The Top Open Source Data Recovery Tools

Everyone has had trouble with recovering lost data at some point. Data loss is a significant issue in today’s modern economy. Family photos, work-related documents, and media content are all stored on hardware that can break, often without warning. There are quite a few different tools out there to try to help you recover your data – but many of them are expensive or untrustworthy. This article finds the best open-source data recovery tools available, for free

For people who are inexperienced with computers, recovering your files can be especially difficult. Complicated, often expensive programs dominate the landscape of data restoration. However, intrepid programmers have given away power software suites for free under the “open source” mantra over the years.

Kickass Undelete

First on the list is an excellent open-source data recovery program that is fully equipped with various features and tools. Not to mention that all these fantastic features can be yours to use for the very generous price of free. All your problems about restoring deleted files will be solved with the variety of things you can do with this program.

Upon unintentionally deleting a file on your computer, the data does not immediately vanish and likely to still be on your drive, which allows it to be recoverable. Kickass Undelete will enable you to track all the deleted files on your hard drive, SD card, or even flash drive and allows you to recover them.

Its features include:

  • Free and Open source
  • Support for both NTFS and FAT file systems
  • Filter by filename and extension
  • Easy-to-use interface

As mentioned above, this program is straightforward to use and can be operated by even the most inexperienced people. To guide you, below are some short instructions on how to manage the program.

  1. Start the program by clicking and opening it.
  2. Click on the large ‘start’ button that is seen on the very top of the program.
  3. After the scan completes, you will see a list of deleted files along with check boxes before them.
  4. Click on the files you wish to recover on the checkboxes, then click on the restore files button on the bottom right corner.
  5. You are all set! You should have your deleted files restored now.

It is also important to note that the earlier you recover the files, the less likely they will be corrupted or permanently lost. Once you accidentally delete data, the faster you try to retrieve the data, the better.


Another open-source file data recovery tool designed to help you recover your missing files, including videos, archives, and even documents, by scanning your hard disks, CD-ROMs, and deleted pictures from your digital camera memory.

This fantastic program completely ignores your computer’s file system and instead goes after the underlying data. This makes it so that it will still work regardless of whether your media’s file system has been corrupted and even reformatted. This open-source program multi-platform program is also free to use and distributed under GNU General Public License. Photo Rec is a companion to TestDisk, which is an application for recovering lost partitions on a wide variety of systems.

This program also guarantees your safety by using read-only access that handles your memory card or drives that contain the lost data you are attempting to recover. It’s important to note that you do not save any more pictures or files to a memory device if you already accidentally deleted a file or images on it, which helps protect you from accidentally overwriting lost data.

How to use PhotoRec:

After booting up the file, you will need to select the disk that holds your lost files.

You will then gain the options to modify the list of file types recovered by PhotoRec. Click on options to change these options.

Once you have selected and confirmed step 2, PhotoRec will need to know how the data blocks are allocated, choose ‘other’ if it does not match your file system.

You will then select where the recovered files should be written.

The program should then show you each file you wish to recover as well as its status

A summary will be displayed on your screen for you to see the files you have recovered.


A great companion open-source application that will help you quickly recover your lost files, pictures, and other important data. This program works together with PhotoRec to extract the files from the memory devices they were lost in. Its design aims to help lost partitions and create non-booting disks bootable again in very faulty software, including viruses and human error.

Like its companion, Test Disk targets file systems and goes after the underlying data, allowing users to find files even if they are damaged. This means that your data is not permanently lost as long as you do not overwrite the data.

How to use TestDisk:

  • Once you have executed TestDisk, the phrase “please wait…” will appear on your screen until it has gathered enough data from the operating system to get your memory device list.
  • Select the partition table type from the options presented and press Enter.
  • After selecting enter, the files you wanted to recover should be restored.


Data recovery is a problem almost everyone faces with technology nowadays. Especially for the inexperienced, obtaining previously lost data can be quite troublesome and may cause even more problems if not done correctly. Luckily, the free, open-source programs above are designed to help you track down these data, which can be quickly done by any user.