Cleverfiles Disk Drill Review

At a Glance

Disk Drill is a free data recovery software for Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10 supported). It combines expert data recovery tools with utmost simplicity: Deep Scanning and Quick Recovery, powerful lost partition search and several file system healing methods, all within a free recovery of up to 500MB of lost data.

Expert’s Rating

Finally, CleverFiles offers enterprise licensing (for $399), which can be installed on an unlimited number of desktops. While Disk Drill is a relatively small outfit that lacks dedicated recovery (as with Seagate or Prosoft), the enterprise version of the software allows users to. Disk Drill is a set of tools for recovering data from, managing and analyzing mass storage devices. The application has been quite popular among Mac OS users for quite a while and the developer has ported the application to Windows. Read on in our Disk Drill Recovery Pro review to find out what we liked and what we didn’t like. Installation/User Experience Getting Disk Drill installed on our test system was quick, painless, and took less than three minutes from downloading on the CleverFiles site to having the software activated and ready for its first scan.

Pros

  • Robust data recovery for Mac, iOS, Android
  • Background disk health monitoring
  • Refreshed UI a better fit with current macOS aesthetic

Cons

  • iOS data recovery tends to be slow on larger capacity devices
  • No option to bypass scan of iCloud Photo Library

Our Verdict

Disk Drill 3 resurrects data on more than 200 internal or external media types regardless of what file systems they use, and now includes recovery for iOS and Android devices as well.

Best Prices Today

Price
US$
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide

Earlier this year I reviewed Disk Drill 2, a highly recommended utility for recovering data from any storage volume attached to your Mac, regardless of which file system it was created with. While the software exceeded expectations in terms of functionality, it was sorely lacking in visual flourish, with a user interface that seemed out of step with the current operating system.

I’m happy to announce this grievance has been addressed with the new Disk Drill 3, which not only sports a much-needed fresh coat of digital paint but also nicely spices up the existing buffet of tools.

iOS friendly

Like previous versions, Disk Drill 3 offers data recovery as a free download, which includes a handful of tools for monitoring disk health, identifying and removing unwanted files, performing data backups, and more. There’s also full support for macOS Sierra 10.12 (it works with OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5 or later), including the ability to create a bootable USB recovery drive in a few clicks.

Disk Drill 3 adds the ability to recover data from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, which is handy when an iOS update fails without a current backup available or an older device stops working because of water or other physical damage. It works the same: plug in the iOS device, click Recover, then select Camera Roll photos, videos, contacts, calendar, Voice Memo recordings, Notes, bookmarks, Messages chats, or call history data to resurrect. (Android devices are also supported when rooted or in USB mass storage mode.)

There is some sleight of hand involved, however. In the absence of an iTunes backup, Disk Drill 3 first creates one, a time-consuming process for those of us with larger capacity devices. My 128GB iPhone 6s Plus was about 80 percent full and took several hours to scan before recovery could take place. Judging from status updates, a lot of unnecessary time was spent scanning my entire iCloud Photo Library; a better solution would be an option to skip this content entirely, since it’s already backed up in the cloud.

Photoshop

The resulting backup doesn’t appear alongside others created in iTunes. Instead, it’s tucked away in the user’s Library, temporarily consuming valuable space on your system drive. Although the actual recovery happens quickly, I’d recommend importing an existing iTunes backup to expedite the process. (There’s no support for recovery from iCloud backups, but this feature is in the works.)

More speed, support

Although Disk Drill 3 won’t win awards for the iOS recovery speed, in almost every other regard, the software is faster than previous versions, and works harder at discovering files for recovery—up to 30 percent more, according to the developer. Byte-to-byte disk backups were quicker, as was mounting scan results as a disk image on the desktop, a handy feature that no longer requires the creaky old FUSE to be installed.

Disk Drill bulks up on support for native file systems (ExFAT, EXT4) and file signatures (Evernote XML notes, rich text documents, and others have been added). There’s also a new module to find and eliminate duplicate files, which worked quite well in my tests.

Last but not least, Disk Drill 3 offers a fresh new user interface, which now hides system partitions by default for a cleaner look and feel. There’s also a preference setting that offers more control over which disk types appear in the main view.

