Gadget news
Bark Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
4:23 pm | June 15, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Just about every  around promises to keep your kids away from 

Too often, we all hear stories about how the internet can be a dangerous place to be. After all, as it has matured, it is really a reflection of society.

As adults, we have many strategies to keep ourselves safe when online, from keeping our computer and software updated, using antimalware products, and even the basics like not giving our personal info out to people that we meet online. The reality is that for children who, depending on their age, may not understand these strategies or consistently implement them, it is even more dangerous for them to use the internet.

Therefore, additional effort is needed to keep them safe when online, and that is where the parental control app Bark comes in. Bark was founded in 2015 by CEO Brian Bason, who is also a father of two children. Today, Bark gets used by over 3,400 school districts and private schools to protect children when online. 

Bark: Features

Bark is a subscription monitoring service to allow for parents to monitor their children’s online activity. It starts with Bark being able to monitor over 30 online activities, including texts, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media accounts. Once this is setup, Bark has ongoing content monitoring of your child’s activity online. 

Bark supplies apps for both the iOS and the Android platforms. The Bark app is downloaded to the child’s device, so that then the parent can customize the filters and limits.

When a potential event is detected, such as a cyberbullying event, a predator, a sexual event, violent threats, suicidal ideation or depression, the parent gets an alert so that they can intervene with their child. The alert can be sent to the parent in a choice of methods that include a text, an email or a push notification.

Bark also can work to set limits on children’s time online. This includes website blocking to keep children away from sites that a parent does not want them visiting. There is also control of screen time, so that screen time after bedtime is controlled such as by shutting down streaming and gaming. These limits can also be imposed during the school day to improve focus.

Another feature is the location sharing. This allows the parent to keep tabs on where the child is. This is enabled via location sharing, and also check in.

Bark: Plans and pricing

There is a choice of plans that Bark offers to protect children online. Each has a full week long trial to decide if it meets your family’s needs.

The entry point is the Bark Junior plan, which has an affordable starting price of $5/month, or $49 annually. It has some basic functions, such as managing screen time, having control which websites your kids can visit via filters, and knowing where the children are via location alerts, and also check-ins.

The higher plan is the Bark Premium plan, which has a cost of $14/month, or $99/year for a significant discount. It has the features of the lower plan, but adds monitoring what your child is doing on over 30 platforms, including texts, email, and even Youtube. Furthermore, the parent will get alerts if an issue is detected, such as cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, or online predators, among other concerning issues.

Finally, the top solution is the Bark Phone. More than just a plan, this one integrates with a Samsung A13 phone, that also includes the preceding Bark Premium plan for the entire family. The phone plan starts at $49/month for unlimited calls and text but only Wi-Fi data, goes up to $59/month to add 4 GB of data, and tops out at $69/month for 8 GB of data. It is designed to not look like a clunky ‘Kids phone,’ but allows the parent to customize the security needed. It enables the parent to block VPN installation, approval of new contacts, to block websites and apps, and even to remotely lock the phone should your child need a break. We also note that there is no cost for the phone, and it includes a charging cable, and case.


(Image credit: Bark)

Bark: Support

There are multiple options to get support for Bark. For direct support, we found only a single option, a support portal, which had a provision to include a file to clarify the issue. We did not find other options, such as chat, a direct email, or a direct phone number.

For the self help support area, there were some choices, but again it was limited. One is an extensive FAQ, with articles covering a large variety of topics. We also liked the blog, and upon further inspection, it has plenty of recent content, with multiple articles from this month, such as the relevant “How to Stay Safe on Social Media: 7 Quick Tips.” Our criticism, like the direct support, is that there are no other options, as we did not find a community forum, ebook, whitepaper, webinar, nor any video content.

Bark: Final verdict

Bark offers an innovative solution to the important problem of keeping children safe when online. We like features such as the ability to set limits on screen time, the free trial, the ability to keep tabs on a child’s location, that the phone plan includes a decent device, and the affordable entry plan. 

Some downsides to keep in mind encompass the limited support options with a total lack of phone support, and that the base phone plan has no mobile data and is expensive for an essentially basic phone plan. 

Still, Bark can be an important tool for monitoring the social media activity of a child, and we appreciate that the non-phone plan supports multiple children at the same price point making this a better deal for a larger family.

DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software review
3:09 am | June 14, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Eschewing a flashy website, DMDE - DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software gets down to business by telling you exactly what to expect from its no-nonsense recovery tool. With five license options beyond the free tool, DMDE is a bit of a mystery, offering multiple languages on its website ( English, French German and Russian) but no clue as to its origins, other than launching in 2008. Its "About" page only explains the software, rather than the company and developers. 

The "WHOIS" information for is also another dead end as the registrar details are protected by a domain privacy service. 

A number of the online reviews linked on DMDE's website, list its creator as one Dmitry Sidorov, a Russian software publisher. Our searches found a developer of that name on the "Herd Protect" platform who seemingly has worked on the Windows version of the app but there's no way to confirm this.   

Sales support is available in Canada and the USA, although both agencies appear to be operating under license, with different websites. 

All of this makes DMDE rather enigmatic.

