Disk Drill Review
In case you don’t know, an accident can occur, where all your data like photos, videos, movies, etc. gets erased from your drives. Under such conditions, the look on your faces is more than enough to tell us how severe things can be!
For such scenarios, our first instinct is to look for ways to recover those lost files. With so many methods in market for Data Recovery, it is really stressful to decide which one is trustworthy and will work for us. These tools must also be workable for the device we have.
- The product has one of the most rudimentary UI with detailed features.
- Data recovery has several methods like quick scan, deep scan, etc.
- The scan time period was decent, and the file recovery was fast.
- Recent sessions tab to directly resume recovery from last five scans.
- Users can mount external image files for recovering data.
- Inbuilt explorer in pro version, displays results like in an OS file explorer.
- We can directly create a disk image of a partition with Byte-to-Byte Recovery, and can restore it on separate systems.
- Recovery vault indexes the selected drive, to increase the chances of data recovery. Guaranteed Recovery feature to recover files with 100% success rate.
- Drive backup to save disk data on other systems.
- Support for almost every drive systems like NTFS, FAT32, HFS+, EXT3/4, etc. Can support recovery of more than 300 distinct file types.
- Disk Allocation tool to see the file/folder path info in the drive.
- The recovery outcomes were not appropriate for larger video and audio files.
- The preview doesn’t work correctly many times. Large video files loaded by other tools were not previewed in it.
- The file categorization is mediocre in scan result view.
- No mention of supported file formats in the software interface.
- macOS has more features than the Windows version, which lacks many customization
- No pre-scan or post-scan settings.
- The file filter from the scanned results is mediocre. Needs additional filtering options.
- File recovery is still nasty and won’t recover many old files.
- No UI option to choose recovery for distinct deletion methods. It won’t display either file health, or recovery chances.
- Quite pricy compared to services provided.
- Disk backup doesn’t have a cloud backup
- Data Allocation needs superior improvisation as free file-tree tools have much better UI and lower scan time.
- No options to configure scan, recovery, schedule, and other preferences in it.
In the market of Data Recovery Tools, there is one more product which you came looking here, i.e., Disk Drill, from cleverfiles.com. This product was revealed in year 2009, in the USA. The product is under acquisition of 508 Software, LLC. The developers of the product are from cleverfiles.com.
Basically, the product was made for macOS, and later in year 2015, the first edition for Windows was launched. The setup is really uncomplicated to configure and use. They are primarily based on role of recovering data from drives.
Apart from this, they also have included data protection, drive backup, and all such recovery features. In our analysis, inspecting all of them is obligatory. So without wasting time, let’s break a leg(not literally!).
Brushing up Through the Features
First of all, the setup from Disk Drill does include a free version for testing. There are only some minor differences within this setup. Currently, only significant one we found, was that there is a limit of 500 MB data recovery on free version.
Also, the disk image feature is for preview only, and cannot be used fully. Other than that, Disk Drill features are free to test. Now, after getting correct version for your system, we have to check for the drives that need recovery.
The opening panel contains a detailed view of disk drives attached to the system. On the top portion, it will show primary partition, and then below it, the sub-partitions we created for storing non-system data.
On the left pane, options for file recovery, protection, and backup are arranged. The top menu has an option to toggle view of drives in either tree view, or detailed view.
Another option is the container menu. From here, users can filter the drives based on hardware disks, logical volumes, other drives, and hidden drives. The pane of right will show thorough info of selected drive.
Items like volume name, size info, device info, file system, volume path, etc. are presented here. There is tab for Recovery Options too. In here, you can select the recovery method viz. quick scan, deep scan, lost partitions, allocate data, and undelete protected files.
Select a drive, then preferred recovery method, and let it scan for lost data. After this, you can opt to try various other features of this tool. As we move through these features, we can review them one by one.
For review purpose, we had an empty volume already in use since couple of years. Also, we added many files to it, and then deleted them using normal delete and secure delete. The data included variety of files like media files, documents, and many large files too.
We will try to recover all these data and check if the files recovered are corrupted or not. So, let us start from the essential recovery functions.
Data Recovery Features in Disk Drill
As we have mentioned, we have to examine various data recovery features in Disk Drill one by one. Of all of these recovery types, some of them are normal deletion, while some of them are for partition deletion.
Usually, readers can swiftly grasp the concept of data recovery. Memory in your drives is stored in blocks. Each of these blocks then form segments. You might have heard of a drive specs called per sector memory.
