External drive recovery software – Trusted rating 2023

There are many ratings that compare various data recovery tools - their capabilities, prices, ease of use, and various other important features for the user. However, such ratings need to be constantly reviewed and modified as prices may change, new features may be added, developers may make changes and thus improve scan times. We will try to make an up-to-date rating (for 2023) of the five most famous programs for data recovery from an external hard drive.

An external drive is used very often in everyday life - someone backs up important files to an external drive, someone stores an archive of family photos on such a drive, for other users an external drive is a way to transfer data from work computers to a personal PC, while someone watches their favorite movies and series from the hard drive by connecting it to the TV. And precisely because an external drive is a portable device, very often users are faced with data loss. Users often forget to use the safely remove device mode which often leads to a file system failure; sometimes users drop the hard drive, which leads to mechanical damage of the device, or tritely delete some important data by mistake in a hurry.

In this review, we test the following external drive recovery tools: ReclaiMe File Recovery, Easeus, Cleverfiles, HandyRecovery, and the free Recuva. As an object of testing, we take 1 TB Transcend external drive. The test plan is as follows:

  1. Deleting a couple of files and deleting a folder containing 2 files.
  2. Run a scan with each of the tools and evaluate the recovery results.
  3. Estimate the speed of recovering deleted files.
  4. Evaluate the simplicity of the interface of each data recovery tool.
  5. Compare prices.

Before testing, the hard disk was formatted, and three folders were written to it:

External drive recovery comparison
  • Video folder storing 5 files,
  • Images folder storing 23 files,
  • Articles folder storing 2 files.

We deleted the Articles folder completely, from the Images folder we deleted 2 pictures with the names cat-jump and cat-speed.

External drive recovery deletion

ReclaiMe File Recovery

The tool can be downloaded from the website - www.ReclaiMe.com.

We find the required disk in the list of devices and click Start.

Disk selection in ReclaiMe

The initial scan is completed in a couple of seconds and here is the the result.

Recovered files in ReclaiMe

Open the Recycle.Bin folder and see that our deleted pictures are in there.

Check images in ReclaiMe

We also see the deleted Articles folder storing 2 pdf files.

Check pdf files in ReclaiMe

Conclusions: ReclaiMe software found the deleted files along with their names and sizes in a matter of seconds. Files are displayed good in the Preview window, which gives confidence that they will open correctly after saving. To save the data, you need to buy a license key which costs 89.95 USD. It is also worth noting that the key is life-time and can be installed on any number of computers the user owns.


The program can be downloaded from the website – www.easeus.com.

We found our disk in the list of devices and click Scan.

Disk selection in Easeus

After a few seconds, the tool displays the found files. It recovered all deleted files. However, the Preview of deleted files looks bad, we don't see the whole image:

Preview in Easeus

To save the recovered files, you need to buy a key, which costs 69.95 USD. However, the site states that the key works only for 1 month. That is, if you need to recover data, say, in a couple of months, you will need to pay again. In addition, this key works by subscription, meaning that if you forget to delete your bank card details, you will be charged once a month. Be careful when making a purchase. Also keep in mind that many reviews on the TrustPilot site say that the company does not refund the money, despite the stated 30-day money back guarantee.

Disk Drill

After a rather lengthy installation process, we see a window where we need to select a device for scanning. Devices are displayed with their physical names. For example, we do not know that inside our external drive there was a drive from the Toshiba manufacturer. Select our external drive and click the Search for lost data button.

Disk selection in DiskDrill

Files are displayed quite quickly, but the view is not clear. We should look for pictures in Pictures, Documents in another folder. For our simple case with a few deleted files, it is acceptable to switch from one folder to another, but if there were hundreds of deleted files, it would be very difficult to understand what is where. In addition, there is Preview only for pictures, but not for pdf files.

Images preview in DiskDrill Pdf preview in DiskDrill

The price is 89 USD.

Handy Recovery

You can download the software from the site - www.handyrecovery.software.

The device selection window displays all logical devices. We do not know what will happen if there is file system failure. Select our volume and click Analyze.

Drive selection in HandyRecovery

Software displays the original folder hierarchy. Our deleted files are in the Recycle.bin folder. However, the filenames are not restored. This is extremely inconvenient if you are dealing with a large number of deleted files. For pdf, the preview is displayed in an incomprehensible way. There is no feeling that the pdf was restored correctly.

images preview in HandyRecovery Pdf preview in HandyRecovery

The price of a license key is 49 USD. We did not find information on the refund policy on the site.


You can download the software from the website - www.ccleaner.com

After installation, the software opens several dialog boxes where it asks which files we want to recover, on which device and so on.

Drive selection in Recuva

After such communication, the tool started the scan, but during the quick scan it did not find anything and offered to run a deep scan. Estimated time is indicated as 11 hours. Although the software says that it found 62 files, but when you click on the Cancel button, the found files are not displayed. So, we were unable to estimate the quality of the recovery due to the long scan time.

Bad result in Recuva

General conclusions - all shareware software coped with such an easy task as recovering deleted data from an external hard drive. The free Recuva requested 11 hours to scan, so we couldn't estimate the result. It is most convenient to evaluate the recovered data in the ReclaiMe software, it clearly shows the preview of the file both for pictures and for pdf files. In addition, ReclaiMe recovered deleted files with their original names and sizes.

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