Data Rescue II – File Recovery For The Mac

This is an obsolete version of the software. Images and broken external links have been removed.

Data Rescue II is a file recovery utility for the Mac by ProSoft Engineering. Even if you don’t need it now, what’s worth knowing is that if you need it to recover files you can download the trial version and see if it will work. The download will read your hard disk and list the files that are available for recovery. You can recover one file up to 5MB in demo mode. This review is based on the evaluation copy. You need to provide an e-mail address to get the eval copy. They’ll send the download link to the e-mail address you provide.

The philosophy of Data Rescue II is to focus on data recovery and not hard drive repair. Analyzing the data on the disk for recovery can often be more effective than trying to fix the hard disk itself. Data Rescue II never writes to the hard disk that contains the files to be recovered in order to prevent further corrupting the data. But if your hard disk has a hardware problem, such as a head crash, simply operating the drive may cause further damage.

The download is a 12.4MB disk image (.dmg) file. Installation is done by simply dragging the Data Rescue II icon to the Applications folder. The download also includes a 59 page User Guide as a PDF.

When Data Rescue II is started for the first time I’m prompted by OS X to enter the admin password so Data Rescue II can set itself up. I’m prompted for my name and serial number but to run in demo mode all I need to do is tick the box to accept the license and click the demo button.


Clicking demo brings the message that I can scan my media but only recover a single 5MB file. After acknowledging the message Data Rescue II scans my hard drive which is quick.

There are two modes. “Assistant”, which is wizard based and “Expert Mode”

Assistant Mode

Assistant mode is the default so the first screen I see when starting Data Rescue II is the Introduction (click any of the screenshots to see them full size).


Then your prompted to select the drive or volume.


Then I have to select a working volume. As Data Rescue II tells me:


I select my Maxtor drive which is connected via firewire. Data Rescue II will create a folder called DataRescueTemp on this drive and use it as a working directory. It will be deleted when Data Rescue II is done. A USB key can also be used although it should be at least 2% the size of the drive being scanned. While USB sticks are getting bigger, so are hard drives. An iPod can also be used if disk use is enabled.

After selecting my working volume and clicking continue I’m prompted to select a scan method.

  • Quick Scan: As the name implies, this is a fast scan. It may not fine all possible files. Doing this scan first is recommended. If it doesn’t find your file you can then do a thorough scan.
  • Thorough Scan: This will find the maximum number of files and takes the longest. The estimate is 3 minutes per gigabyte.
  • Deleted File Scan: will scan free space for deleted files. If your trying to recover accidentally deleted files then this would be the scan type to select. This only searches free space (so it’s quicker than the thorough scan) and will only find files of a certain type. The files must be contiguous in order to be recovered. Here’s the list of file types that can be found by the Deleted File Scan.Since the file name is not available when scanning free space a file name is generated when a file is found (more on this later).
  • The last scan type really isn’t a scan. You can use a scan file that was saved during a previous scan. This would normally be a thorough scan that you decided to save. So if you do a thorough scan you can save the results and use it at a later time if necessary. Of course, if significant disk changes take place the saved scan may not be useful.

After picking the scan method there’s another screen asking to confirm the selections you made in the wizard.


A quick scan of my 500GB hard drive took about two minutes and I was shown the following results.


After that we’re into the recovery screens. There’s a search field at the top so you can search for file names, you can search using Edit -> Find from the menu, or you can browse through the list. It’s worth noting that not just missing files are shown, all existing files and directories are listed. This allows you to try and recover a corrupt file or directory.

I had deleted some iTunes TV shows which were not found by the Quick Scan. (I also removed them from the trash). These did not show up in the scan results so I hit the “Go Back” button until I could select a Deleted File scan. This scan took over 3 hours to check 275GB of free space and reported the following:


In this case locating my missing file would be much harder. It’s probably one of the files with a generated name (because it was rebuilt from free space). The screenshot below is an example of how the files show up. All you have to go on is the file size and type. The date modified is when the program ran.


As you can see, finding the exact file you’re looking for could be tough. Hopefully you’d have an idea about the file size and type. You can recover the files that are close to the size and then check them individually. Because I’m limited to one file under 5MB with the demo version I’m not doing a restore yet.

Expert Mode

Export mode puts all the options of the wizard (Assitant) on one screen and adds two other options – Analyze and Clone.


