Data loss is almost inevitable, however diligent you are when it comes to backing up. Thankfully – if you ignore the privacy concerns – data is rarely lost forever even when it's deleted, and there's usually a window of opportunity in which, armed with the right tools, you can turn a disaster into a near miss.
Data recovery software is designed to trawl hard drives looking for leftover fragments of lost and deleted files, making it possible in many circumstances to restore those files to their original condition. Disk Drill is one such tool – and the major benefit for Mac owners is that it's currently completely free to use while it remains in beta.
Disk Drill offers the usual set of recovery features found in competing products: it works with a variety of drives, including memory cards and flash drives. It's designed to recover more than just accidentally deleted data; you can also attempt to restore files from missing or formatted partitions. And it works with a wide variety of disk formats, including NTFS and FAT as well as the Mac's own HFS/HFS+ format. All of this is tied up in a user-friendly interface.
What sets Disk Drill apart from the opposition is its “unique” Recovery Vault technology. One of the biggest drawbacks of recovering files from HFS/HFS+ partitions is the fact it's only possible to recover the file data itself; there's no means of restoring (or viewing) file properties, including its filename. This makes file recovery a more difficult task than it should be, but Recovery Vault counters this: when enabled, it'll take detailed notes of all files you delete, storing their properties in a special database file on the protected portion of your hard disk and making it much easier to find them should you need to in the future.
Once installed – and with Recovery Vault in place – you have one quick method of recovering data (Recovery Vault on HFS/HFS+ drives; Quick Scan on NTFS/FAT drives), plus a thorough, deep scan method should this attempt fail. Always start with the quick method – this can realise results in minutes or even seconds as opposed to hours.
The free Basic version of Disk Drill has full support for the Recovery Vault, but while you can perform both quick and deep scans using the program, if you want to recover any data using these techniques you'll have to pay: $89 for Pro (1 user, 1 Mac), $169 for Expert (1 user, unlimited Macs) or $299 for Enterprise (unlimited users and Macs within a single company).