While the free version tackles the basics for most users, an $89 Pro upgrade allows a single user to run Disk Drill 3 on up to three Macs, adding a more comprehensive Deep Scan, the ability to search lost partitions, and rebuild catalogs on unmounted HFS+ formatted drives.

Bottom line

Disk Drill 3 again delivers the goods, and this time awesome data recovery tools are backed up by good looks and a more intuitive user interface.

Editor's Rating
Overall
Features
Price
Customer Service

Positives

  • Simple, straightforward user interface
  • Multiple customizable scanning options
  • Additional Recovery Vault protection
  • Free recovery of 500MB data
  • One license for three devices
  • Various discount options

Negatives

  • Expensive base price
  • Pay-only lifetime upgrades
  • Limited customer support

When it comes to data recovery solutions, there is a clear pattern that this kind of software goes through: first comes the Windows version followed by the Mac equivalent. With Disk Drill, however, it was the other way around; while the Mac version dates back as far as 2011, Disk Drill wasn’t released for PC until 2015. Despite this, Disk Drill quickly became a market leader and is even now considered one of the best data recovery apps for very good reasons. Disk Drill’s simple and straightforward interface is one thing, but it’s a total powerhouse that crams in numerous impressive scanning and recovery functions. Disk Drill also comes with a clever Recovery Vault feature with which your most important folders receive extra protection against accidental deletion. And not only does Disk Drill have a free version – which even allows users to recover a limited amount of data – but its paid counterpart can be used on multiple computers for as long as you wish.

Features

At first the user interface of Disk Drill may seem too simple but, actually, it’s one of the main strengths of the software. So much so that despite the program coming with a short, built-in tutorial, it won’t be needed at all; Disk Drill for PC aids users in almost every aspect from the get-go.

For starters, each time the software is launched it automatically detects all drives and partitions, although in the case of the latter you will need to turn off a filter to see all elements properly. Disk Drill doesn’t waste users’ time by displaying unnecessary or rarely used functions either, instead the process is made very simple: choose between quick and deep scans or just hit the “Recover” button to start the default scanning method immediately.

Selecting Files for Scanning

Disk drill pro reviews


Since Disk Drill focuses heavily on user-friendliness, there isn’t much available when it comes to additional settings, though more functions related to scanning and recovery are hidden behind the gear icon. This is also true for preferences, where it’s only possible to control whether the software should search for certain file types or all 286 of them at once.

Scanning

Without doubt, Disk Drill’s forte is scanning, and not just because it can be performed as many times as you want on virtually any kind of drive. The speed of initiating the scanning process on the selected drive or partition is made possible with the Recover button, but quite surprisingly Disk Drill chose to make deep scans the default setting. This may seem handy at first but since deep scans are typically very long, drawn-out processes, this could gravely slow down the recovery process for smaller drives and partitions. Thankfully, there is the option to perform quick scans from the drop-down menu, but note that this feature is only available for partitions. However, scans can be aborted, paused or saved and in fact before a scan is saved, Disk Drill properly alerts users to avoid saving it on the target drive to prevent any further data loss.

However, the actual scanning performance of Disk Drill’s PC version is quite exceptional. In our test, quick scan mode took less than 30 seconds to recall all 56 of the deleted files emptied from the Recycle Bin. Deep scan mode, on the other hand, also managed to locate the deleted files in their original location, too, albeit without their original file names.

Scan Results in Disk Drill

Clever Files Review


Data Recovery

There’s an effortlessness about Disk Drill for PC but nowhere is that more clear than with file recovery. For instance, search results can be filtered in various ways – file name, type, size, or modification date – to make finding certain items easier. The software comes with two preview modes, too: the regular one displays image files while hex preview mode reveals how damaged the file in question is. This way you’ll always be certain that the right files are recovered, because you should remember that there may be instances where Disk Drill won’t recover files with their names.

More annoying than that, however, is how the software always creates a certain number of folders and puts recovered files into them without any logic whatsoever – that is unless files were originally in a folder, because in this case the software always reconstructs the original folder structure.

