Editorials

Disk Drill for Windows: An In-depth Review of the Tool14 min read

May 6, 2022 11 min read

Reading Time: 11 minutesIn our in-depth review of Disk Drill, we’ll delve deep into the main features of the tool, and most importantly, its data recovery capabilities. We’ll also take a look at the numerous additional features of the tool and how they make the user’s life easier.

Disk Drill for Windows: An Overview

Before moving on to the main features of Disk Drill for Windows, let’s take a look at the basic characteristics of the tool and how it fares in these parameters:

Latest Versionv4.4.613
Price Range$89 (Pro), $499 (Enterprise)
Supported Windows VersionsWindows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11
Number of Supported File Types400+
Supported File SystemsFAT16 / FAT32, exFAT, NTFS / NTFS5, HFS / HFS+, APFS, ReFS, ext2 / ext3 / ext4

With 400+ supported file formats, and an extensive support for a range of file systems, Disk Drill’s primary strength is its sheer versatility. With regard to file systems, none of Disk Drill’s main competitors (Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery, Stellar Data Recovery, and Recoverit Data Recovery) support the APFS file system.

ParameterDisk DrillRecuvaEaseUS Data Recovery WizardRecoverit Data RecoveryStellar Data Recovery
Recovery speedFastAverageFastFastSlow
Phone supportNoNoYesYesYes
Email supportYesYesYesYesYes
File signatures quantity400+5010001000200
RAW devices scanYesNoYesPartialPartial
File previewYesPartialPartialPartialPartial
Tutorials built in appYesNoNoNoNo

Main Features of Disk Drill

Disk Drill comes with a whole host of features that allow you to recover all your data in a user-friendly way. Some main features of Disk Drill include:

User Interface

After using Disk Drill, it’s clear that the developers have placed special emphasis on user-friendliness. Right from the colorful, minimalist UI, to the simple language that is used. At no point, does the program feel overwhelming, even for new users.

As soon as you launch Disk Drill, you’re placed on the Data Recovery screen. Here you can select entire storage devices, or individual partitions to scan for missing files. There’s a drop-down menu that allows you to select scan types, in most cases it’s highly recommended to use the All recovery methods option for a thorough scan.

Additional features like Data Protection, and Drive Backup are clearly accessible using a familiar navigation bar on the left. The scan button is clearly labelled as Search for lost data, right below the scan options.The home screen of Disk Drill.

Users can also opt to sort the storage devices using the Tree format or a detailed list, using the sort option below the title bar. Another highlight of Disk Drill’s UI, are the built-in tutorials that guide users around the application.

Data Recovery

The primary purpose of Disk Drill is data recovery, and the program excels at it. We were surprised at the amount of recoverable data that was discovered by the program, even when simply performing a quick scan that took only a couple of minutes.

Another important aspect of the data recovery process in Disk Drill, is the ability to access previous scans in the future. Furthermore, the scan can be paused and resumed at any time.

After the scan is over, you can preview the files and confirm whether they’re completely recoverable. Disk Drill also displays the recovery chances next to each file type:

🟢 High = green

🟡 Average = yellow

🟠 Low = orange

⚪ Unknown = grey

On the file recovery screen, there is an extensive filter feature that allows you to filter files by: minimum file size, time frame of the deletion, and recovery chances. You can also opt to view the recoverable files in the Windows Explorer.

Byte to Byte Backup

One of our favorite, and most useful features of Disk Drill, is the byte-to-byte backup feature. This feature lets you create a disk image of the selected storage device, right down to the byte level. You can then scan the created disk image for lost data.

Scanning disk images is a good practice, as it prevents further damage to the data loss affected storage device. Repeated scans cause unnecessary stress to the storage device, resulting in further data loss.

Here’s how you can use the byte-to-byte backup feature:

  1. Open Disk Drill.
  2. Click on the Drive Backup option under Extras.
  3. Select the storage device you want to create a disk image of. You can select individual partitions as well.
  4. Click on the Byte-to-byte backup button at the top.Byte-to-byte backup screen in Disk Drill.
  5. Now, choose a directory to save the disk image. You can modify various parameters like file name and file format. Ensure that the Format option is set to Bytes.Byte-to-byte backup parameters window.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Disk Drill will begin creating the image. It may take some time, depending on how large the image is.