That mystery aside, how well does DMDE recover your lost files?


DMDE offers a free version as well as several other editions (Image credit: DMDE Software)

DMDE: Free vs other options

DMDE is available in multiple editions.

Before purchasing, the developer recommends using the free edition to "make sure you are able to recover and open necessary files." DMDE Free Edition can recover up to 4000 files at a time which makes it useful in small scale recovery jobs. This is less useful for recovering disks and partitions, however, which is where the paid options come in.


You can choose a package for one operating system or upgrade to one that covers several (Image credit: DMDE Software)

Five different licenses are available, scaled to specific uses. An Express one-year license is $20, whereas a Standard license for DMDE is $48. Both options are for a single operating system (Windows, macOS, Linux). There is also a Standard license for multiple operating systems ($67).

DMDE Professional is $95 for one OS, or $133 for installation on multiple operating systems. DMDE also offers a discount for multiple licenses. This is just as well, as once the "1-OS" version has been installed on a particular OS like Windows, you cannot reinstall on another system like Linux.

When visiting the website to install the Windows edition, we found out that the software was available in ZIP file. This caused a red flag for Windows Defender which initially blocked the download.

Once downloaded, you need to extract the ZIP archive to a new folder and run DMDE from there. The utility won't appear in your installed programs, so you'll need to return to this folder each time or place a shortcut somewhere convenient like the Desktop.

Both versions 4.0.2 and 4.0.6 of the utility are available for download. In our tests we used 4.0.2, as DMDE claim it's the most popular version. Although we opted to use the version of DMDE which came with a GUI, command line lovers will be pleased to learn that there's also a console version for Windows, macOS and Linux.


You can even manage the partitions on your computer with DMDE (Image credit: DMDE Software)

DMDE: Key recovery features

Using DMDE Free Edition to recover data gives you the option to recover up to 4000 files at a time. You can do this by selecting files in a particular panel, although there's no maximum limit to the number of files you can recover overall. 

It also offers partition management as well as disk imaging and cloning. DMDE Free Edition finds lost data via a thorough volume search, and the disk editor lets you navigate and browse various disk structures.

NTFS Search

DMDE suports NTFS, FAT, exFAT and many other formats (Image credit: DMDE Software)

The tool supports NTFS, FAT formats, exFAT, Ext formats, HFS+/HFSX, ReFS, APFS, ext2, ext3, ext4 and btrfs. It can both scan and manage partitions in these formats.

The DMDE Manual cautions that it can only perform recovery on partitions supported by the guest OS. For example a Windows machine doesn't support the ext4 format used by most versions of Linux by default. 

The utility can also recovery NTFS encrypted files but naturally it can't decrypt them for you. The developers have confirmed via their feedback page that they plan to include support for Bitlocker encrypted drives but such changes can take time. 

Finding files with DMDE Free Edition

Launching DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software prompts the Select Disk/Task dialogue, also available in the Disk menu. From here, you select the device to scan, then click OK. 

We were pleased to see that helpful 'hints' appeared next to each of the main options upon launch. You can click on each hint to display the next one. This happened each time we loaded the utility, which could prove annoying to experienced users especially as there's no obvious way to turn the hints off.

Still, thanks to these hints you'll be guided to the next window, where you can choose any partition of the chosen disk, see relevant data about it, then click "Full Scan" to commence recovery. You can do this both on the disk and on individual partitions. 

The list of recoverable files is accompanied by a Preview pane, where completeness can be assessed. To recover a file, check the box, right-click, and select Recover. Multiple files can be selected (as noted, up to 4000 files) and the Recover data button clicked. If you're using the Free Edition, you'll also need to do this folder by folder.

Recovered data is saved to the same folder where DMDE is located by default but you can create/specify another directory if you wish.

Checking logical disks, disk images, and constructing RAID disks are all available from the Select Disk/Task window.

How we Tested 

For our data recovery tests we used a virtual machine with a clean install of Windows 11. The only third-party tools installed besides DMDE were VLC Media Player and GIMP. 

Data Files

The files we chose for recovery are an album of Mozart's Music available from the Internet Archive. 

We did this as we wanted to see how the utility performed with a wide variety of files.The album included 4 music files (2 in Mp3 and 2 in FLAC) format, 6 JPG image files of album covers (with thumbnails) and 2 PNG image files. The files also included 2 XML files, a torrent file and an 'SQLite' file containing details of the album. There were 25 files in total. 

We copied the files in the music album to a 512MB virtual NTFS-formatted hard drive, which was then attached to the Windows 11 virtual machine.

Data Tests

The tests were performed one after the other on three separate virtual drives:

1. File deletion : the album files were simply deleted from the drive and the Recycle Bin emptied. No other data was copied to the drive. We then tried to recover the files. 

2. Delete & Format : The files were deleted as outlined above and we also performed a 'Quick Format' using the 'Disk Management' utility built into Windows 11. We then tried to recover the files from the formatted partition. 

3. Recover corrupted files: We used the freeware program 'Victoria' to overwrite the volume header of the drive containing the files with zeroes. The drive didn't mount automatically in File Explorer and showed as being unpartitioned in Windows "Disk Management" utility. We then checked if the utility could see it and if so, recover the files. 

