We carry around a lot of precious information, media and content in our pockets every day on our smartphones. We take pictures of our kids with our phones, organize our calendars, communicate with friends and family, keep notes and reminders — these devices truly are the hub of our digital lives.
Rightly, you’ll want to ensure you have a copy of the contents of your phone to ensure you never lose anything. For iOS users, it’s easy enough to back up your photos, contacts, messages and more with iCloud which makes the backing up process as frictionless as it gets. But iCloud isn’t perfect -- what if one day you delete a valuable contact entry or a message thread you need back, how can you get back that data?
FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery software wants to be your go-to tool for restoring lost iOS data. I took a look at the Mac version — although it is also available for Windows. The app allows you to connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch (whether it is working or not), scan the device and see all of the data on your device — deleted or otherwise. iPhone Data Recovery has an impressive list of supported apps and file types:
It can also show you in-app audio, photos and videos for selected apps. Not all of this is useful (some of the files returned are technical files used by the apps to run) but mine showed some Scanbot PDF files, photos edited in VSCO Cam and Landcam as well as videos posted to Vine.
As for device support, FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery is capable of recovering data from almost all iOS devices. the original iPad through to the current-gen, iPhone 3GS to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and iPod touch 4th-generation and newer.
The user interface of FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery is easy to understand. Its wizard-like UI give clear instructions and guides you through the process. As well scanning your iOS device, you can also search through an iTunes or iCloud backup too. iTunes can’t be running on your Mac while FonePaw is as to avoid creating a new backup and overwriting an older one!
Scanning your device or backups is fast. My almost-full 64GB iPhone 6 was scanned in less than 10 minutes with many thousands of items being returned back to me. What’s great about FonePaw software is that it allows you to view content it is found during the scanning your device. That means you don’t have to wait for the full scan to be completed to act if you have already found the photo or video you were desperate to get back, for example.
Data is presented back to you clearly — you can see thumbnails for images and videos, message thread previews and tables neatly laid out with contact and call history information making everything easy to navigate. However, an option to filter by deleted items only is seemingly absent meaning you often have to scroll through thousands of items to find the one you want. There is a search field, useful in some instances, but you can’t search by date in images, for example, only by filename. When everything is named IMG_xxx, its use is limited.
You also can’t restore data back to your iOS device directly, only save it to you computer. This is fine for photos or videos which are in understandable file formats like JPEG or PNG and can be added back to your devices easily, for Contacts which are saved as cross-platform CSV files, or for Notes saved as TXT files. However, it's not as straightforward for Messages threads or your call history — these are retrieved as HTML files and these are considerably harder to get back onto your iOS device in the right place. This is a disappointing as the phone is our digital hub and that’s where we want our files to live.
FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery tool for Mac is free to download. You can access a trial version at no cost for 15 days. There are limitations — only thumbnail image previews, a few Contact or Call History entries visible and, of course, the lack of full recovery of files. These limitations are lifted when a license is purchased for $79.95. While the price is certainly high, getting back that valuable data might be worth the price.
The Good: Easy and simple UI. Scans are speedy and you can browse data on the fly. Find data on your iOS device (whether it boots or not) as well as iTunes/iCloud backups. A number of devices and file types supported, even in-app data in many cases. Selectively preview and save items to your computer.
The Bad: Can’t restore data directly to your iOS device. Content search isn't as useful as it could be. Expensive license cost.
The Verdict: iPhone Data Recovery is an easy to use utility that could save your bacon if you’ve lost precious data from an iOS device. While it would be much more useful if it could place data back onto your phone or tablet, if it finds that valuable photo, contact or message thread, it could be worth the $79.95 asking price. It’s free to try out, so you can see if it is the right tool for you before shelling out any cash.
Check out FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery online and download it for Mac or Windows for free. Give it a test run and, if you decide to buy a license, that can be done in-app or through the FonePaw Store.