Software Review – Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery

Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery is a professional data recovery product that lets you bounce back from tough data loss situations by recovering lost data from a number of file systems like FAT, HFS, EXFAT, HFS+, NTFS, and more. This software is designed for home and technical users who’ve inadvertently deleted important files, formatted their hard drives, or lost their critical data due to some other reason and do not have a backup to restore them from.

The product is packed with a lot of basic as well as advanced features that can come in handy to revive lost data from various situations like hard drive failure, virus / malware attack, accidental file deletion, unplanned drive format, etc. Some of the basic features include:

  • RAW recovery on lost Mac volumes
  • Data recovery from encrypted file systems
  • File recovery from un-mounted Mac volumes
  • Deleted backup recovery from Time Machine hard drive
  • Boot Camp partition recovery
  • Hard drive image creation

The software is compatible with many macOS versions including Sierra 10.12, El Capitan 10.11, Yosemite 10.10, Mavericks 10.9, Mountain Lion 10.8, Lion 10.7, and Snow Leopard 10.6. Additionally, it is equipped with an interactive interface that is available in English, German, French, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish.

We conducted tests to evaluate how well it performs to recover data lost from 2 common scenarios – accidental deletion, and reformatting. The results of our tests have been summarized below.

Lost File Recovery

The software description mentions that it can restore permanently deleted data. On Mac, generally, when users delete files they are just sent to the Trash folder where they are retained for 30 days before being removed from the system. Permanent deletion happens when the Trash is emptied manually, files older than 30 days in the Trash are auto-deleted by macOS, or users delete files through a ‘Command + Shift + Option + Delete’ operation.

We permanently deleted a few documents, images, video and audio files and attempted their recovery. We also ran the software on a reformatted drive to see if it could perform as promised. Here’s what we found.

  • Lost Image Files

    The software performed exceptionally well while recovering accidentally deleted image files of different formats like JPG, PNG, BMP, etc. All our deleted photos were recovered accurately with their original file names and without any modifications or damage. Since our test set involved only 35 images, the software didn’t take much time either. Thus, the software scored a 100% result for recovery of lost image files.

  • Lost Document Files

    We had deleted a few Word documents, some Excel sheets, 3 PDFs, and a couple of Text files. The software was able to revive all accidentally deleted documents. 100% result here too.

  • Lost Audio & Video Files

    With multimedia files, the software’s success rate wasn’t overly impressive. Our deleted MP3, WAV, MP4, MKV, and WMV files weren’t all recovered and two of the recovered files had some data missing (they skipped during playback). We gave the software a score of 82% here.

    Note: The macOS considers multimedia files as lost when their directory path has been corrupted or deleted. That doesn’t however mean that the files no longer exist on the system.

  • Reformatted Drive Recovery

    Note: The drive we reformatted had only our test data which wasn’t much. That accounted for the quick speed with which the recovery process ran. However, with larger amounts of data, the speed may vary.

    • The software recovered all lost image files successfully – 100% results
    • A few lost documents couldn’t be salvaged – 88% results
    • 2 audio files and 5 videos couldn’t be recovered. Some of the recovered files had missing data – 75% results
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Advanced Features

Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery is equipped with a few advanced features that business houses can use to perform highly technical tasks.

  • Selective File Recovery – Through this feature, we could specifically select the type of files we wanted to recover using the ‘Advanced Settings’ and that quickened the recovery process. We could pick from a range of supported file formats for images, audios, videos, documents, applications, and archives. Moreover, the software allowed us to add new file formats to the list of supported formats if the one we wished to recover wasn’t already there.

  • RAW Recovery – In case the standard recovery procedures offered by the software aren’t able to recover the files you’re looking for, an advanced RAW Recovery option is provided. This can be seen as a fail-safe for the software when it fails to recover the data the user asked for. Under RAW Recovery, the software performs ‘deep’ scan of corrupted / severely damaged hard drives to try and recover lost files. It can be used to revive data from corrupted Time Machine hard drive too.

  • Media Imaging – If you find that a file you created the day before has suddenly gone missing from your Mac, chances are your hard drive is developing bad sectors. In such situations before other critical data starts going kaput, creating an image of the hard drive is a wise option. This software provides an option to create a mountable image of Mac hard drive, volume, or selected region and store it elsewhere as a DMG file. The DMG file serves as a complete backup which can be used for data recovery whenever needed.

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Ease of Use

Stellar Mac Data Recovery scored some major points with respect to ease of use:

  • The software is completely Do-It-Yourself, meaning that it has quite a descriptive user interface which is easy to work with
  • The instructions given at each step can be followed smoothly to recover lost data
  • The number of steps to be followed isn’t too much

However, there was a major concern here as well. For first time users, the variety of data recovery options that the software presents might get a little confusing. They might not be able to understand the difference between the working of each process. For example, not every user might be able to comprehend the difference between ‘Recover Data’ and ‘Deleted Recovery’ options, where the former is meant to scan the entire storage device to search for all lost data (including formatted stuff), and the latter specifically recovers deleted data from volumes.

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Working Speed & Ease on System Resources

The software’s working speed was measured on two parameters:

  • Hard Drive Scanning Speed – The amount of data that we gave the software to scan was purely for test purpose (meaning it wasn’t much). The software skimmed through it quite swiftly. However, considering a real scenario where GBs of data would be involved, scaling our experience of the software’s scanning speed we’d say that it would be able to scan hard drives at the rate of 45 to 50 GB per hour.
  • Data Recovery Speed – This was pretty much the same as the scanning speed.

Downloading the demo version of the software took about 5 seconds and installing it took under 10 seconds. It didn’t need much space on the hard drive (50 Mb minimum) or RAM (1 GB minimum) either. But when the scan was running, our system significantly slowed down. We had Microsoft Word, Notepad, Microsoft Outlook, Google Chrome and Windows Explorer running. The system performance was negatively affected in the following areas:

  • Switching between windows became really slow
  • Outlook and Word hung a couple of times

Once the scan was completed, everything went back to normal. The actual recovery process didn’t affect system performance much.

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Pricing & Licenses

There are 3 flavors of the software, each with different usage restrictions and prices.

  • Demo Version – Free. Can only be used to see whether the software will be able to recover anything or not by previewing files that can be recovered.
  • Single User License – Can be installed on a single system. Priced at $99. Includes all basic features.
  • Tech User License – Can be installed on multiple systems within a single network. Priced at $349. Includes all basic features with Lifetime License validity and free Technical support.
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Help & Support

As far as getting in touch with their technicians is concerned, Stellar Data Recovery fared average. They have a Live Chat window on their website which takes a lot of time to connect, but they do respond to email and phone queries.

Additionally, there is a lot of reading material related to Stellar Mac Data Recovery that can be easily found in a dedicated FAQ section and Knowledge Base on their website.


8.4 Total Score

Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery is a good option for lost file recovery resulting from accidental deletion. Its RAW recovery feature is pretty good too. However, with regard to recovering data from reformatted drives, ease on system resources, and price, there are better options available out there.

Lost File Recovery
Advanced Features
Ease of Use
Working Speed
Ease on System Resources
Help & Support
Supported Formats
  • User-friendly
  • Supports many file formats
  • Supports many file systems
  • Offers multiple modes of recovery
  • Support Encrypted Drive Recovery  
  • Excellent at recovering lost images
  • Scanning process takes a toll on system performance
  • Needs to be run as Administrator
  • Doesn't perform too well with reformatted drives
  • Technician license is a bit pricey
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