Review: Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery 5 – Easily Recover Lost and Deleted Files on Your Mac

Review: Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery 5 – Easily Recover Lost and Deleted Files on Your Mac

Oh, sweet Mary and Joseph! That is putting it nicely. If you’ve ever lost or accidentally deleted files on your computer, you know it is quite a sinking feeling–that deep pit-of-your-stomach pain that rattles the cages of your soul. I will not bore you with the story of the time I lost my entire research paper at the end of one seemingly extra cold fall semester. Stellar Data Recovery tries to smooth over your fears or save your grade with Mac Data Recovery 5.


MDR5 Main Splash Screen

This advanced recovery application allows the user to retrieve lost or deleted data, even formatted drives, from any Mac data storage including internal/external HDDs, USB drives/jump drives, optical media CD/DVDs, memory cards, digital cameras, iPods/iPhones/iPads. To accomplish this range of possibilities, Mac Data Recovery 5 (MDR5) uses different sections of data recovery techniques labeled in the app as Drive Recovery, Photo Recovery, CD/DVD Recovery, iPod Recovery, and Raw Recovery.

Drive Recovery

Recover Data

Intended to recover lost data and entire volumes, Drive Recovery uses several sub categories: Quick Recovery; Deleted Recovery; Formatted Media/Lost File Recovery; Search Lost/Deleted Volumes. Providing an option to recover data from any Mac volume, this option can retrieve data from even a severely corrupted drive.

Now, I keep mentioning Mac volumes or drives. What that means is, the app can recover information from HFS, HFS+, HFSX, and HFS Wrapper based volumes. Plainly, it will not work on NTFS or FAT32 partitions. For example, if you used BootCamp to partition your HDD for say, Windows, and used a Microsoft friendly partition, this will not recover that information. The program promises to recover “all file types,” including MXF, MUS, PTF, AAC, fh3 through Fh11, NSF, PMD, EPS, SHW, PS, VMX, ENC, and plist.

Allow me a correction, I just ran a scan on a FAT32 jump drive and the program easily found the information I had deleted. I’m not sure why the company advertises the scanner as a Mac volume recovery tool, if it works on both FAT32 and Journaled partitions. Having completed Quick Recovery and Deleted Recovery scans, the app found 87 files on a FAT32 system. Odd the devs only list the HFS, HFS+, HFSX, and HFS Wrapper based drives.

Photo Recovery

Photo Recovery

I also used this thumb drive to store photos and pass them between different computers without using cloud storage applications. Again, this thumb drive was completely empty before I ran the scan. The Photo Recovery tool found JPEG, PNG, Photoshop, Quick Time, and MP4 files. It is interesting all of these image files did not appear in the Drive Recovery scan. Only a few were found in the previous Drive scan. However, with the photo specific scan, the app found, hold your breath, … 1.35GBs of files! That amounted to 184 files across 9 individual folders. Again, none of these were showing when I plugged in the thumb drive.

I recovered an 80.25MB movie I originally recorded on my iPhone and removed from the drive well over a year ago. I had deleted this file, with no intention of ever recovering it. Thanks to MDR5, it is now back on my desktop and works perfectly fine, no degradation, loss of quality, or pixelation. It is the same file I originally created. The user can even preview the file before selecting to restore it.

CD/DVD Recovery

Unfortunately, I do not have any CDs or DVDs with deleted, corrupt or missing data. According to Stellar Phoenix, the program can recover lost or irretrievable data from any optical media, including HD DVDs and Blu-rays too.

iPod Recovery

iPod Quick Scan

Within the iPod section, there are three options: Quick Recovery; Deleted Recovery; Advanced Recovery. Quick Recovery scans the entire disc and finds lost data. Deleted Recovery only looks for previously deleted files and Advanced Recovery looks for previously formatted or restored, or over written data. The website incorrectly labels the Advanced Recovery as “Formatted Media/Lost File Recovery.”

When I originally ran the search for my iPod 5th gen, it did not show up as a scannable drive. After syncing the iP0d, I turned on “Enable disk use” in iTunes. Then, the iPod was available as a scannable drive. Completing a quick scan, all of the files on my iPod were listed; however, some of the songs had odd file names, see above. When I tried to recover a song file from the iPod, all it produced was a scrambled mess of an audio file. The files were not previewable within the app either, unlike the videos and photo files from the thumb drive.

Raw Recovery

This is the final option for the MDR5 software series. It is meant to be a fail safe for the Quick Recovery mode. This option utilizes a signature based search and recovers all of the aforementioned file types. This would be your final stop in the event none of the previous options drew the results you were looking to retrieve. In my case, this would be the last stop for that research paper from years ago.

Payment Options

Payment Options

MDR5 comes in three versions. First option is the free version. It is actually the full blown application. The user can run all system scans as if the application was paid. The trick is, no data is recoverable. This is, however, a good way to promote the software though. First, download the application and run a scan of your media. If you are actually able to find your lost file, then pay for the application to retrieve it.

The first tier is $99, which offers the product and CD, plus live chat support and support tickets. If you want to add expert advice, remote support and a phone line option, the total package is $134.

Conclusion [rating: 4/5]

The application did retrieve information that was previously deleted. Will it retrieve any file you have ever lost, deleted, formatted or the like?  I cannot say with confidence it can. I was not digging around for a specific file that I deleted, more so determining the application’s ability to find any files in the first place. Your best bet is to download the application and scan your devices for free. If you happen to stumble across the lost file you were looking to find, pay for the app and grab that file.

However, with an initial buy-in of $100 that better be an extremely important file. I am very careful with a majority of my saves, back ups, and drives. Consequently, I hope I never need to pay for such an application. It does, however, seem to get the job done. If I stumbled upon this app during that cold fall semester as I struggled not to punch through my PC laptop screen, I may just have paid the $100 asking price.


  • Scan lists are searchable by file name
  • Retrieve old files, even if the drives have been formatted or deleted
  • Preview the files before recovering them to your desktop
  • Even works for optical recovery


  • Cannot pull mp3 files from your iPod without scrambling them
  • Scanning a large disk takes an extremely long time, but that is expected
  • Specific file searches are needed to find individual file types
  • Cannot rip music off an iPod