With data recovery software, your deleted or scrambled files are at stake, so you need to be careful about which app you choose. Stellar Data Recovery Premium, like our Editors’ Choice pick, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, lets you use a free trial version to see which files it can recover, before requiring you to pay for the full restore features. If you understand its limits and maintain reasonable expectations, Stellar Data Recovery Premium does a good job of bringing back files. Unfortunately, however, these apps sometimes can’t recover everything they claim. We can’t give Stellar Data’s latest version a strong recommendation because of its inconsistent recovery reporting and poor usability across multiple monitors, problems that suggest that this new version needs further testing and refinement by the vendor.
Even though vast numbers of business and home users have been using multi-monitor systems for years, Stellar Data Recovery does not work well with this type of setup. On my two-monitor system, the left half of the Stellar app’s window appeared in my left-hand monitor and the right half of the window in the right-hand monitor, with the two monitors’ bezels splitting the app’s window down the middle. I’ve never seen this behavior in commercial software.
When I tried to drag the window into one of the monitors, the app kept dividing itself back between the two windows every time I clicked a button or performed any other action. While this problem doesn’t affect the app’s ability to recover files, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the app or the vendor. Even when I updated the app to the latest version, the problem persisted. Keep in mind, when reading the rest of this review, that I had to keep dragging the app’s window into one of my two monitors at every single step in its operation.
Unlike the EaseUS app, Stellar doesn’t automatically display separate lists of deleted file and other files. If you want to see only the deleted files that Stellar found on your disk, you’ll have to click on a “Deleted” tab—and then wait for the app to sort the file list. This process can take a surprisingly long time—more than an hour when I tested the app with an SSD, and that was after it took even longer to scan the drive in the first place. This separate sorting step for deleted files seems like a puzzling design choice, when you probably chose the app for the sole purpose of finding deleted files. What made this even more frustrating in my tests was that the progress bar showed that the deleted-file sorting was half complete before reverting to the starting position, so I never could be sure of how much of the job was done.
Another frustration in Stellar’s app involves its option to save recovery data for use after you restart the app. Whenever I tried to use the saved recovery data, Stellar continued scanning the drive I was working with, taking as long as two hours to complete the scan. In contrast, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard loaded the saved data and immediately let me get back to work recovering data. Stellar also showed intermittent problems when I tried to stop a scan before it was finished. Most of the time, I could stop the scan easily, but on two tries, the app refused to stop the scan and I had to shut it down from the Windows Task Manager. EaseUS never showed any similar problem.
Stellar includes a disk monitoring and cloning menu, something that EaseUS doesn’t, which displays the SMART status and other details about your current disk. This interface also includes a disk-scanning feature, though you probably shouldn’t use it with an SSD, since it may inflict needless wear-and-tear. The same menu lets you clone a disk to another drive, which is useful for when you want to get a copy of a failing drive before it deteriorates further. EaseUS offers a separate EaseUS Todo Backup app that includes cloning and multiple alternative backup features.
Stellar Data Recovery was frustrating to work with even when it successfully restored lost files, but I wouldn’t count this product out for good. An earlier version I tested a few years ago seemed much more reliable, so maybe Stellar will improve performance and reliability in future versions. All data recovery apps are imperfect, but EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard seems much less imperfect, and it’s the data recovery app that we recommend.