To scan the created disk image for recoverable data, simply go to Data Recovery> Attach disk image. Locate the disk image, and it will be added as a virtual disk in the data recovery screen.

Disk Drill Cost and License Tiers

While Disk Drill is free to download and install, if you want to recover more than 500 MB of data, you will have to purchase a Pro license.

Here is a breakdown of the pricing plans for Disk Drill:

Disk Drill BasicDisk Drill ProDisk Drill Enterprise
Price: FreePrice: $89 (+$29 for Lifetime Upgrades.)

Lifetime license.

Price: $499 (+$99 for Lifetime Upgrades.)

Lifetime license.

Recovery up to 500 MBUnlimited Data RecoveryUnlimited Data Recovery
1 user1 user with up to 3 simultaneous activations.10 users with unlimited activations.
Some scan types are greyed out.All recovery methods are available.All recovery methods are available.

Out of all these plans, Disk Drill Pro is the most value for money. If you need to recover a small amount of data, then you don’t need to purchase a license at all, since the free version offers data recovery of up to 500 MB.

How to Download and Install Disk Drill

You can download and install the Disk Drill recovery app for Windows, as you would any other program.

Before you proceed with the installation, keep in mind the system requirements for Disk Drill–a system running Windows XP or above with a minimum resolution of 1280*720.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Open your browser and download Disk Drill for Windows.
  2. Run the downloaded setup file.
  3. Click on Yes when presented with the User Account Control prompt.
  4. In the installation wizard, click Install. You’ll need admin privileges to do so.
  5. Disk Drill will begin installing.
  6. After the installation is over, simply click on Launch or Close.

How to Use Disk Drill for Windows 10

To make things easier, we’ll go through the step-by-step instructions for data recovery using Disk Drill.

We’ll take two data recovery scenarios: a USB drive, and an internal HDD.

Scenario 1: USB Drive

  1. Open Disk Drill using the desktop shortcut.
  2. Ensure you’re on the Data Recovery tab.
  3. Select the partition or storage device you want to recover data from. In this case, it’s the USB drive. You can also choose to scan a disk image by clicking the Attach disk image option.
  4. Select the scan level using the drop-down menu. Click on Search for lost data to begin the scan.Data recovery from a USB drive using Disk Drill.
  5. Upon scan completion, you can either click on Review found items to view all the recoverable files, or you can directly click on a file type (such as Pictures) to view only those files.Review found items screen in Disk Drill.
  6. On the recovery screen, double-click on a file to see a preview of the file. This is especially useful when recovering images. Additionally, Disk Drill will clearly display the recovery chances for each file, next to it. Further filtering the files is as simple as clicking the Filters option and adjusting the parameters according to your needs.
  7. To recover a file, simply select it using the checkbox next to its name and click Recover.File recovery screen in Disk Drill.
  8. Choose a recovery location for the files. It’s advisable to choose a storage device other than the one that was scanned. Selecting the same storage device can overwrite other missing data. Click on OK.Recovered data save location window.
  9. Disk Drill will recover the selected files to your desired location. You can view them in Windows Explorer, by clicking Show recovered data in Explorer button.File recovery complete screen.

Scenario 2: Internal HDD

  1. Launch Disk Drill.
  2. Select the affected partition or the entire internal HDD on the Data Recovery tab.
  3. This time we’ll use Quick Scan, so set the scan type to Quick Scan using the drop-down menu.
  4. Click on Search for lost data and wait for Disk Drill to finish scanning the selected drive. The entire process shouldn’t take long. In our test, it took about 1 minute for Disk Drill to finish scanning a 250 GB HDD partition.Disk Drill home screen.
  5. Once the scan is over, click on Review found items. Again, you can choose to click on a particular file type to filter out the results.Recover lost files screen in Disk Drill.
  6. Select the files you want to recover and click on the Recover button.File recovery selection screen in Disk Drill.
  7. Choose a recovery location for the files. Note how Disk Drill warned us when we tried to save the recovered files in the same partition.File recovery destination screen.
  8. Click on OK and wait for Disk Drill to finish saving the selected files.