Analyze gives a picture of Data Rescue II’s ability to read the hard drive and simply displays a graph of read times. Clone makes a image if the hard drive onto another drive (overwriting everything on the destination drive). The Clone option is not available in the demo.

The Quick Scan, Deleted Files and Thorough Scan result in the same screen as the Assistant mode when the scan is finished although you need to know where to find the screen as it didn’t always appear automatically. I did a Thorough Scan on a 1GB USB drive that has files constantly added and deleted as they’re transferred around. Data Rescue II estimates 3 minutes per GB for a thorough scan, although it could take longer if it’s a problem drive. The scan of my 1GB USB stick only took about a minute.

When the scan was done I selected View -> Show Scan Results from the menu and got a screen where I could browse for the files it found. I found 1 Quicktime movie (again, too big for the demo) which was expected since the stick is usually used to copy iTunes videos around. I also find one small text file which I try to recover. I mark it, click the recover button and I’m prompted for the location to recover to. The file is successfully recovered. I read it and see it’s an old “readme” file I had used to list what was in the files on the USB stick. The recovered file is fine and was one that I had simply deleted when I last emptied the stick.


You need a second drive in order to recover files, so in addition to the software cost there’s a cost for the second drive. Although, many Mac users will already have a second drive available. There needs to be enough space to put the recovered files in addition to a recommended working directory with free space equal to or greater than 2% of the drive being recovered.

You should also limit use of the drive being recovered so if you don’t have Data Rescue II already installed when the file goes missing or corrupt you’ll need to install it on a second drive or run it from a CD that’s also available. It can be installed on the same drive you’re using as temporary space and as the destination for recovered files.

The ability to run the trial version to see if it can see the files your trying to recover, or actually recover a file under 5MB, is an added plus. The documentation itself mentions that the software will not recover files in all cases, although it does have an excellent reputation. ProSoft also gets good marks in customer support in the reviews I’ve seen.

Data Rescue II for Mac currently lists for $99. If you download it from ProSoft you can use it as a trial and then buy it if it sees your files. It’s available from for less than that (currently $79), although not as a trial and you’ll have to wait for delivery. The previous links are affiliate links and benefit this website if used. If you’d prefer not to use them you can go to ProSoft Engineering directly.

Whether or not to buy the product depends on how you value your data and how much insurance you want. If a file is corrupted or deleted you want to be able to try the recovery as soon as possible, before additional changes are made to the disk. You can wait and get the product via download when a file goes bad, but buying direct from Prosoft is more expensive. And the act of running your Mac and downloading the file makes changes to the drive you probably need to recover so there’s the risk that you’ll lose the data your trying to recover. So I decided to take out the insurance and buy it from to save a little money and have it already installed on my Mac. With any luck I won’t have a chance to cash in the policy, but if I do I’ll let you know how it goes.

It’s a Universal app so it will work on Intel and PPC Macs. There’s also a version available for people still using OS 9.

6 thoughts on “Data Rescue II – File Recovery For The Mac”

  1. I don't see where it can recover Word documents and Excel Documents? Is this possible? Please let me know. Thanks.

  2. Thank you for showing the step by step process of using Data Rescue. My computer stopped recognizing my external harddrive – it asks if I want to initialize, ignore, or eject when I plug it in – and after doing some research, it looks like Data Rescue II is the way to go. Do you think it will be able to save all of my files? I'm not interested in anything I emptied from the trash. You say 'the file name is not available when scanning free space', is that always the case? I would love not to have to rename 90GB worth of files, but obviously, it's better than losing everything. Some people recommended Disk Warrior. Do you think that's a better option? I like the idea of testing out Data Rescue with the free demo and the fact that it doesn't try to repair anything, just recovers your files, so it can't do any more damage. Any advice you have would really be appreciated.

  3. @Kim – If the external drive isn't recognized then Data Rescue may recover files on it, although like you said, you can try the demo. I haven't used Disk Warrior so can't speak to it directly but it does have a good reputation. The file names are not available when the file is recovered from free space, although in this case free space means deleted files. If the disk was damaged the space may not be "free" and there may still be directory entries that DR can use to name the files. I'd suggest trying the demo, it won't change anything on the drive being repaired.

  4. It sees the mov files i want to recover, but views them as jpeg. and when i back them up, they are pictures and not the movie????!!!!!?????? killing meee

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