1. Recuva Free
Conveniently available in a portable version, Recuva Free is very easy to use. A wizard asks you what type of files you’re looking for, and where to search, then scans your system at speed. Any files found are listed (with previews for images), and you can restore anything you need in a couple of clicks.
2. Undelete 360
Undelete 360 is the free version of a commercial product, and so leaves out some useful features. These still appear in the interface, though, and suggest you upgrade if you ever click on them, which can be annoying.
3. MiniTool Partition Recovery
Standard undelete programs are perfect for recovering a few files, but if you’ve lost an entire partition then you’ll probably benefit from a specialist application like MiniTool Partition Recovery. The free program has a wizard-based interface which makes it very straightforward to use.
4. Wise Data Recovery
It’s hard to imagine how any undelete tool could be simpler than Wise Data Recovery. There are no menus, no complicated options or dialog boxes: all you do is choose a drive, click Scan, and wait as the program locates any deleted files.
PhotoRec is an extremely powerful undelete tool with very few restrictions. It’s free for everyone, runs almost everywhere, works with most file systems and device types, uses in-depth knowledge of more than 200 file formats to help recover your data, and the bundled TestDisk can even recover a deleted partition.
FreeUndelete is aging, slow, free for personal use only, and didn’t manage to retrieve anything from our FAT drive – not a good start. Point the program at an NTFS drive, though, and the story is much different, with FreeUndelete locating all our missing files.
7. Paragon Rescue Kit Free
If your PC has been trashed so badly that it won’t boot at all, then any undelete tools you’ve installed previously will be useless. But Paragon Rescue Kit Free is different. It comes on an image which you burn to CD, and if disaster strikes then you just boot from the disc and go to work.
8. Glary Undelete
Another no-frills package, Glary Undelete takes a fairly basic approach to data recovery. There’s really nothing to do beyond choosing a drive to scan, clicking Search, and waiting for the program to finish.
9. Pandora Recovery
Unlike some of the competition, Pandora Recovery doesn’t just present the files it finds in a single list. You can also browse them in an Explorer-like folder view, or use an excellent search tool to filter them by file name, size, creation or “last modified” dates. Images can be previewed, too.
10. PC Inspector File Recovery
PC Inspector File Recovery did well in our tests, correctly locating the full set of missing files on both FAT and NTFS drives. These are clearly presented in a simple folder view, there’s also a simple search dialog to help you locate files by name, and the program can then restore them to local or network drives.