Written byRyone Visscher
Mac Data Recovery Software Free Versions
Summary: This post discusses the eight best free data recovery software offerings with the pros and cons of each. It will also walk you through the experience each tool provides so that you can pick the right one for you.
Top 8 Free Mac Data Recovery Software Comparison Table
|Mac Data Recovery software||Compatibility||Limitations||Free||Full Edition||Crashed Mac data recovery||Others highlights|
|iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac||macOS 14 - OS X 10.11 |
(Intel, T2, M3, M2, M1)
|Deep scan takes a long time.||Free Preview||$89.95||Yes||1. Savable scanning results|
2. High recovery rate
|PhotoRec for Mac||Mac OS X |
|Obsolete user interface and poor compatibility.||Completely free||Freeware||No||N/A|
|Wondershare Recoverit for Mac||macOS 14 - OS X 10.10|
(Intel and T2)
|Free edition is limited in features.||100MB Free||$99.99||Yes||Corrupted video repair|
|Stellar Data Recovery for Mac||macOS 14 - OS X 10.11|
(Intel, T2, and M1)
|No free data recovery.||Free Preview||$99.99||Yes||Monitor drive health|
|Disk Drill for Mac||macOS 14 - Mac OS X 10.5|
(Intel and T2)
|Free edition is limited in features.||Free Preview||$89||Yes||Additional disk tools|
|Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery||OS X 10.9 - Mac OS X 10.5|
|Outdated user interface and poor compatibility.||Completely free||Freeware||No||N/A|
|EaseUs Data Recovery Wizard for Mac||macOS 14 - OS X 10.9|
(Intel and T2)
|No extra features.||2 GB free||$89.95||Yes||Smart disk monitoring|
|Softtote Mac Data Recovery||macOS 10.14 - Mac OS X 10.7|
|Outdated user interface.||1 GB free||$59.99||No||N/A|
How we tested and picked Mac data recovery software:
To test the top 8 most mentioned data recovery apps showcased in this article, we created virtual machines with Mac OS X 10.9, macOS 10.14, macOS 12 and macOS 13 to test compatibility and data recovery success rate.
We prepared an external hard drive with a damaged file system and it contained several different file formats like DOC, JPG, AVI, MP3, and ZIP. Then we created 7 clones of each original virtual machine to make sure all data recovery apps were running in the same system environment. These attempts allow us to eliminate most factors that may influence the scanning and recovering results. Therefore, we believe the experiences and conclusions in this article are objective and highly accurate.
Data Recovery Software Review Process Summary
|🔢 Number of tested data recovery tools||15|
|⌛ Overall test time||3 weeks|
|💻 Device we tested on||2020 MacBook Air 13.3"|
|💻 macOS version we tested on||10.9.5 Mavericks, 10.14.1 Mojave, 12.2.1 Monterey, 13 Ventura|
|💰 Average cost||$60 - $100|
iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac
iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is fully developed and helps users recover deleted or lost data from Mac hard drives and external storage devices in a safe and fast manner.
- Supports Apple T2 chip-encrypted Mac
- Works with M3/M2/M1 Apple hardware profiles
- Ability to recover files from lost partitions
- Unbootable Macintosh HD data recovery
- Preview recoverable data before data recovery
- The scanning session can be saved and resumed
- Supports macOS 14 - OS X 10.11 Mavericks
- Support (encrypted) APFS, HFS+, FAT32, exFAT file system
- No corrupt photo & video repair features
- Not support for NTFS file system
- No phone support
How to use iBoysoft Data Recovery software for Mac:
- Download the best Mac data recovery software and install it on your Apple computer.
- Launch the data recovery app.
- Select the disk or volume and click the Search for Lost Data button.
- Preview the files you want to recover, then click the Recover button to get them back.
We tested this software on various mainstream hard drives like WD and Seagate and retrieved all lost files on Mac, including photos, images, notes, documents, spreadsheets, videos, and music files.
This excellent tool is designed to recover deleted files on Mac that were moved to or emptied from the Trash. It supports SD card recovery and restoring lost data from your Macintosh HD, external hard drives, SSD, USB flash thumb drives, and more.
