pick the right one for you.

Best Mac Data Recovery Software

5 Free Mac Data Recovery Tools [Best in 2021]

  1. Best 5 Free Data Recovery Tools for Mac in 2021:
  2. 1. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac
  3. 2. PhotoRec for Mac
  4. 3. Wondershare Recoverit for Mac
  5. 4. Stellar Data Recovery for Mac
  6. 5. Disk Drill for Mac

5 Free Mac data recovery apps are reviewed in this post with pros and cons. As a whole, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac outperforms the others in Macintosh HD data recovery, emptied Trash data recovery, SD card and hard drive data recovery.

1. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac

Among all 5 reviewed file recovery apps, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac performs better than the others. It can not only meet the common needs of Mac data recovery, but also recover data when MacBook won't turn on.

  • Pros:
  • 1 GB free data recovery for Mac
  • Support Apple T2 chip encrypted Mac
  • Work with M1 Pro/Max Mac.
  • Unbootable Macintosh HD data recovery
  • Allow Preview before Mac data recovery
  • Scanning session can be saved and resumed
  • Support macOS 12 - OS X 10.7 Lion
  • Support (encrypted) APFS, HFS+, FAT32, exFAT file system
  • Cons
  • No corrupt photo & video repair features
  • Not support NTFS file system
  • No phone support

How to use iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery for Mac?

  • 1. Free download this free Mac data recovery software and install it on your Mac.
  • 2. Restart your Mac and then launch this data recovery app.
  • 3. Select the disk or volume and scan for lost data.
  • 4. Preview the desired files and then recover them.

Overall experience

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac Free

Testing it on several mainstream hard drives like WD and Seagate (APFS, APFS encrypted, HFS+, exFAT, and FAT32 formatted), we get all files retrieved on Mac, including photos, images, notes, documents, spreadsheets, videos, and music files.

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Being able to undelete data that was moved to or emptied from Mac Trash, Macintosh HD, external hard drives, SSD, USB flash thumb drives, SD cards, CF cards, Memory card, and more. This app works well in a wide range of Mac operating systems (from macOS 12 Monterey to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion) with a high data recovery rate.

Specifically, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can get files back after hard drives are formatted (no disk unformat tool is needed), unreadable, unmountable, and unrecognized. Also, it recovers data from Mac that is introduced in 2018 and later whose startup disk is protected by T2 chip. What highlights this app is to recover data from unbootable Mac, especially when booting from external USB recovery drive is not allowed.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is the best free Mac data recovery software, making a good balance between functionality and user experience. Its enhanced features like quick scan and deep scan, real-time scanning, advanced scanning results filter, and preview before recovery would make Mac data recovery easy for both the ordinary and the professional.

Editor's Review: iBoysoft Data Recovery combines simple and advanced features into a clear and intuitive interface. It helps you recover deleted or lost files of any type, including photos, music, office documents, etc. - by RAHUL SAIGAL, makeuseof.com

2. PhotoRec for Mac

When it comes to free file recovery software for Mac, PhotoRec should be on the list though it's not so good for ordinary users. This free software is an open source for restoring data lost after deletion, disk formatting, file system corruption, etc.

  • Pros:
  • Completely free mac data recovery software
  • Powerful file carving technology
  • Advanced corrupted hard drive data recovery
  • Support HFS+, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, ext2, ext3, ext4 file system
  • Cons:
  • Unfriendly command-line interface
  • Not support (encrypted) APFS file system
  • Slow data scanning and recovery speed
  • No technical support or service

Overall experience

Free data recovery software PhotoRec for Mac

PhotoRec is mainly aimed at photo recovery and people those who own DSLR cameras. But this completely free recovery software for Mac still supports a large number of devices, like external hard drives, CD-ROM, Memory cards, and USB drive, and Mac computers.

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Locating data by block and cluster size contained in superblock (ext2/ext3/ext4) or MBR, this Mac data recovery open source is able to calculate the block or cluster size with the first 10 files found, and then recover lost data from Mac.

We took use of this Mac data recovery freeware and successfully recovered JPEG pictures, MP3 audio files, and Microsoft Office files.

However, it should be made clear that using PhotoRec to get files back from Mac requires knowledge on command lines, as its user interface is like Terminal (Command Prompt on Mac), not a user-friensly modern graphical interface.

Although it may not be compatible with the new Mac operating systems like macOS Monterey and Big Sur, PhotoRec would be recommended to recover lost data on Mac if users master in command prompt. For newbies who want a simple while effective freeware, this is not a good option.

Editor's Review: PhotoRec for Mac is designed to recover lost pictures or files and is safe to use because instead of writing the recovered files to the drive or partition where your lost files are stored, it writes from where you are running the PhotoRec application. - by CG Security, download.cnet.com

3. Wondershare Recoverit Mac Data Recovery

Wondershare Recoverit Mac Data Recovery is one of free Mac data recovery tools we have reviewed, and it also returns with satisfying result when referring to retrieve files from Mac computers.