Additional Features of Disk Drill

In addition to data recovery and backup, Disk Drill also comes with many nice-to-have features that are quite useful. These features include:

Data Protection Feature

Disk Drill comes with a Recovery Vault, that stores data for a predefined period of time. It acts like an additional security measure, should you accidentally delete files from the protected folders.

The best part is that the feature is completely free, and it offers instant file recovery.

To use the Recovery Vault, follow these steps:

  1. Open Disk Drill.
  2. Click on Data Protection below Extras.
  3. Click Yes if Disk Drill displays a prompt. This will start the data protection feature.
  4. On the next screen, click OK, let’s do it.
  5. In the Recovery Vault, use the Add and Delete options to modify the folders that are protected.Data protection screen in Disk Drill.

Save and Load Scan Sessions

The scan and load feature works well if you’re short on time, and you want to recover your data later. Once you perform a data recovery scan using Disk Drill, the app automatically saves the session, so you can get back to it later.

In essence, you don’t need to perform the scan again. Simply, choose the scan session from under the Recent sessions tab. You can also manually save a session, by clicking the Save session as option on the Review found items screen.

You can then manually load this session by selecting the Load session option under Recent sessions.

S.M.A.R.T. Monitoring

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology and most modern storage drives come with this technology. It automatically detects and attempts to repair imminent hardware and software failures.

Disk Drill lets you check the S.M.A.R.T. status of your storage device easily. All you need to do is:

  1. Open Disk Drill and select the storage device.
  2. On the right side of the screen, click on S.M.A.R.T. Disk Drill will display the overall S.M.A.R.T. status of your drive.
  3. For more information, click on the Check all S.M.A.R.T. attributes button.S.M.A.R.T. attributes in Disk Drill.
  4. Disk Drill will display detailed S.M.A.R.T. info in a separate window.Detailed S.M.A.R.T. attributes in Disk Drill.

Does Disk Drill Work for Other Versions of Windows?

Simply put, yes it does. Whether you’re on Windows 7 or Windows XP, you can download and use Disk Drill.

Notably, it also has full-fledged Windows 11 compatibility. The data recovery process for Windows 11 is also similar to the one for Windows 10.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for data recovery in Windows 11, using Disk Drill:

  1. Open Disk Drill.
  2. By default, you should be placed on the Data Recovery screen. The UI is exactly the same as the one in Windows 10.
  3. Select the partition or drive you want to scan. This time, we’ll recover data from a partition in a non-TRIM SSD.
  4. Choose a scan type. We’re using All recovery methods to recover the most amount of data. Click on Search for lost data to begin the scan.Disk Drill home screen.
  5. We wanted to recover some lost videos, so we selected the Video option in the scan complete screen. If you want to see all file types, select Review found items.Review found items screen in Disk Drill.
  6. Select the files you want to retrieve and click on Recover.Recoverable files selection screen in Windows.
  7. Choose a recovery location for the files and click OK.

Important: We scanned a non-TRIM SSD in our review. In most cases, SSDs are TRIM-enabled, which makes DIY data recovery exceedingly difficult. If you’re using a TRIM-enabled SSD, always contact a professional data recovery service instead of performing the recovery yourself.

Verdict: Disk Drill

Recovering lost data using Disk Drill for PC was a pleasant experience. There were no technical hiccups whatsoever. The UI deserves a special mention for being welcoming, and the built-in tutorials do a stellar job in helping new users find their way around the application.

All in all, both new and experienced users need not look anywhere else for a capable data recovery solution.

We’re nitpicking, but if there is a lot of recoverable data, then full scans may take a while to complete. However, this is the case for most data recovery programs.

Pros

  • An easy-to-use interface that is not riddled with technical jargon.
  • Full-fledged file preview.
  • Advanced filtering feature for recoverable files.
  • Free trial of up to 500 MB of data recovery.
  • Useful goodies such as data protection and disk backup.
  • Wide compatibility across Windows and macOS.

Cons

  • Slow scanning speed.
  • Doesn’t run on Linux.
  • No phone support in case of an emergency.
  • The scan needs to be over or manually paused if you want to recover data.

FAQ