Stellar Data Recovery is widely known as one of the “go to” apps when it come to recovering any deleted, damaged, lost or otherwise unusable files from a Windows PC, Mac or even a modern smartphone device!
At its core, Stellar Windows Data Recovery Professional helps recover everything from a deleted file (even after the Windows recycle bin has been emptied) trough to data on deleted or damaged disk partitions, USB flash drives, CD / DVDs and even crashed or otherwise un-bootable systems.
In this review I will be taking a look at the Professional edition of the Windows Data Recovery software and investigating the many functions available and where they might be useful in recovering data from a typical PC.
So far, Stellar Windows Data Recovery Professional sounds like a great tool for any serious PC user and one I am looking forwards to start using, let’s go!
Key Features of Stellar Data Recovery
- (New) Support for 4K sector size drives
- (New) Dual monitor set-up (work with the software across two monitors)
- Works on virtually any storage media (SSD, USB Flash, CD/DVD, SD Card etc.)
- Support for many popular storage formats (NTFS, exFAT, FAT16, FAT32 etc.)
- Support for recovering many file formats (photos, email, video, audio etc.)
- Recovers data from deleted and missing / unavailable partitions
- Helps recover email data files including Outlook PST, DBX and Lotus NSF etc.
- Recovers data from encrypted drives (drives using Windows Bitlocker)
- Included disk imaging and repair functionality
- SMART hard drive monitoring functionality
- Free version available (limited functionality &recovers up to 1GB)
- Excellent value at only $59.99 for the full standard version
- Many more features in the $99.99 Professional version
Stellar Data Recovery Usability
Installing Stellar Data Recovery Professional (for Windows)
Installing Stellar Windows Data Recovery begins by visiting the Stellar website and downloading the free version of the Stellar Data Recovery Software (this can easily be found on the Windows Data Recovery page as is shown below).
This free version of the software can be used to scan and provide a preview of what can potentially be recovered on your device, activating the software with a full licence key will then unlock the full functionality including allowing recovery of any files found.
Once the lightweight installer has been download and set running, the installation can be completed in just a few clicks, it will then immediately be ready to use in its free mode and a scan can be taken as soon as it is launched.
Entering a full licence key into the software via the key icon found on the toolbar will instantly activate the full software, at this point all features associated with the Professional version will be available.
Different Versions of Stellar Data Recovery Available
As of time of writing, there are 6 different versions of Stellar Data Recovery for Windows. Since 3 of these versions are aimed more towards IT professionals (these being Premium, Technician & Toolkit) I will be looking at the first three versions available to and suitable for all PC users:
Stellar Data Recovery Free:
The free version of Stellar Data Recovery for Windows contains all of same the functionality as the Standard version (below). The main limiting factor of the free version is that only 1GB of data can be recovered, this means an upgrade to the Standard version is needed to recover files of more than 1GB.
Stellar Data Recovery Standard:
The Standard version of Stellar Data Recovery allows recovery of individual files and folders from the Windows system in addition to virtually any storage media which can be attached to a Windows system (including USB flash drives, SD cards, external hard drives and so on).
This standard version also supports multiple different filesystem types including NTFS, exFAT, FAT16, FAT32 as well as the ability to perform recovery from any systems which are encrypted with Microsoft Bitlocker.
The Standard version is priced at $59.99 for use with a single PC.
Stellar Data Recovery Professional:
The Professional version of Stellar Data Recovery for Windows builds upon the Standard version by adding several additional tools and features into the software.
Firstly, with the Professional version, we can now scan for and recover data from lost or damaged disk partitions as well as from optical media including CDs, DVDs, HD-DVDs and Blu-ray discs. We can also make use of the system recovery rescue system, create images of our disks (cloning) and make use of the SMART disk monitoring tools.
The Professional version is priced at $99.99 for a single PC.
Recovering Data in Stellar Data Recovery
When using Stellar Data Recovery for the first time, one of the first tasks the software will prompt us to do is scan our entire system for anything which can be found and recovered:
Now, the chances are that if you are using such software as this then you are most likely looking for something specific to recover (for instance, a JPEG photograph file which might have been accidentally deleted). If this is the case then all boxes other than the one for photographs (shown above) can be unchecked, otherwise, all options can be left checked and clicking on next will continue the initial recovery scan set-up.
The next page used to set-up this initial scan will involve specifying where we might need to recover files from, this can be a specific location on the current device, any connected hard drive or flash drive, a missing drive or partition, a disk image file or one of several common locations as is shown below:
Once the type of file to be recovered and the location to scan are both set, we can begin the scanning process, this can be very quick to quite slow depending upon the number of file types and devices included. We also have two scanning modes to take account of, the regular scan itself and a “deep scan” mode which will perform a more detailed scan and potentially find more files to recover.
Once the scan is complete we will see a message informing us that this is the case, the software will also display the results of the scan and how many files and folders are recoverable.
At this point in the recovery process we can see all of the files which are recoverable and, by tuning on the “Turn On Preview” switch, can even preview the contents of certain files before attempting to recover them.