The software’s attentiveness is also demonstrated in how – during the process of saving scans – the software properly warns users against saving files to the same drive that they were salvaged from. And in the case of Disk Drill Basic where users are limited to recovering 500MB of data for free, the recovery solution also records how much data has been and can be recovered before reaching the limit.

Filtering Results by File Type

Disk Drill Customer Service


Destination Folder Warning


Utilities

Although the number of utilities provided by Disk Drill for PC is quite limited, they are still worth talking about. Firstly, there is a button appropriately named “Extras” that hides the option to create an image file of a drive or partition, perfect for those who want to ensure they can recover their lost files without the fear of overwriting them. Then there is the option to perform a special kind of deep search, which is perfect for finding all partitions – lost or simply hidden – on a drive.

Can disk drill be trusted

Still, the most interesting utility function by far is the Recovery Vault. Despite working for partitions only, when this feature is activated any folders within this vault gain added protection from Disk Drill. Simply put, when a folder featured in this vault is accidentally deleted, all you have to do is click on “Undelete protected data” in the drop-down menu next to the “Recover” button and that folder will be restored exactly as it was in an instant, no matter when it was deleted.

The Recovery Vault Feature


Pricing

Despite the lack of a free trial or a money-back guarantee, the deals offered by developer CleverFiles are actually quite fair. For starters, the free version Basic contains all available features without any limitations and even allows users to recover up to 500MB of data without upgrading. Unlimited recovery is only available in PRO, the default paid product of the company available for $89, but for this price one license can be used on three PCs.

Disk Drill Pro Reviews

Note that even though the license itself is for life, it’s only by adding lifetime upgrades for an extra $29 will you receive updates to the software beyond the version purchased. This is included alongside unlimited users and installations as part of Disk Drill Enterprise by default, but this version comes at a jaw-dropping $399 price.

$0
  • 1 user, 1 PC
  • Unlimited scans
  • Lost partition finder
  • Recovery Vault with advanced file protection
  • Recovery of 500MB of data
$89
  • 1 user, 3 PCs
  • Unlimited scans
  • Lost partition finder
  • Recovery Vault with advanced file protection
  • Unlimited recovery
  • +$29 lifetime upgrades
$399
  • Unlimited users and PCs
  • Unlimited scans
  • Lost partition finder
  • Recovery Vault with advanced file protection
  • Unlimited recovery
  • Free lifetime upgrades
  • Priority support

Thankfully, there are plenty of discount options offered by CleverFiles. Users can upgrade from an older version to the latest version of Disk Drill for 50% off, and this discount is available to those who want to use the software on a Mac, too. Disk Drill can also be had for half price if you decide to switch from a competing paid data recovery product, too.

Customer Support

Unfortunately, the versatility of customer support provided for Disk Drill users is subpar, especially for those who opt for the software’s Windows version. For instance, the company’s help center – which serves as a blog, a knowledge base, and a coupons page – mostly focuses on Disk Drill for Mac. Granted, many of the articles describe general issues that could pop up in any version of the software, but newcomers might still assume that CleverFiles is neglecting Disk Drill for Windows users in favor of Mac enthusiasts. And the fact that the company’s YouTube channel is full of tutorials for Disk Drill for Mac only compounds the problem, too.

Disc Drill Review

The Email Enquiry Form


Thankfully, however, Windows users aren’t actually neglected at all, since any user can contact live support via email, an inquiry form, or live chat. While these aren’t available 24/7, the company’s staff is prepared to answer any kind of question in a prompt and courteous manner.

Bottom Line

Disk Drill is often considered to be one of the best data recovery solutions and we can only confirm this. Although there are certain issues with the software – such as putting recovered files into random folders – these are dwarfed by everything else about the solution. Its scanning and recovery functions are impressive alone, and not just because of how effectively they do their jobs but their versatility, too.

And not only does Disk Drill come with clever features like the Recovery Vault, but all of its functions are created in such a way that even the least tech-savvy users can recover lost files with ease. With the added bonus of the fact that a paid license can also be used on multiple devices, it’s safe to say that Disk Drill for PC is a must-have for anyone looking for a simple and reliable data recovery solution.