Macintosh data recovery programs have gained popularity in recent years as the Mac OS platform has picked up steam, and many of the Macintosh file recovery software solutions offered online are quite effective. To find the best data recovery software for your Mac, you should realize that Macintosh data recovery is quite different from Windows data recovery, so specialized software is necessary.

The biggest difference between Mac OS X file recovery software and Windows software is the programming language. Mac OS X uses a file system known as HFS+, which is very different from the FAT and NTFS systems used by Windows. In layman’s terms, this means that file recovery mac software won’t work on Windows machines and vice-versa. Only use data recovery software that’s specifically designed for your operating system, or you’ll be wasting your money. The best data recovery software solutions often have multiple versions, so buy the version that’s approved for HFS+ file systems, or the older HFS file system if you have a fairly old Mac software installation.

Mac OS X file recovery software must be specially designed to cope with the challenges of the operating system. For instance, while a deleted file on a Mac is instantly overwritten, Windows computers simply mark the space occupied by deleted files as “available.” Mac computers are therefore seen as more secure, but this presents a problem for data recovery programs, as it’s more difficult to recover overwritten data. If a program promises deleted file recovery, Mac users should try to find a demo for the program before trying to use it on deleted files to ensure that the software is actually capable of performing this complex task.

If your Mac system has a failed hard drive, it may be difficult or impossible to use data recovery software to retrieve your files. This is because failed hard drives have physically damaged components, and even the best software can’t fix physical damage. However, some programs can operate a hard drive at a slower than usual speed, allowing files to be slowly retrieved. If your hard drive is making sounds or displaying any symptoms of physical damage, look for Macintosh file recovery software that offers a boot option. This means that the software will boot instead of your Mac OS X operating system, which in some cases enable it to attempt recovery on a physically damaged drive.

The best file recovery Mac software should come with a free demo to try before you buy.  If all else fails, you can consider a data recovery service, but data recovery software is a good first step towards retrieving your lost files.