We do not believe that running data recovery tools in a virtual environment has a significant effect on how they function. Still, if you're considering buying software we encourage you to read all reviews thoroughly and make sure that the developer offers a refund policy.

DMDE: Recovery performance

The good news is that DMDE - DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software is relatively fast. 

Although slower than some alternatives, the depth of recovery was considerable.

In our first test, DMDE quickly recognized all 25 deleted files and we were able to recover them to a folder complete with filenames. 

We next tested on the drive where the files had been deleted and then the drive itself given a "quick" format. This gave us a chance to use DMDE's "raw" feature which searches for file data even if there are missing headers or other information.

In this case 23 of the original 25 files were recovered (the .torrent and the .sqlite file didn't make it). One of the MP3 files was also only partially recovered : around 6 minutes of a 9:38 minute track were playable. The remaining files opened without issue, although as this was 'raw' data the original filenames were missing.

Our final test was on the drive with the corrupted volume header. DMDE spotted the lost partition immediately and prompted us to run a full scan. When we did so it was able to detect all 25 files, which we were able to restore fully with their original filenames. 

DMDE - DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software's various expanded features like searching for 'raw'  data impressive. Investigating these further, we took the time to create a disk image of the disk in question, while it was still unmountable. 

The image was easy to create, resulting in a BIN file that could itself be mounted in DMDE and used for recovery. 

You'll appreciate the benefit of having this feature and using it on an old HDD that is about to break, as this way you can attempt recovery of your data without risking further damage to the drive itself. 

This could also be a good way to allow others to perform file recovery operations on your drive remotely, as the BIN file could be sent via a file sharing service like Dropbox.


There is a manual available on DMDE Software's website (Image credit: DMDE Software)

DMDE: Support

There is virtually no support for DMDE - DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software. While the website offers a 10-point FAQ and detailed online manual (also available as a PDF) with translations in Polish and Russian, technical support is available only via a direct email. 


You can also get in touch via a contact form (Image credit: DMDE Software)

Feedback can be sent through the website, but it misses a detailed, searchable knowledge base and chat support. There is no reference to any social network accounts or a Reddit page.

In short, if you choose to use DMDE to recover your lost data, manual aside, it's likely to be a slow process if you run into trouble. This said, the manual is comprehensive in terms of explaining what DMDE can and can't do, as well as how to perform basic recovery operations.

Hopefully, this is sufficient to retrieve lost data, but given the depth of options in this software it seems strange that more in-depth support isn't available. The hints do go a long way to preventing DMDE becoming overwhelming for new users.

DMDE: Final verdict

With so many recovery tools on the market with varying levels of competence, speed, features, and pricing, it is easy to be suspicious of DMDE - DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software. 

But this is a feature packed recovery tool with a free mode that is ideal for all but the most devastating recovery scenarios. 4000 files per recovery session is enough in most cases, and that's before considering the paid options which are surprisingly affordable when compared with others.

While the user interface presents information that might be potentially confusing to the uninitiated, it boasts features that other tools omit, can handle RAID construction, and create disk images. 

The Express license alone is a bargain, DMDE - DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software is available for Linux and macOS as well as Windows, making it perhaps the best free and paid recovery solution available.

IONOS website builder review
2:32 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

IONOS has a prominent website-building platform that offers you an easy and intuitive way to create attractive websites. It's no secret that creating a website from scratch can be both time-consuming and expensive. 

IONOS has made it to get your site up and running in no time with one of the best website builder services on the market. But what exactly does IONOS offer? Is the platform actually worth your time and money? Let’s take a closer look at the features and capabilities of this popular website builder.  

 What is IONOS?

Rated 4.4 on Trustpilot at the time of this review, IONOS is a comprehensive web hosting platform that offers everything from domain registration and storage space to email accounts and website creation tools. 

With IONOS Website Builder, you have access to an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that makes creating websites quick and easy - even if you have no coding experience. 

The IONOS Website Builder allows you to customize your sites with a variety of themes and templates. Themes range from simple one-page designs to more complex multi-page designs with multiple columns and elements. 

You can also customize each page’s content with text, images, videos, forms, maps, and more. Additionally, IONOS Website Builder comes with built-in SEO features such as automatic meta tags and descriptions so that your site will be optimized for search engines right out of the gate. 


IONOS has a bunch of nice looking responsive templates (Image credit: 1&1 Ionos)


One of the first steps in creating a website is registering a domain name. With IONOS, you can register new domains or transfer existing ones in just minutes. Plus, all websites created with IONOS come with an SSL certificate included for free so that your customers can make purchases from your site securely. 

You can use the easy-to-use drag and drop editor to quickly create stunning websites with no coding knowledge required. You can also customize HTML and CSS to refine your webpages if you have coding experience. No matter what type of website you need, IONOS will have it covered; from portfolios and blogs to eCommerce stores and more! 

The ecommerce feature allows you to start an online shop without stress. With IONOS's ecommerce feature, you can create a fully functioning online store without having any prior coding knowledge or experience. You can add products and services easily and manage payments with secure checkout processes using the PayPal integration system available within the platform. 