Moreover, it's compatible with a wide range of Mac operating systems (from macOS Sonoma to OS X 10.11) with a high success rate. You can also rely on it to recover Word documents on Mac and 1000+ file formats of office documents, pictures, videos, audio, emails, and archives on hard drives with the following file systems: APFS, APFS encrypted, HFS+, exFAT, and FAT32.
You can use the iBoysoft Data Recovery app with all types of data loss scenarios, including retrieving files from formatted drives (no disk unformat tool is needed), as well as unreadable, unmountable, or unrecognized hard drives.
Apart from being a reliable Intel-based Mac recovery tool, it's also an M1/M2/M3 Mac data recovery software with solid performance. Additionally, this software can handle complicated cases like Apple T2 data recovery and recover data even when your MacBook Pro won't fully boot.
Like a few other data recovery apps, iBoysoft features the ability to create a bootable installer for an unbootable Mac, but even that won't be helpful when you can't boot from an external USB flash drive! That's where iBoysoft stands out from its competitors as it enables users to run Mac data recovery while in Apple's Recovery Mode.
iBoysoft Data Recovery is the best free Mac data recovery software because it offers professional data recovery functions while maintaining a good user experience.
It allows you to preview recoverable files and filter scanning results. Whether you are experienced or not, with iBoysoft Data Recovery's intuitive graphical user interface your data is just a few clicks away.
In case you are considering going to Apple genius bar, read: Data Recovery in Apple Genius Bar vs. Data Recovery Software in 2022
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
PhotoRec for Mac
When it comes to free file recovery software for Mac, PhotoRec should be on your list, although it's not suitable for users with no experience using a command-line interface. This free photo recovery software for Mac is open-source and built for restoring data lost after deletion, disk formatting, file system corruption, etc.
- Completely free Mac data recovery software
- Powerful file carving technology
- Advanced corrupted hard drive data recovery
- Supports HFS+, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, ext2, ext3, ext4 file system
- Unfriendly command-line interface
- Does not support an encrypted APFS file system
- Slow data scanning and recovery
- No technical support or service
- Only supports up to Mac OS X
PhotoRec aims to provide photo recovery features for DSLR camera users. But this completely free recovery software for Mac also supports a large number of devices such as external hard drives, CD-ROM, Memory cards, USB drives, and Mac computers.
Locating data by block and cluster size contained in superblock (ext2/ext3/ext4) or MBR datasets, this tool can calculate the block or cluster size using the first ten files found and then recover lost data from a Mac.
We made 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 of the command line, as its user interface is similar to Terminal (the Command Prompt on Mac), which is not a user-friendly modern graphical interface at all. And PhotoRec APFS data recovery is not available as it doesn't support APFS.
Although it may not be compatible with the new Mac operating systems like macOS Ventura, Monterey, or Big Sur, PhotoRec could still be recommended to recover lost data on Mac OS X. However, this freeware is not an option for people with no idea of how to use command lines.
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
Wondershare Recoverit Mac Data Recovery
Wondershare Recoverit Mac Data Recovery is another free data recovery tool we found while retrieving files from Mac computers with satisfying results.
- 100 MB free Mac data recovery
- Macintosh HD data recovery from a crashed Mac
- Advanced video recovery and repair on Mac
- Works with T2 and M1 Mac
- Preview thumbnails before recovery
- Support macOS 14 - OS X 10.10
- Support for encrypted APFS, encrypted HFS+, FAT32, exFAT, ext2, ext3, ext4 file systems
- Does not support the NTFS file system
- No premium consulting services
Recoverit for Mac claims a 96% success rate of data recovery from Mac hard drives and external hard drives with over 1000 file formats. But of course, there is no guaranteed result with any data recovery software.
For purposes of this review, we tried to delete files (up to 100 MB in total size) from the Trash, external hard drives, pen drives, SSD, USB, and Memory cards—and Recoverit Mac Data Recovery got most of them back in short order. What's more, this free Mac file recovery software has other attractive features as well.
