Product: Mac Data Recovery v. 5.0
Vendor: Stellar Phoenix
Rating: 4 moose
Moose: 4 of 5
Pros: Easy to use; gets all files; works with virtually any media; writes files to a new location; you can scan for deleted files only
Cons: Workflow requires at least a brief review of manual; recovered files are written as read only to target drive
Conflict of interest: Stellar Phoenix provided the review with a free copy of the software.
Test system: Mac Pro, OS 10.7.2, SDHC card
Data loss due to a failed drive or inadvertent deletion is something that happens to everyone, sooner or later. There are two ways to deal with the problem. The first is to have a current backup and the second is to use software designed to recover lost files.
Stellar Phoenix makes Mac Data Recovery for those occasions when you do not have a back up and yet need to recover your data. The recently released version 5.0 includes a number of enhancements; most notably the ability to work with optical media such as CD’s, a RAW recovery that is designed for cases of severe file corruption, the ability to give the recovered file its original name, a 30% speed improvement, and the ability to recover data from drives larger than 2 TB.
Download and installation of the program were straightforward. Each time that you run the program, it asks your permission to make changes. This window is not mentioned in the manual and its unexplained appearance can be disconcerting to security conscious users. The explanation for the window is that the software needs to read all files as it progresses sector by sector through the drive. The main window that next opens is remarkably simple: three buttons control the program, with the primary button, “Recover Data” being the main button. Clicking that main button takes you into the program where you can choose the kind of data recovery that you want and then the drive or media from which you wish to recover the data.
Data recovery is not a fast process. Plan to do this while you do something else. I tested Photo Recovery from a 4 GB SDHC card, where the scan alone took 30 minutes. Writing the recovered photos to my hard drive to another 10. That being said, Mac Data Recovery recovered not only the 10 photos that I had recently erased, but also a large number of photos that I made prior to reformatting the card. I found it interesting that recovery of data from an 8 GB USB thumb drive took less than 10 minutes. Perhaps recovery from a memory card is just slow.
Mac Data Recovery performs a variety of functions that I could not test. For instance, if your drive is beginning to fail due to bad sectors, Mac Data Recovery can create an image of the bad drive on a new drive using only the good sectors from the bad drive. I hope that I never have to do this, but it’s nice to know that I have a potential solution to this problem should it arise.
I would have given Stellar Phoenix’s Mac Data Recovery 5 moose but for two reasons. The first is related to the workflow of the program: there is the unexplained request for the administrator’s password when it begins operation and the fact that you have to press “Recover Data” before you specify the problem drive. You have to read the manual to know that the program won’t launch into scanning your primary drive, but will instead ask you to specify the drive after pressing this button. The second major issue for me was having the recovered files written as read only files. I suppose that is to prevent you from accidentally deleting them a second time, but it does create an extra step because you have to go into Info to change their permissions when you decide that you want to delete them. These are minor flaws for a program that otherwise preforms very well. I recommend that you add Stellar Phoenix’s Mac Data Recovery to your arsenal of system tools.