All websites created using IONOS are hosted on reliable servers located around the world so that customers can access your site quickly no matter where they are located. Plus, if you don't want to use IONOS's hosting services, you can connect your own server instead. With the WordPress feature, you can install WordPress onto any domain connected to IONOS's hosting service so that you can get up and running quickly. 

The email feature allows you to create professional email addresses using your chosen domain name which allows customers and visitors alike to contact you directly without having to go through third-party emails such as Gmail or Yahoo. 


The interface is straightforward, and you're able to choose from hundreds of responsive templates. These are grouped by topics or you can search the collection by keyword, and most of our test searches returned plenty of good-looking designs.

If you’d rather start from scratch, you can select a blank template instead. You still get all the core layouts, but no graphics. These could make it easier to create your own vision, as you're no longer distracted by the big photo of a dog, or a skier, or a pizza, or whatever else is plastered over the front page of a regular template.

Click a template thumbnail and you're able to view larger images of the desktop, tablet and mobile views of the sites. Unfortunately, and unlike most of the competition, there doesn’t appear to be an option to preview the template as an active site in your browser.


IONOS comes with all the features you’d expect, including blogging and an online store (Image credit: 1&1 Ionos)


Tap into Google’s massive network of customers with IONOS’s Google Ads Management service tool. With this tool, you can handle all aspects of setting up and managing Google Ads campaigns – from keyword research to bidding strategies – so you don’t have to worry about anything but results. 

Maximize your visibility on search engines with IONOS’s SEO tool, rankingCoach! This unique tool provides personalized step-by-step instructions on how to optimize each page of your site for maximum SEO effectiveness. With rankingCoach, you can easily monitor and track your progress towards achieving high organic ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs). Plus, this tool helps guide you through any changes needed for better performance on SERPs without having to hire expensive consultants or agencies for assistance.

If you want a powerful ecommerce solution that offers great flexibility and scalability, then IONOS’s Magento hosting or PrestaShop hosting tool may be right for you! Both tools offer reliable cloud server hosting tailored exclusively for those platforms, giving you complete control over your storefront while also providing advanced security measures to keep customer data safe from malicious actors. Additionally, both tools are perfect for businesses looking for comprehensive features such as inventory management systems and integrated payment gateways.     

Securely back up all of your data with the IONOS Cloud Backup tool – an easy way for you to protect your servers or cloud infrastructure against unexpected disasters or malicious attacks with automated backup processes that run continuously in the background without disrupting other tasks running on your systems. 

IONOS website builder pricing

(Image credit: IONOS)

IONOS website builder pricing: Is it good value for money? 

The Starter Plan is an excellent option for those who are just getting started with their online presence. For $5 per month (for six months) or $9 per month (for 12 months), you’ll get access to ready-made templates, content management tools, and customization options to help you create your own website. You can also add your own images, and text to make it unique. 

If you’re looking for more creative freedom, this is the plan for you. For $15 per month (for 12 months), you get all the features of starter plus unlimited bandwidth, SEO optimization tools, and online bookable services. This makes it easier than ever to showcase your products or services on your own website and start growing your business quickly. 

For those who need even more features and customization options, there’s the Pro plan. At $25 per month (for six months), this includes all the features of the previous plan plus a dedicated SEO optimization tool that will help get you seen by search engines like Google. It also offers unlimited storage space so that you never have to worry about running out of space for hosting images or videos on your website. 

 Is IONOS website builder easy to use? 

IONOS offers a variety of templates and themes from which to choose that are suitable for any type of website. Whether you’re creating an online shop, blog, portfolio site, or something else entirely, IONOS has the perfect design for you. The platform also offers flexible customization options so that you can tweak the template or theme to your liking. 

In addition, IONOS provides you with powerful features and image editing tools that make it easy to customize your site without any coding knowledge or experience. This accessibility makes IONOS one of the most user-friendly website builders on the market today.  

IONOS website builder safety and security 

IONOS provides SSL certificates for secure web traffic between your site and its visitors. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It's an encryption technology that makes sure the data being sent between two computers is kept secure and private. 

This means that private information like credit card numbers or passwords can't be intercepted by malicious third-parties while in transit. By using an SSL certificate with IONOS, you can ensure that your customers' data is safe and protected, which is essential for building trust in your business. 

IONOS also offers domain security to help protect your site from malicious actors who may try to exploit vulnerabilities in the domain registration process. With domain security.

IONOS website builder customer support

(Image credit: IONOS)

Help and support 

IONOS offers email support which allows you to reach out directly with your questions or concerns. We sent a message to the support team via email and got prompt replies within 10 minutes. 

If you need more immediate assistance, then live chat is also available on the IONOS website. This option allows customers to connect directly with customer service representatives in real time, making it easy to get help when it's most needed. 

IONOS website builder alternatives 

Squarespace is a popular website builder tool that offers a simple drag-and-drop interface. This platform makes it easy for you to quickly create stunning sites without any coding knowledge. It also provides an array of templates to choose from, making customization fast and easy. 