We made use of this Apple data recovery freeware and successfully recovered JPEG pictures, MP3 audio files, and Microsoft Office files.
Wondershare Recoverit for Mac can recover lost or deleted graphic photos, videos, office documents, email files, etc. And it's Advanced Video Recovery Technology —exclusive to Wondershare Recoverit—also wins accolades for this Mac data recovery software.
Recoverit Mac Data Recovery only allows us to recover lost data from Mac for free up to 100MB, which is not enough most of the time. But if we accidentally deleted only a few photos or documents, this MacBook Pro data recovery software could be a solution. For lost videos or files with large sizes or the advanced corrupted video repair and recovery options, 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
Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery
Another file recovery solution for Mac is Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery, which claims to be a beacon of hope in data recovery. It works with LaCie® USB-C HDD, SSD, portable HDDs, etc. allowing file recovery lost from your Mac's built-in apps such as Photos, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, TextEdit, or Mail.
- Deleted & lost data recovery on Mac
- Restores data from a non-booting Mac
- Drive Health Monitoring and Cloning
- Preview recoverable data before recovery
- Supports macOS 14 - OS X 10.11
- Supports M1 & T2 Macs
- Supports APFS, HFS+, FAT32, NTFS and ExFAT
- Free download only applies to data scanning and previewing
- No support for encrypted APFS data recovery
Stellar Mac Data Recovery is a free download for scanning and previewing lost or deleted data. But for fully undeleting or recovering data from a deleted APFS partition or lost files from an SSD, SD card, USB flash drive, jump drive, or USB-C portable HDD, you will need to pay for the professional version.
Stellar is a comprehensive Mac file recovery tool (if you can afford to pay $79.99 for the one-year professional version) that works with MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac mini, & other models.
This software's highlight is its ability to repair corrupted photos and videos which is essential for professional 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 can only preview lost or deleted files, so it might 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 up.
Minitool Power Data Recovery vs. Stellar Mac Data Recovery
You may find posts recommending Minitool Power Data Recovery, but it no longer has a Mac version and is now a Stellar Mac Data Recovery re-seller.
Editor's Review: Stellar Mac 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
Disk Drill for Mac
Disk Drill is another free Mac file recovery tool for Mac OS X and later. Built to recover, manage, and clean up Mac data, it's also packed with useful disk tools for all subscribed users.
- Recovery Vault & Guaranteed Data Recovery
- S.M.A.R.T. disk health monitoring
- Preview recoverable data before recovery
- Supports macOS 14 - Mac OS X 10.5
- Supports both Intel-based and M1 Mac
- Support APFS, HFS+, FAT32, exFAT, ext3, ext4 file systems
- Free download can only preview lost
- No support for encrypted APFS data recovery
In addition to recovering deleted files on a Mac, the built-in Recovery Vault feature and Guaranteed Recovery of Disk Drill can prevent accidental data loss from failing hard drives by backing up files with Time Machine in case users need to recover data from an emptied Trash on their Mac.
Disk Drill is available for macOS, iOS, and Android devices for data recovery, which means it can recover data from a hard Drive, USB flash Drive, iPhones, Digital Cameras, Android phones, and memory cards.
This Mac recovery software comes with free S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring, Mac storage cleanup, a duplicate file finder for Mac, a recovery drive, data protection, and data backup.
What distinguishes 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 software, Disk Drill allows users to preview files it detects before they finally decide to recover them. As we discovered, this software is able to find 190+ file types that we use daily, such as various photos and documents.
Disk Drill's Basic version is a free application to check the state of your lost data, but users need to pay for real Mac data recovery. Also, it's a little difficult to navigate the main interface for the desired feature. Anyway, it could be a commercial data recovery solution if you're ready to pay.
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
Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery
Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery offers a completely free data recovery service that enables you to recover unlimited data. This data recovery software was released in 2013, but many Mac users are not familiar with it, possibly because it doesn't officially support any macOS versions later than OS X 10.9, also known as Classic!