These blocks are used aptly by the OS manager. Data added to your machine is filled into these blocks. Eventually, some of them get removed as well.
In that case, data from these blocks are only rendered inaccessible, and not totally removed. This data is then highly compressed in the cache memory of drive. That is why, a usable drive space is always lower than the original advertised one.
Data from these blocks can be recovered too. You can use a drive wiper tool to erase this cache memory completely. After that, this data is permanently gone.
Once you have tools to access these blocks, the data lost can be recovered. There are advanced methods too which can recover data from drives wiped a couple of times. This will be out of scope of this discussion, so we’ll keep things simple here.
Quick Scan For Recently Deleted Items
As we have seen in almost every other data recovery tool, they always provide users with a quick scan button. This is used for freshly deleted items. So, how does this feature work? Will the files be in their proper format after recovery?
Currently, we cannot comment on the file health after recovery. All we can do is try to use the recovery function. As the name advocates, this functions is aimed for recent file deletions.
The recent files are in top end of the disk cache, and they can be retrieved faster, so the name Quick Scan. The recovery depends on how files got lost, and how recent was its deletion. Most commonly, a recent deletion can recover files up to last 6 months.
As we have explained above, the longer a file’s deletion time goes, lesser are its chances of recovery. And so, we can simply guess the period to be around 3-6 months depending on the usage of that disk.
Now, select a drive for scanning, and then use quick scan button from the right pane. The scan took around 5 minutes for our 180 GB drive. After which, the scan results were displayed.
There is both basic, as well as a detailed preview of these files. Disk Drill has given one more fantastic feature with these scan results.
They have given an OS explorer view too. This feature will mount a virtual drive to the system. In this virtual drive, users can view the results as they view in an OS explorer.
The only con is that this is only for the pro-users. We wish they could have added a short time preview for this. Nevertheless, the scan results were in front of us.
Users just need to select the files they want to recover, and use the Recover Now button. After that, we tried to recover some files. Some of them were text files, whereas others were media files.
After using checkboxes to recover files, we were a bit surprised. Media files, especially video files, were not working. Even the preview of the video wasn’t working.
This was a nuisance. These files were easily reviewable with tools like EaseUS, Stellar, etc. This is unexpectable, to be honest. We repeated these steps couple of times, but still the files were corrupted after recovery.
Other than that, many recently deleted items were not displayed in the scan results, which was again a downer. Now, it is for users to judge the tool. File preview worked fine for smaller files, but things went south for larger files.
With this, we finish the quick scan review. For now, it was decent for scanning small files, but there were some issues with the bigger files. The doc files recovery was working well. Large media files, and image files had some issue getting recovered adequately.
Checking the Scan Results
While using a recovery tool, one of the most sought after feature was a scan result viewer. So, what is the importance of such a viewer? Can’t we just recover all the files together? Why check this abysmal feature?
It may sound inferior to some people, but scan results also play a vital role in data recovery tools. Will you be able to recover a file you want, if the tool just shows random files without name, size, type, or preview?
This can be difficult, especially if scan results are excessive. Result viewer helps to sort out files we want, as well as allows us to preview files, and other specifics.
In case of Disk Drill, the scan results are quite stimulating. The results are arranged in proper order in the central pane, with file categories on left pane. There is a preview window on the right side. The top portion has options to toggle view, search, and filter files.
The bottom corner has an image mount option to see the scan results on a virtually mounted drive. This is already elaborated by us before. Now, for the file explorer here, Disk Drill has done it appropriately.
The file category on the side allows sorting these results viz., images, audio, videos, documents, archives, and others. Checkboxes are given on each of them for selections. The preview works for some files ,while it won’t work for others.
With tools like EaseUS Data Recovery, Stellar Recovery, etc., the preview was way too smooth. Even large file like Blu-ray files were somewhat playable. The sort function was decent too.
In the other tools, they have ability to scan for specific file-type from the start, which is not present in Disk Drill. This has to be rectified soon. Without that, we can do entire disk scan only to recover bunch of unnecessary files, and waste hours.
In the filter section too, users have a choice to filter it based on size and deletion date. The deletion size range is distinct here. There are more than 10 size selection given from 0 KB to 4 GB. Selecting one of them will show files equal to, or greater than the selected size.
Next for the delete history. Some people may notice that it won’t reveal results for undeleted files. Unlike other recovery tools viz., Recuva, Stellar Recovery, EaseUS, etc., there are no specifications in the scan results regarding the data deletion type, i.e., partition lost, deleted files, undeleted files, etc.