  • Pros:
  • 100 MB free Mac data recovery
  • Macintosh HD data recovery from crashed Mac
  • Advanced video recovery and repair on Mac
  • Work with T2 and M1 Mac
  • Thumbnails and preview before recovery
  • Support macOS 12 - OS X 10.10
  • Support (encrypted) APFS, (encrypted) HFS+, FAT32, exFAT, ext2, ext3, ext4 file system
  • Cons:
  • Not support NTFS file system
  • No premium consulting services

Overall experience

Wondershare Recoverit Mac Data Recovery Free

Recoverit for Mac claims a 96% rate of data recovery from Mac hard drive and external hard drive and over 1000 formats of file recovery. But we should know that there is no guaranteed result for any data recovery software.

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For review, we try to delete files (within 100 MB) from Trash bin, external hard drives, and pen drives, SSD, USB, and Memory cards, and Recoverit Mac Data Recovery gets most of them back in a short time. What's more, this free Mac file recovery software has the following features.

We took use of this Mac data recovery freeware and successfully recovered JPEG pictures, MP3 audio files, and Microsoft Office files.

Wondersahre Recoverit for Mac can recover deleted or lost graphic photos, videos, office documents, email files, etc. And its Advanced Video Recovery Technology exclusive to Wondershare Recoverit also win a vote for this Mac data recovery software.

Recoverit Mac Data Recovery only allows us to recover lost data from Mac for free in 100 MB, which is not enough most of the time. But if we accidentally delete some little pieces of photos or documents, this app could be a solution. For lost videos or files with large size and advanced corrupted video repair and recovery, subscriptions are required.

Editor's Review: Wondershare Recoverit has an impressive interface, which makes it easy to view the plans and pricing. It has a great computer crash recovery feature that allows you to recover lost data on your hard drive. - by Chyelle Dvorak, techradar.com

4. Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery

Another file recovery way for Mac is Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery, which claims to be the beacon of hope in data recovery. It works with LaCie® USB-C HDD, SSD, portable HDD, etc., allowing file recovery from Mac built-in apps like Photos, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, TextEdit, Mail.

  • Pros:
  • Regular deleted & lost data recovery on Mac
  • Restores data from non-booting Mac
  • Drive Health Monitoring and Cloning
  • Preview before Mac data recovery
  • Support macOS 11 - OS X 10.7
  • Support APFS, HFS+, FAT32, NTFS and ExFAT
  • Cons:
  • Free download only for data scan and preview
  • Not ready for T2 chip Mac data recovery
  • No support for M1-based Mac data recovery
  • No support for encrypted APFS data recovery

Overall experience

Stellar Mac Data Recovery free trial

Stellar Mac Data Recovery be can free downloaded to scan and preview lost or deleted data. But for undeleting or recovering files that are lost from SSD, SD card, USB flash drive, jump drive, or USB-C portable HDD, we need to pay for the professional version.

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It's a comprehensive Mac file recovery tool (if you can pay $79.99 for one-year professional edition) that works with MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac mini, & other models.

What highlights this software is its ability to repair corrupted photos and videos, which is essential for pro users who work with Logic Pro, InDesign, Final Cut Pro, iMovie, and other Mac apps.

Unfortunately, the free trial version of Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac only can preview on lost or deleted files, so it could be a solution when you need to monitor the health of the lost files and hard disk. But it offers no real option for free Mac file recovery from MacBook Pro, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini unless you pay.

Editor's Review: Stellar Data Recovery is one of the best data recovery tools we've examined. It has highly customizable searches, various file-type supports, and deep scan abilities. - by Daniel Blechynden, techradar.com

5. Disk Drill for Mac

Disk Drill for Mac is another free Mac file recovery tool for Mac OS X and later. Meanwhile, to recover, manage, clean up Mac data, it's also packed with useful disk toolsfor all subscribed users out of the box.

  • Pros:
  • 500 MB completely Mac free data recovery
  • Recovery Vault & Guaranteed Data Recovery
  • S.M.A.R.T. disk health monitoring
  • Preview before recovery
  • Support macOS 12 - OS X 10.5
  • Support Intel-based and M1 Mac
  • Support APFS, HFS+, FAT32, exFAT, ext3, ext4 file system
  • Cons:
  • Free download only data preview
  • No support for encrypted APFS data recovery

Overall experience

Free Disk Drill for Mac Basic

Except for recovering deleted files on Mac, the built-in Recovery Vault feature and Guaranteed Recovery of Disk Dril prevent accidental data loss from failing hard drives, backing up Mac files like Time Machine on Mac in case users need to undelete those files from Trash.

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It is available in macOS, iOS, and Andriod devices for data recovery, which means it can recover data from hard Drive, USB flash Drive, iPhones, Digital Cameras, Andriod Phone, and Memory cards.

This Mac recovery software comes along with free S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring, Mac storage cleanup, duplicated content finder, recovery drive, data protection, and data backup.

What highlights this software is its ability to repair corrupted photos and videos, which is essential for pro users who work with Logic Pro, InDesign, Final Cut Pro, iMovie, and other Mac apps.