Wix is another IONOS website builder alternatives that has been around for some time now. It offers the same drag-and-drop interface as Squarespace but also includes additional features such as blog tools, photo galleries, and contact forms. Wix also offers unlimited hosting and bandwidth along with ecommerce solutions for those who want to set up.

Is IONOS website builder right for you? 

Whether or not IONOS is the right website builder for you depends on what kind of website you're looking to create. If you're looking for something simple but still professional-looking like a portfolio site or small business site, then IONOS could be the perfect solution. 

However, if you're looking for something more complex — such as a website built with PHP or python programming language, you may want to consider other options as well since IONOS doesn't offer much in terms of advanced coding scripts.

Kobo Elipsa review
9:46 am | June 10, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Kobo Elipsa: two-minute review

With a 10.3-inch screen, the Kobo Elipsa is not the largest ereader that’s ever been made – consider the 13.3-inch Onyx Boox Max3 for example – but it is for Kobo. It’s also the only device from the Japanese-Canadian ereader maker to ship with a stylus in the box. 

Kobo is touting the Elipsa as not just an ereader, but as a research device that you can jot notes on, putting it in competition with the likes of the ReMarkable 2 and, more recently, the Amazon Kindle Scribe. The difference here, though, is that you need to jump through hoops to use the ReMarkable as a reading device – it’s more a digital note-taker than ereader – while the Kindle counterpart just doesn't have the extensive note-taking abilities of the Elipsa.

Despite its writing prowess, the Kobo Elipsa is an ereader first – just one that can multitask, and that's evident in how the Kobo Stylus functions. While it's not quite real-time responsive, it is fast enough to not throw you off but writing on the screen isn't quite as smooth as it is on the newer E Ink note-taking tablets. That said, the Elipsa's ability to recognize handwriting to convert to text has always been remarkable, and is now better and faster after some firmware updates since its launch in 2021. 

For the most part, the Elipsa does exactly what it says on the tin – it lets you read, make annotations, draw, create lists, buy ebooks, borrow ebooks from a public library and read web articles via Pocket. However, there are some caveats that make the Elipsa hard to recommend.

Stylus support is locked to ebooks you buy directly from the Kobo Store, meaning you can’t annotate a sideloaded EPUB. However, you can write and draw on sideloaded PDFs. For a company that has a reputation for not locking down its ecosystem, it does feel as though Kobo is taking a step in that direction by allowing you to write only on locked ebooks.

Then there’s the size and weight considerations. Kobo says the Elipsa is an ereader first, but with a screen size of 10.3 inches and 383g in weight, it’s not quite as portable as traditional ereaders. It’s too large to use on public transport, even if you’ve got a seat, and feels heavy in the hand, even without a sleepcover. And, it’s not designed for one-handed use. But that's not unique to Kobo – every 10.3-inch E Ink tablet we've tested is going to feel cumbersome as an ereader.

The stylus doesn't feel quite as natural as the experience we've had with the Kindle Scribe. Where Amazon has managed to make writing on its first large-screen ereader buttery smooth, Kobo didn't quite achieve that. To be fair, the Kobo model is much older and technology keeps improving, which we hope to see in the Elipsa 2, if there is one.

All said and done, for a first attempt at a stylus-toting digital note-taker, Kobo’s done quite well with the Elipsa, even adding some bang-for-buck when compared to some of its competition.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Elipsa review: price and availability

  • Announced May 20, 2021
  • Launch price of $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$599.95
  • Ships with sleepcover and stylus

Usually Kobo ereaders ship as a standalone device and you can then buy accessories like sleepcovers separately. However, the brand has taken a different approach with the Kobo Elipsa, selling it as a bundle, including the sleepcover and the stylus with the tablet, in a package called the Elipsa Pack. This will set you back $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$599.95, which is quite competitive considering you’re getting the accessories as well.

In comparison, the ReMarkable 2 costs $399 / £399 / $679 for the tablet alone. You’ll need to pay an extra $49 / £49 / AU$79 to get the Marker (stylus). There is a Folio available for the ReMarkable 2, but that too is an extra expense. 

The much newer Amazon Kindle Scribe that was announced late in 2022 costs $339.99 / £339.99 / AU$549.99 for 16GB of storage with basic pen. To put that into context, the Elipsa comes with 32GB of storage by default, with a stylus that includes erase and highlight buttons. You do the maths.

While it might hold its own against the direct competition, the Elipsa costs more than the 2021 10.2-inch Apple iPad, a far more versatile device with a color screen, multimedia support and access to the App Store. However, it would be unfair to compare a traditional tablet to an E Ink device as their use cases are quite different and, in case case, it's cheaper than the 2022 10.9-inch iPad.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Elipsa review: design and display

  • 10.3-inch screen
  • No warm LEDs
  • USB-C charging port

If you’ve never used a ReMarkable tablet or an Onyx Boox Note Air before, then think of the Kobo Elipsa as an oversized Kindle Oasis that you can write on. The reason we’re comparing the Elipsa with the premium Amazon device is because, like the Oasis, the Kobo’s screen is flush with the bezels, whereas all other Kobo devices have their screen set into a recess below the bezels. And now that the Kindle Scribe is out, there's comparisons that can be made between the two direct competitors.