This can be easily added as a color code in the scan results, which we expect Disk Drill to implement. Finally, one last thing we looked for is a Save Session button. This feature is now too much essential in every data recovery software.
With the Save Session button, we can let the drives be scanned fully for hours, and due to time or work constraints, we can save them and later on recover data based on this session.
When you click the session button, it will ask to point the save file location. Once the file loads, it will present a short summary with the drive name, drive type, size, recovery method chosen, and net scan-time. Hit Continue Button to review scan results in detail.
Overall, the scan results were arranged adequately. Users won’t have issues searching for their files. One more thing they need to do, is to increase filter criteria in pre/post scan, like in EaseUS, and Stellar data recovery. Except this, they have done first-class work here.
Using Deep-Scan to Find Long-Lost Files
After experiencing the results of quick scan, you might realize that a quick scan was not able to find older files. The results only depicted recently removed files.
For recovering deep-rooted files, we need to dig through every sector. For that, recovery tools employ deep scan feature. Access the deep scan from main setup after you select a drive for recovery.
The deep scan usually takes a lot of time regardless of drive size and amount of cache stored in it. For us, it seized nearly 50 minutes to scan a 180 GB drive. It is suggested you do this with less background apps, and in free time.
After the scan was completed, it will show results for the data it deems as recoverable. Although, not each of them has a chance for a full recovery, but getting them in scan results is important too.
The scan results were quite similar to other tools. With Disk Drill, we got around 35k files/77 GB data to be recovered. Compared to others, Recuva was able to return 64k files/90 GB.
With a much superior program like EaseUS data recovery, we got 125k files/116 GB data. This shows that the deep scan has probably left many results in scanning process. This can be due to the limits of supported file formats too.
Now, use the left side navigation bar to see the deep scan results. Based on many categories, they have divided files as per their format. You can see files categorized in their respective type folders, i.e., MP4, MP3, PNG, JPG, DOC, etc.
With all these, it was still an issue to figure out the file formats left out by Disk Drill. They must have added a distinct menu here to display the file types supported for recovery.
If you compare it with tools like Stellar Recovery and EaseUS, they haven’t included file formats for a variety of products like AutoCAD files, Flash files, CorelDraw files, and many such unique product files. Disk Drill can augment them all in their scan results. One of the reasons for fewer files while scanning, is no provision for additional file format.
One way is to scan for every file, and assign a separate folder to it based on its extension. Although it will drastically surge scan results, it can help us to recollect unconventional files we lost during deletion.
Concluding here, we found that deep scan needs some more improvements as we conversed above. Also, the UI for preview needs to be configured appropriately. We weren’t able to see the preview of many files using deep scan, which otherwise was possible in many top products. The filter section also needs improvement.
Data Allocation Feature
This is something new even in our testing among so many data recovery tools. There is nothing much to be explored here, to be honest. We will therefore keep things here brief.
The Disk Allocation in Disk Drill is similar to a file viewer program. Many times, files are inaccessible in the regular OS file explorer. It can be due to permission issues, or the file has some hidden attributes.
Generally, these files are scanned by a program, and then it returns their status. We used it to test drives, and compare the results to a file explorer tool.
With data allocation tool in Disk Drill, we could find the hidden system files too. Compared to some file list creator programs, Disk Drill found out every file type. Even the deep hidden system files.
With our scan for the test drive, Disk Drill returned total 25 files worth 2.85 GB, whereas other programs like File Tree, Jam View, etc. were able to show 18 files with same size. They may have missed some of the hidden files.
Comparatively, there are lots of improvement needed in Disk Drill’s Data Allocation feature. Above program were too small yet had advanced UI options to generate different views of the drive’s memory.
They also showed info on cluster size, as well as average file size, pie charts of each file size, drive allocation of each file, and many such details. Since Disk Drill is marketing it as one of the features, they need to take it at a level beyond these free tools.
For more noticeable results, we also used the scan to check files in the main system drive. Since the program had majority of files under other section shade, it may be difficult for many to find the correct version.
For the system drive, Disk Drill found 205k files/54.3 GB whereas the tools mentioned above managed to get 206k files/54.421 GB. The results are quite varied in both sections. Only issue with Disk Drill’s feature is the UI representation.
Also, the lack of a file tree affects comparing the results accurately. They must also add an export button to save the results in formats like pdf, text, etc. Overall, it is an excellent feature to check the number of files on your system.