Similar to iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, Disk Drill allows users to preview those detected files before users finally decide to recover them. As we tried, this software is able to find 190+ file types that we daily used, like photos and documents.

Disk Drill for Mac Basic is a free application to check the lost data condition, but users need to pay for real Mac data recovery. Also, it's a little difficult to navigate the main interface for the target feature. Anyway, it could be a commercial data recovery solution.

Editor's Review: Disk Drill restores data on more than 200 internal and external storage devices regardless of file systems. It consists of tools for monitoring disk health, backing up drives, and data recovery. - by JEFFERY BATTERSBY, imore.com

Comparison Checklist: 5 Completely Free Mac Data Recovery Software

Data loss is more common than you think, while simple data recovery can cost way more than you can imagine. The best situation is that you don't need to pay any money and effort to get deleted or lost files back.

So, by comparing 5 welcomed Mac file recovery apps in this table, you'll draw an intuitive conclusion for the best.

Supported OS Free Modern Interface Crashed Mac data recovery T2 Mac support Others highlights
iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac
macOS 12 - OS X 10.7 1GB Free Yes Yes Yes 1. Work with M1 Pro/Max Mac
2. Savable scan session
PhotoRec for Mac
Mac OS X Totally Free No No No N/A
Recoverit Mac Data Recovery
macOS 12 - OS X 10.10 100MB Free Yes Yes Yes 1. Corrupted video repair
Stellar Mac Data Recovery
macOS 11 - OS X 10.7 Free Preview Yes Yes No 1. Monitor drive health
Disk Drill for Mac
macOS 12 - OS X 10.5 500MB Free Yes Yes Yes 1. Additional disk tools

How to select the best data recovery software for your Mac?

When picking the best Mac file recovery software for your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and Mac Mini, you need to check 6 things.

Can it recover data from my Mac machine?

If you are using a Mac machine after 2018, Mac data recovery software that can recover data from T2-secured computer is your first choice.

It becomes a more and more important factor to take into consideration, because the latest Mac machines are equipped with M1 Pro/Max chip, or Apple T2 security chip (iMac introduced in 2020, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro introduced in 2018 or later). This feature will prevent Mac booting from external USB and stop third-party software accessing data in the soldered encrypted Mac startup disk.

Is it compatible with my Mac operating system?

Make sure your target file recovery software supports your Mac operating system.

Surely you don't want to download or buy a software that won't work with your macOS or Mac OS X.

Does it work with storage devices that you frequently use?

Read the product specifications to make sure if the Mac data recovery software can recover files from the hard drives that you have.

Besides the Mac computer (actually the startup disk), most of us would save files to external hard drives, SSD, USB flash drives, SD cards, RAID drives, camera, and many other types of storage devices.

What disk format and file types it can recover?

The best Mac data recovery should be able to recover those types of data from the specifically formatted drives.

The mainstream disk format that Mac computers support are APFS, encrypted APFS, HFS+, FAT32, and exFAT which can be checked by right-clicking on the disk in the Finder. And common file types include JPG, TIF, PNG, and GIF (for Mac photo recovery), DOCX, HTML, PDF, CSV, TXT (for documents recovery), and MP4, M4V, F4V, M4R, MOV, 3GP (for video recovery), and many other file types.

Does it satisfy your special requirement for Mac data recovery?

You some times inevitably lose data from your Mac for uncommon reasons. For example, you can't access your data in the Macintosh HD because of a boot issue, or recover data from APFS encrypted volumes or RAID drives. In those cases, you need to pay more attention to that feature before downloading or purchasing.

Is the Mac file recovery app free or affordable?

All of us want to do the best with the least budget, which applies to data recovery as well. However, expensive or free data recovery software for Mac is not necessarily the best. You should select a tool that provides the most attractive features with visible preview results while is free or affordable for you, for example, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

FAQ about Free Mac Data Recovery Software

1. Is there any free software for data recovery?

There is freeware for Mac data recovery. If you know command lines, then PhotoRec for Mac is a great choice. Otherwise, you can give the free Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery a try, which hasn't been updated for years, but people reported success on macOS Catalina.

2. How can I recover deleted files from my external hard drive without software on Mac?

Read this article for a complete guide on recovering deleted files: How to Recover Deleted Files with/without Software?.

3. How do I recover permanently deleted files?

If you have a backup of the permanently deleted file, you can restore the file by connecting the backup drive to your Mac. If not, do these. Firstly, install iBoysoft Data Recovery to another partition, avoiding overwriting the deleted files. Then open the software and select the partition where the file is located. Lastly, find the file and recover it.

4. How much does MacBook data recovery cost?

The price of MacBook data recovery varies from the product and methods you choose. Some are entirely free, like PhotoRec for Mac. But freeware won't give you consistent results and offer you tech support.

Paid software usually can be covered under $100. If your lost data is caused by physical damage, you need a professional Mac hard drive recovery service, which will cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

5. Which is the best data recovery software for Mac?

iBoysoft Data Recovery is the best data recovery software for Mac because it supports the recovery of intel-based and M1 Pro/Max Macs and commonly-used external storage devices with an intuitive interface and a success rate of up to 99%.