Selecting one of more files and then clicking on “Recover” will start the recovery process, we will be asked a location to recover said files to and then able to monitor the process of the restore via the status box:
Once completed, our data should now be recovered and ready to use! By default these files will be saved in their normal format, we can optionally choose to have one or more files saved in a zip file should we want when using the advanced options page during the recovery:
Recovering Data from Damaged Partitions and Un-Bootable PCs
Moving on from the recovery of individual files and folders on a working system, we can now look at recovering data from both lost or damaged disk partitions and also recovering from un-bootable PCs.
Starting with missing or damaged partitions, we can make use of the lost partition scanning tool, this can be opened by selecting the “Can’t Find Drive” option when choosing an area to recover from (as can be seen below):
After selecting this tool and clicking on “Scan”, we will be asked to select the physical drive containing the partitions we want to recover, the tool will then search the selected drive and return all discovered partitions like so:
With any lost partitions now (hopefully) found, they can be selected and then scanned for any recoverable data in the same way as we scanned for recoverable files earlier on:
Any data found on the lost partition can now be recovered as per the usual process when using Stellar Data Recovery.
Moving on to the issues of recovering data from an un-bootable PC, we can start by making a bootable rescue disc which lets us boot into Stellar Data Recovery prior to loading up the Windows operating system:
Once in the recovery media builder, we can create a USB drive which will be made bootable and can then be used to boot our Windows PC into. Once booted into the Stellar recovery system the scanning and recovery of files, folders and partitions works in much the same was as has already already covered above.
One slightly disappointing element to the system recovery builder is that it only allows a physically inserted USB drive to be built up and made bootable (as can be seen below).
This is not a big issue but I would have liked the option to create a ISO file as well as the option for using a USB drive together.
SMART Disk Drive Monitoring (Stellar Drive Monitor)
The Stellar Disk Monitor tool is included in the Professional version of the Data Recovery software and allows monitoring of any attached disks, this includes the ability to see the SMART status of the disk.
As can be seen above, the monitoring tool actually runs separately to the main Stellar software interface and is, effectively, a stand-alone tool in its own right. The main dashboard gives a quick oversight as to the general health of any attached disks and the tools on the left of the window can be used to dig deeper and gain more insight into any one particular area.
Also included in the Stellar Drive Monitor is a disk cloning tool which will make a cloned copy of any given hard drive to another alongside a disk error scanning tool and a disk partition management tool.
Overall the Stellar Drive Monitor is a good addition to the main data recovery suite and brings several useful utilities into the mix when using the Professional version.
File Types Recoverable by Stellar Data Recovery Professional
Stellar Data Recovery Professional supports the recovery of disks, partitions and over 200+ different file types, some of which include:
BMP, WBMP, WMF, EMF, JPEG, JPG, JP2, PNG, MNG, DIB, GIF, TIF, TIFF, PNM etc.
Audio & Video Files:
RMI, WAV, WMV, MPG, WMV, WMA, MP3, AVI, ASF, MPEG, MP4, MOV etc.
DOC, DOT, DOCX, DOTX, XLS, XLSX, XLTX, PPT, PPS, POT, PPTX, PDF etc.
PST, DBX, EMLX, etc.(from Outlook, Outlook Express etc.)
ARJ, LZH, ALZ, TAR, ZIP, RAR, CAB etc.
MDF, DBF, CSV etc.
Other / Miscellaneous Files:
C, PRG, TEXT, CXX, HPP, XML, CC, HH, ASM, JS, PHP, ASP, LIC, DEF etc.
Stellar Data Recovery Security
All versions of Stellar Data Recovery (including the free edition) support working with drives protected with Microsoft Bitlocker encryption. This means recovering up to 100% of any files and data from such damaged drives is possible.
Use of data recovery software can be daunting at times, especially when also trying to recover potentially important files or dealing with a PC or hard disk which simply wont work.
Thankfully, Stellar have not only make their data recovery software easy to use but also provided a very useful and comprehensive support portal from which many “How to” articles around using the software are available.
Further support can also be gained from the support portal including a support phone number (English language only) and ticketing based email support.
Stellar Data Recovery Pricing
Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Windows is priced at $59.99 for the Standard version and $99.99 for the Professional version. Other, more advanced versions featuring more specialist tools are also available for IT professionals and power users, more information can be found at the Stellar website.
A free version of the software allowing up to 1GB of recovery can also be downloaded by clicking here.
Stellar Data Recovery is a solid piece of software which has clearly been designed to help make the process of recovering data as straight forwards as is possible.
The main part of the software itself is simple and straight forward to use and, once a scan has been done, recovering files is as simple as navigating through the standard Windows file structure and selecting which files and folders to recover.
Other tools included with the Professional version include the recovery media builder, a tool which allows the data recovery software to be run form a bootable USB drive and the SMART disk monitoring tool which helps PC users check the health of any attached hard drives.
Overall, a solid utility which is easy to use and works well. If you do find yourself needing to recover files from affected hardware for whatever reason, this could be a great first step before (potentially) having to go through specialist and expensive data recovery companies, a great job Stellar!