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Stellar Data Recovery review 2020

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Let’s face it: hardware failures happen and data takes the brunt of these unforeseeable predicaments. Storage media, including hard drives, USB memory sticks, and SD cards, are all susceptible to physical damage and the “aging” issue down the road. Plus, files can go missing in the aftermath of human error such as unintentional removal or overwriting. These mishaps aren’t necessarily all doom and gloom, though. One of the things that might bridge the gap between you and your no-longer-accessible data is software like Stellar Data Recovery.

This tool restores files from malfunctioning and formatted drive volumes. It supports a plethora of file formats, including Office documents, images, videos, archives, and emails. Even if the drive is non-bootable or encrypted, Stellar Data Recovery may be able to reinstate data that seems irreversibly lost. Virtual drives are supported, too. An additional feature on the plus side of this app is that it can repair distorted photos and videos in a snap.

Stellar Data Recovery – the key highlights

You can use this application on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. It requires at least 2 GB memory and 250 MB free disk space. The size of the stub installer is 46.9 MB. There is a free edition equipped with all the basic features – the only restriction is that it recovers up to 1 GB of data. All paid subscriptions offer an unlimited amount of data you can restore. The price ranges between $49.99 (Standard) and $299 (Toolkit) per annual subscription.

This product boasts amazing flexibility. If you know exactly what file type to look for, narrowing your search down to that format is a matter of a single click of a mouse. The home screen allows you to specify the category by choosing from the following options: Office documents, folders, emails, photos, audio, and videos. You can keep the default “All Data” mode enabled so that the program traverses your storage entities for everything that’s recoverable.

Select file types to recover

The next step is to select the location to recover from. This is an intuitive experience because the app displays all connected drives, including local disks and removable media, while additionally listing common storage paths such as the Desktop and Documents directory. The option that says “Choose location” uses File Explorer’s tree view logic and makes it easier to pinpoint the data you are looking for. Be advised that the utility doesn’t allow you to pick more than one path at a time, so the checkboxes work like radio buttons. For the record, Stellar Data Recovery supports NTFS, FAT (FAT16 and FAT32), and exFAT file systems.

At this stage, you can enable the Deep Scan toggle switch so that the program inspects the hardware for data more thoroughly. However, this will add a good deal of extra time – possibly hours – to the scan duration. That’s why we recommend trying a quick scan first to see if the app spots the required file. It only takes a few minutes and may locate a host of accidentally deleted or corrupted items.

Specify the location to recover fromAn awesome thing is that you can preview lost or removed items during the scan. This feature is turned on by default and can be disabled by clicking on the “Turn Off Preview” toggle (see screenshot below). Although it makes the scan slower, the benefits are worth the wait especially if you are looking for a photo. Once you notice that file in the Preview section, you can stop the scan and proceed with the recovery right away. Furthermore, the app allows you to resume such unfinished scans later on.

Scan in progress

In our lab test, it took Stellar Data Recovery about 50 seconds to check a 118 GB local disk for all types of images with the quick scan feature. Despite being lightning-fast, this check-up returned very impressive results. The app found more than 36,000 recoverable files, or roughly 44 GB of data. Almost all of these items were files and folders erased since the latest major Windows 10 build was installed. Therefore, if you want to spot older entities, consider launching the Deep Scan instead.

Scan reportEvery phase of the scan customization and data recovery is a user-friendly process where the features and toggles say exactly what they do. To fine-tune the application further so that it’s adjusted beyond the defaults, hit the gear icon (Advanced Settings) in the upper part of the GUI and specify your criteria such as the format of multimedia files, documents, archives, applications, and other types of data to look for.

Advanced settingsPros and cons


  • Intuitive GUI
  • Flexible controls
  • Excellent recovery scores
  • File preview
  • Scan pausing and resuming supported
  • Free version available


  • Lengthy deep scans
  • Fairly expensive paid subscriptions

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There are plenty of scenarios where your important documents or precious digital memories in the form of personal photos and videos might suddenly vanish. Aside from hardware crashes and inadvertent removal, the impact of growingly sophisticated ransomware entails data loss, too. Stellar Data Recovery can bring back some of these files even from a formatted, encrypted, or non-bootable drive.

Its scans are extensively customizable and the preview feature facilitates your search considerably. If the amount of data you need to recover is under 1 GB, then the free version will do the trick. All in all, this application is definitely one of the best of its kind. When important files are at stake, give it a shot and you’ll be surprised how powerful its recovery algorithms are.

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