Data Protection In Disk Drill
Now, recovering data is one thing, but how about taking precautions early? Can we can use data protection for our essential files to use in case of emergency?
With all this, it may be possible that we are suggesting towards a data backup program. Although data backup software is most reliable to safeguard the data on your drives, we need to purchase one more product for that.
However, for Disk Drill, they have given a data protection feature inbuilt in the system. Isn’t it wonderful? Well, let us find out how Disk Drill’s data protection works?
First of all, for any kind of data protection, we need to monitor target files primarily. Without that, the program won’t be able to index the metadata.
And for that, Disk Drill has already incorporated a drive monitor program. Now, there is a separate tab on left pane of main interface. Go to the data protection tab, and from here, it shows files and folders protected by Disk Drill.
Users can pick the drive they want from top drop-down menu, and select the drive/partition to protect. Sadly, it does not support network drives for now.
Regardless, use the switch button to turn protection ON for a drive. After that, Disk Drill will begin monitoring that drive. Whenever you perform an action related to file modification, it will generate metadata for it, and save that info, especially when you delete a file.
Overall, this feature eventually increases the chances of data recovery from that drive. Disk Drill has categorized this protection in two ways. One is the Recovery Vault, and another one is Guaranteed Recovery.
So, things got somewhat confusing now; how are these two different? Well, Recovery Vault works by generating metadata of the protected files; whereas Guaranteed Recovery only stores a copy of the file in a drive system.
From this, it’s evident that guaranteed recovery takes more space, but has higher chances of recovering data, in case of data loss. Both of these functions monitor the protected folders from background.
It takes nominal amount of processing while monitoring. However, the risks with guaranteed recovery rise in forensic investigations. Since the files are indexed separately, and are probably recoverable, this can screw up your privacy.
Users can manually input the criteria for space used in guaranteed recovery. In case of recovery vault, the cache data is going to be very small, and so it won’t affect the storage space as much as previous one.
All in all, these features are useful for recovery tools, and make it easier for us to recover files. Only issue here is that guaranteed recovery isn’t available in Windows version. There is only a toggle switch, and add/remove folder option for the recovery vault. We can expect to see more features in the Windows version in future updates.
Create Disk Image for Guaranteed Backup
With the above setup, we got an idea of how most programs are saved by the Disk Drill. In this section, Disk Drill has used straight approach.
In above cases, it generates cache. If that cache is removed accidentally, we can kiss goodbye to all those long efforts.
To counter that, we need a sure method to safeguard our data. This is where Disk Drill’s Drive Backup comes handy. Accessible from the main panel itself, this tools creates an image of the selected partition, and then we can load this disk to recover data from it.
The backup image can be either saved on same drive, or you can connect an external drive, or use a network drive too. Just pick the drive for backup, choose an output drive, and hit Create Backup.
Once done, this file can be directly loaded from the explorer. It will open a session in Disk Drill where you can restore its data. When you directly open this drive, you can see an extra drive on main panel.
This is same disk image you opened, albeit, mounted as a disk drive. From here, it is easy to opt for scanning the drive, and recovering data from it.
One advantage we can have here, is that we can restore old data from this disk image on other systems too, with main system being used for something else. This is a helpful time-saver feature.
Using it entirely from top to bottom, we have comprehended that Disk Drill is an efficient product. Although not as much detailed as many costlier counterparts like EaseUS and Stellar Recovery, it has tried best to benefit users in recovering their data.
Honestly, the macOS version is much better than Windows version. Only issue was that the features lacked additional customization; like in deletion based recovery, scan results, filters, pre-scan filters, etc. It also lacked drive scan feature like health checker for disks, sector scan for corrupt sectors, RAID recovery, etc.
Some of the sections needed more brush-up like file preview, file filters, advanced settings in the data protection wizard, options to add notes, drive allocation tool, etc. These minor changes can significantly improve this software’s working.
Other than that, Disk Drill has given better performance than many other similar products. The pricing of the tool was also at $130 for pro-plan, with lifetime upgrades. This was under the range of products like EaseUS, Stellar Recovery, etc.
Because of this, the software loses some value, since these products at a similar range, offer much better features and facilities. If they improve as above recommendation, and include RAID recovery too, it can be much better deal. But, if you want to buy it anyways, the macOS version is much better choice for Apple Desktops.
With this, our conclusion on this product finishes. Most of the things were great along with a fast and reliable recovery. If you readers find anything more after using it, let us know those secrets below!