- Completely free data recovery
- Recovers deleted data
- Supports HFS+, HFS, FAT32, exFAT and NTFS
- Recover files from damaged or lost partitions
- Only support OS X 10.9 -10.5
- No support for T2 & M1 Macs
- Outdated user interface
- No support for APFS (Apple File System)
Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery is designed to recover deleted files on Mac, supporting file systems including HFS+, HFS, FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT. With this free data recovery tool, you can recover images, audio files, videos, documents, etc. from any mountable storage device on your Mac, such as USB flash drives, memory cards, and hard disks.
This free data recovery software has two modes available - Fast Scan to rapidly undelete files, and Deep Scan to recover lost files from a formatted, damaged, or deleted partition. It makes the recovery process potentially faster by allowing users to see the files it has found while the scan is ongoing.
Unfortunately, it seems like this program has been abandoned by its developers since the last update was in 2014. Therefore, it has an interface less up-to-date than the previously mentioned recovery software for Mac and may not work as effectively as the others.
Although the latest officially supported operating system of this free data recovery software is OS X 10.9, some have reported success when running it on macOS 10.15 Catalina. So it is worth a try if your deleted or lost files are not APFS-formatted.
Editor's Review: Lazesoft Data Recovery runs two excellent recovery mode options - fast scan and deep scan in an interface that even the least experienced users can follow. However, its sterility may be a bit intimidating. - by Download.com staff, finance.yahoo.com
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac
EaseUs Data Recovery Wizard for Mac has made the recovery process so easy with its step-by-step recovery wizard that even a computer newbie can navigate it with ease. This data recovery tool allows users to recover deleted data on OS X 10.9 to macOS 13.
- Up to 2GB free recovery
- Supports macOS 14 - OS X 10.9
- Preview recoverable files
- Intuitive graphical user interface
- Supports APFS, HFS+, HFS, FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS
- Inaccurate scan time estimates
- Can't scan the entire hard drive
- More expensive than some competitors
- Scanned results include files that can't be recovered
- No support for encrypted APFS data recovery
EaseUs Data Recovery Wizard for Mac supports more than 1000 file formats: the commonly used DOC/XLS, XLSX/PPT/PPTX, JPG/JPEG, TIFF/TIF, PNG, AVI, MOV, MP4, MP3, and many more.
This recovery software for Mac allows you to retrieve deleted files and folders through a quick scan, or alternatively to search the storage device to find what the quick scan didn't find with a deep scan. It also has a data protection function that allows you to restore deleted files in a protected state easily.
Like most commercial data recovery tools, it's limited to the support of APFS, HFS+, HFSX, FAT, exFAT, and NTFS file systems but is unable to recover data from encrypted APFS drives.
It deals with lost photos, videos, documents, emails, etc. from devices that can be detected by your Mac, such as USB flash drives, memory cards, fusion drives, digital cameras, and more. It also has separate data recovery tools that you can purchase to recover files from iOS and Android phones.
EaseUs Data Recovery Wizard for Mac offers a free version that claims to recover up to 2 GB of data. However, you can only recover 500MB of data by default unless you share a post on Facebook or Twitter about the program. Upgrading to its Pro version, you can recover data from a Time Machine backup disk and create a bootable USB drive for recovery from a non-booting Apple computer.
Editor's Review: EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is an overall competent file recovery tool. It is easy to use but expensive for a single user and slower than its competitors. It is more suited to small business owners rather than large organizations. - by Daniel Blechynden, Christian Cawley, techradar.com
Softtote Mac Data Recovery
Softtote Mac Data Recovery handles different types of logical data loss scenarios with an above-average success rate. Though it's not compatible with the latest macOS Ventura, it's still a good option for Mac users running Mac OS X 10.7 - macOS 10.14.