Kobo Elipsa key specs

Screen type: E Ink Carta 1200
Screen size: 10.3 inch
Resolution: 227ppi
Storage: 32GB
Battery: 2,400mAh
Connectivity: Wi-Fi + USB-C
Frontlight: white LED only
Dimensions: 193 x 227.5 x 7.6 mm
Weight: 383g without accessories

Thanks to the E Ink Carta 1200 screen tech used on the Elipsa, the display is plenty sharp despite a resolution of 227ppi (1404x1872). Most popular ereaders today have a screen resolution of 300ppi, but there are large-screen E Ink devices with the same 227ppi display, like the Onyx Boox Note Air. This is the same screen technology that's used in pretty much every new ereader available today, at least those released since 2021, and it makes the touchscreen 20% more responsive than older Carta 1000 panels with 15% more contrast ratio too.

The Kindle Scribe, however, has a far brighter and sharper screen even though it uses the same tech. There's 300ppi resolution in the newer device and it's really nice and bright.

Like all the Kobos, the Elipsa’s screen is also front-lit, but there are no amber LEDs here. That means that while you can dim the brightness, there’s no way to change the hue (temperature) of the light at night to warmer tones as you can on most Kobo devices – a major design flaw for a device that costs as much as the Elipsa. However, there is a ‘dark mode’ available on board that switches black text on white to white text on black.

Kobo Elipsa

Kobo Elipsa vs Kobo Libra H2O (Image credit: TechRadar)

The Elipsa’s large size means it’s heavier than most popular ereaders, which also happen to be smaller. Where most ereaders weigh around 200g or less, the Kobo Elipsa is a much heavier 383g for the tablet alone. That’s lighter than the 10.3-inch Onyx Boox Note Air (which weighs 420g) and the Amazon Kindle Scribe (433g), but still feels heavy in the hand. It takes getting used to, but is a little unwieldy when used either in bed or on public transport. We also found that the most comfortable way to use it as a note-taking device was to have it on a table.

While its size and weight make it difficult to use single-handed, it would have been easier if there were page-turn buttons (like on the Oasis and Kobo Libra H2O). There is ample room for them as one side bezel is wider than the other. Presumably this wider bezel is there so you can hold the device comfortably while writing, but if you find yourself putting it down to do so most of the time, that space could have been put to better use. That said, we're yet to come across a 10.3-inch E Ink device from any brand with physical page-turn buttons.

On the side of the wider bezel is the power button, which we found to be too small and awkwardly placed to find. Beside that is a USB-C port – the first Kobo ereader to adopt it – for charging and transferring files.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Unlike the plastic tablet, the Kobo Stylus is all metal, made of aluminum. There are two buttons conveniently situated where your thumb or forefinger would be – one to highlight when reading, the other to erase. Erasing triggers a page refresh, removing any ghosting or shading from the writing. The stylus is powered by a single AAA battery, which means there will be some ongoing cost to maintaining the pen. It’s important to note that the Kobo Stylus is proprietary and no other stylus will work with the Elipsa. So if the nib suffers from wear and tear, you will need to buy the replacement tips from Kobo.

The sleepcover for the Elipsa is different from the usual ones for most ereaders – instead of opening like a book, it pulls up vertically. It has folds that convert the folio to a stand and a niche to stow the Kobo Stylus safely away when not in use.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Elipsa review: ease of use

  • Easy to set up and sync
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Notes are well organized

If there’s one thing that Kobo does well, it’s the device UX. It’s the same Linux-based software in use here as is in all Kobo ereaders, so if you’ve used one before, you’ll be right at home with the Elipsa.

Everything is streamlined as we’ve come to expect from Kobo, with the ability to organize your library as you see fit, plenty of information on the home screen (including recommendations and access to the Kobo Store) and all the important settings at your fingertips. To change the brightness settings on the Elipsa, just drag your finger either up or down the left edge of the screen, but keep in mind this works only when a file is open and not on the home screen.

While the settings options on the top of the home screen remain unchanged, the Elipsa debuted the dedicated My Notebooks tab on the lower navigation bar, which can now also be found on the Kobo Sage. This is where you can draw, write, make notes or create lists, all organized the way you want them. You can have notes with several pages or just one, add more later, change page background, and so much more. Of course, you can even change the hue of the ink in different grayscale shades, while also changing the thickness of the nib.

It’s very easy to connect the Elipsa to Wi-Fi (there's no Bluetooth here) and you can force a sync any time you want. Even using the stylus is intuitive, although it does not work on all files (more on that later).

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Elipsa review: reading experience

  • Large screen suits comics and graphic novels
  • Detects full 360º movement
  • Dark mode

Reading on the Elipsa is pretty much what we’d expect from any other Kobo device – the text is sharp and pictures (including cover art) render very well. In fact, its large screen is perfect for reading non-fiction books with diagrams, maps or images, as well as comics and graphic novels. There’s a lot of flexibility on how small or large you want the font to be – heck, you can even sideload other fonts you prefer, like Amazon’s Bookerly or Ember – or how much line spacing and margins you want.