- Up to 1 GB free recovery
- One-time charge
- Simple user interface
- Supports macOS 10.14 - Mac OS X 10.7
- Preview recoverable files
- Three modules: File Recovery, Photo Recovery, Lost Partition Recovery
- Supports NTFS, HFS, HFS+, HFSX, HFS Wrapper, and FAT
- Limited file format support
- No support for exFAT and APFS/encrypted APFS file systems
- No support for T2 & M1 Macs
- No support for macOS 10.15 Catalina - macOS Ventura
Softtote Data Recovery has a simple user interface that displays three wizards: File Recovery (recovering deleted Mac files and documents), Photo Recovery (recovering any type of photo), and Lost Partition Recovery (recovering lost, overwritten, damaged, or formatted partitions).
You can also retrieve lost audio, videos, archives, and emails on an internal Mac hard disk and external hard drives with Softtote. It is not suitable for complex data loss scenarios since it supports a limited number of file formats such as bmp, jpg, png, tif, and mp3. But you can give it a try because it offers 1GB of free recovery on Mac OS X 10.7 through macOS 10.14.
It's slightly cheaper than other data recovery software applications for Mac, and you can preview recoverable files before making a decision. It's worth noting that Softtote Mac Data Recovery doesn't support the more advanced exFAT and APFS file systems.
Editor's Review: Softtote Data Recovery is an all-in-one recovery tool that assists you in retrieving valuable files, videos, audio, photos, documents, and partitions from internal hard disks, digital cameras, USB flash drives, and SD cards. - by apps.apple.com
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 keep 6 things in mind.
1. Can it recover data from my Mac machine?
If you are using a Mac machine after 2018, data recovery apps that can recover data from a T2-secured computer are your first choice.
This becomes a more and more important factor to take into consideration because the latest Mac machines are equipped with the M1 Pro/Max chip, or Apple's T2 security chip (in iMacs introduced in 2020, or MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros introduced in 2018 or later). This feature will prevent your Mac from booting to an external USB and stop third-party software from accessing data on the physically attached and encrypted Mac startup disk.
2. Is it compatible with my Mac operating system?
Make sure your file recovery software supports your Mac operating system.
Surely you don't want to download or buy software that won't work with your macOS or Mac OS X.
3. Does it work with storage devices that you frequently use?
Read the product specifications to make sure the Mac data recovery software can recover files from the external hard drive 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, a camera, and many other types of storage devices.
4. What disk formats and file types can it recover?
The best data recovery software should be able to recover files from specifically-formatted drives. The main disk formats that Mac computers support are APFS, encrypted APFS, HFS+, FAT32, and exFAT which can be determined by right-clicking on the disk to Get Info with Finder.
Common file formats 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), as well as many other file types.
5. Does it satisfy your special requirements for Mac data recovery?
You will inevitably lose data from your Mac for specific reasons. For example, you can't access your data on the Macintosh HD when your Mac won't boot, or recover data from APFS encrypted volumes or RAID drives. In those cases, you need to pay more attention to the required features before downloading or purchasing recovery software.
6. Is the Mac file recovery app free, or at least affordable?
All of us want to do the most with the least budget, which applies to data recovery as well. However, 'expensive vs. free' is not necessarily the best question to ask. You should select a tool that provides the most attractive features—including visible preview results—while also being free or affordable for you, and our top choice is iBoysoft data recovery software for Mac.
FAQ about Free Mac Data Recovery Software
There is freeware for Mac data recovery. If you know command lines, PhotoRec for Mac is a great choice. Otherwise, you can give the free Lazesoft Data Recovery a try, which hasn't been updated for years, but people reported success on macOS Catalina.
To retrieve deleted files from your external hard drive without software on Mac, you have these options:
1) Put them back from Trash if not permanently deleted.
2) Restore deleted files from Time Machine if you have it set up before.
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, follow these steps.
Firstly, install iBoysoft Data Recovery to a different partition from where the lost file is stored to avoid overwriting the deleted files. Then open the software and select the target partition. Lastly, find and recover the deleted files. Once the recovery process finishes, you will see the recovered files in the original location.
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.
iBoysoft Data Recovery is the best data recovery software for Mac because it supports the recovery of Intel-based and M1/M2/M3 Macs and commonly-used external storage devices with an intuitive interface and a success rate of up to 99%.