There’s a pinch-and-zoom functionality available when reading PDFs, which is great to have, but it doesn’t quite work as expected right after launch. When we tried to zoom into a comic strip in PDF format, it turned into static after a second. Opening another PDF resulted in the same issue. This issue has since been resolved and it makes marking up a PDF really simple.

Kobo Elipsa

The pinch-and-zoom experience for PDFs is far from ideal (Image credit: TechRadar)

While there’s no option to alter light temperature to warmer hues in the evening, the Carta 1200 screen supports a dark mode that inverts text to white on a black background. While that does help a little, we think it would be a better reading experience if amber/yellow LEDs were available on the device.

Like the Libra H2O and the Kobo Forma, the Elipsa has gyroscopic sensors that detect full 360º movements. You have the option to lock the movements to just vertical (portrait) orientation or horizontal (landscape) orientation, or let it keep adjusting automatically as you move the device. This, though, can get a little annoying as, occasionally, even the slightest change in angle can trigger a reorientation. When used horizontally, an ebook divides into two pages on screen (resembling an open book) thanks to the space available, which might be preferable to some users.

As before, Kobo isn’t restricting the file format support, with 15 formats supported, including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, RFT, CBZ and CBR. And you can look up the meaning of a word in some European languages (Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese) – handy if you’re learning another language (or improving your English if it’s not your first language).

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You can still long-press to select a word for dictionary lookup and highlight, but it’s definitely easier to use the stylus to do the latter (and this works even on sideloaded EPUBs).

It would have made the reading experience a lot better if the Elipsa had page-turn buttons, but Kobo’s rapid page-turn engine (which debuted in 2018 on the Clara HD) is available – albeit it only works on ebooks purchased from Kobo. It works the same way as before – just long-press on the right bottom corner to move forward or the left bottom corner to go back. The page slider that debuted on the Libra H2O also pops up when you tap on the centre of the screen. However you choose to turn pages, there’s no ghosting or significant black blips caused by refreshes (unless the page has an image).

Like all other Kobos before it, the Elipsa comes with OverDrive, Pocket and Dropbox support baked in. So you can borrow ebooks from your local public library if they support OverDrive, read longform web articles you may have saved to your Pocket account or store your entire digital library on the cloud and download without needing to connect to a computer.

Where the Elipsa excels is viewing PDFs on that 10.3-inch screen, and we found that all DRM-free PDFs are editable.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Elipsa review: writing and drawing experience

  • Can’t write on all files
  • Handwriting converts to digital text
  • Excellent handwriting recognition software

Writing on the Elipsa is a good experience, but not the best. While the stylus isn’t quite real time, there’s only a very marginal lag that’s very easy to get used to. However, the screen isn’t completely smooth, meaning the stylus nib will, over time, suffer from wear and tear, but they are replaceable. In our opinion, the smoothest writing experience is on the Kindle Scribe and the Elipsa does not compete here at all.

Writing or drawing on files stored on the device, though, is restricted. As we mentioned earlier, you can annotate any ebook you’ve bought directly from the Kobo Store, but you can’t on any sideloaded EPUB. For example, you won’t be able to make annotations in the margin of a textbook in EPUB format you may have sourced from elsewhere, but you will be able to highlight sections of text.

It’s a different story with PDFs though. As long as the PDF is not DRM-locked, you can scribble on it, but not highlight. PDFs can also be pinched and zoomed, although we faced rendering issues during our testing. If this functionality works well, you’ll see a small map appear on the top left corner of the page to help you orient. This could be really helpful when filling in PDF forms, for example.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It’s not just books and forms that you can write on. The Elipsa also lets you create new notes on blank pages, all of which automatically get saved in the My Notebooks section accessible via the home screen. There are two types of notebooks – Basic and Advanced. Basic notes can’t be converted from handwriting to text, but can be exported to your computer or Dropbox. Backgrounds of Basic notes can be changed, so you can choose to write on a blank sheet, on a ruled page or on a grid.

If you want to convert your handwritten notes to text, then you’ll need to select an Advanced Notebook. This adds a scrollbar on the right side, in case your note is a long one, and you can insert images and mathematical formulas into Advanced notes. You can't, however, change the background of the page here and you will need to write between the lines on the screen.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Elipsa’s writing capabilities are powered by MyScript, a company that produces real-time handwriting recognition software, and we’re impressed at how well this works. Even when we thought we scribbled deliberately badly on the Elipsa, the software was able to identify the words correctly and convert them into a text file. During our initial testing this process of conversion was slow – it took about 5 seconds for a single sentence to be converted, and up to 30 seconds for a paragraph of about 30 words. Subsequent firmware updates has improved that speed dramatically and, impressively, has even improved handwriting recognition which was already excellent.

Other than different background options, notebooks also allow you to switch orientations, change pens (including a calligraphy pen), and choose the thickness and opacity of the pen. There are even different types of erasers but we found ourselves just using the button on the stylus to ‘undo’ any errors.

So, while all this sounds impressive on paper, the writing experience on the Elipsa feels restrictive because you can’t scribble on sideloaded EPUBs, but then that's the case with the Kindle Scribe too. In fact, when it comes to writing capabilities and features, the Elipsa is the clear winner as the Scribe has only a handful of templates and only one kind of pen. There's also no text conversion of handwritten notes, nor the ability to add images and formulae to copy on the Amazon device.

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Elipsa review: battery life

  • 2,400mAh battery
  • 3-4 week battery life
  • No quick charge capabilities

Like any ereader, the Kobo Elipsa’s battery life is pretty impressive. There’s a 2,400mAh capacity battery under the hood, which is double that of the one in both the Libra H2O and Forma. This big battery can last up to four weeks on a single charge, but that will depend largely on how much you use the device and at what brightness you’ve got the screen set at. 

It takes a little under three hours to top up from 0% to full, which is not too bad considering the 1,200mAh battery in the Libra H2O takes over two hours. Unlike the Onyx Boox Note Air, there’s no quick charge capabilities here. 

Should I buy the Kobo Elipsa?

Kobo Elipsa

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

[First reviewed June 2021]

Duda website builder review
8:17 am | June 8, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Launched in 2010, Duda is a popular website builder which allows users to create fast, modern and mobile-friendly sites. Pay particular attention to that mobile-friendly aspect. Unlike some of the competition, that doesn't just mean 'we have a few mobile-oriented templates' – Duda was designed from the very beginning with full support for building quality responsive websites. 

It comes with a wide range of features including drag-and-drop editing capabilities as well as access to hundreds of templates and widgets. This makes it easy for anyone to build an attractive site in minutes without coding experience. 

Their site includes plenty of information about the service and does a good job helping you understand its features before you sign up. You don't just get a few thumbnails of templates, for instance: viewers can browse everything the service has to offer and preview each template in desktop, tablet or mobile views. 

The reviews on Duda speak volumes about its capabilities. On Trustpilot (an independent review site that hosts thousands of customer feedback) at the time of this review update, Duda has an overall score of 3.9 out of 5 stars. 

Duda features

The Duda App Store lets you easily install apps from over 25 different categories. Whether you’re looking for ecommerce tools, membership options, or website personalization options, there's plenty of options to choose from. 

If you’re running an online store, then you need an ecommerce solution. With Duda, we were able to easily set up an online store with its built-in ecommerce tools. We also took advantage of additional features such as payment processing integration and customer management tools. 

Duda also provides membership options so that your customers can access exclusive content on your site. Whether it’s videos or podcasts, your site visitor can register for a paid membership to access this content without needing to leave your site. This is a great way to generate additional revenue for your business while offering your visitors more value. 

Creating a website from scratch can take a lot of time and effort – but not with Duda. We were able to create a professional-looking website with Duda’s templates. These templates have been carefully crafted by industry experts so that they look great on any device or browser – regardless of size or resolution. Plus, all templates are fully customizable so that you can make them look exactly how you want them to be.

Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular among web users – and if your site isn't optimized for mobile devices then it won't be seen by these potential customers. Fortunately, with Duda's mobile-friendly sites feature, creating mobile websites is easier than ever before. Not only does this feature allow visitors to view your site on any device or browser – but it also allows them to take advantage of features such as click-to-call buttons which give visitors direct access to contact information such as phone numbers and addresses right from their phones. 

Widgets are small pieces of code snippets that add extra functionality and features to websites without needing any coding knowledge whatsoever. During our test, we were able to create custom widgets with drag-and-drop functionality. This can also be used by beginners to customize their sites in no time at all. 

Keeping track of client payments is essential if you're offering services through your website - and luckily with the client billing feature in Duda, we were able to keep track of payments with ease. This feature allows you to easily set up invoicing systems through which you can keep track of clients' payments seamlessly - ensuring that all payments are made promptly and accurately every time. 

Getting started with Duda

When you start your trial, and after you’ve verified your email address (par for the course these days), you’ll be asked about your business - are you a freelancer, a design agency, are you a web designer, or developer, that sort of thing. You’re then promptly sent to Duda’s template selection. 


Duda has many templates to choose from to help you get started quickly… (Image credit: Duda)

It’s incredibly easy to locate the theme you’d like from Duda’s long list. It’s even possible to preview its look on any type of device with just a click. Once you’ve found the template that’s right for you business, Duda will start setting it all up for you.

Fine Tune Design

You can have a light touch on the design or be as manipulative as you’re comfortable with… (Image credit: Duda)

Duda tools

Everyone deserves to experience an accessible website regardless of their disability or technology. With the AudioEye tool, businesses get peace of mind knowing the product they are providing meets WCAG 2.0 AA standards for website accessibility in just a few clicks. Duda’s AudioEye tool allows visitors with visual impairments to access your site’s content in Audio format. 

With the Omni-channel eCommerce tool, you can easily drive sales from both your online stores as well as across the web. All products are synced with the store catalog and managed from one convenient platform. This feature enables customers to shop from anywhere; whether it’s on a computer or mobile device and pay for purchases seamlessly without ever having to leave your site. This helps create a seamless shopping experience that customers will appreciate and come back for again and again. 

The Simple Member Management & Reporting tool makes it easy for you to manage members directly from the Site Overview tab or the side panel of the editor. You can add, edit or remove members quickly while also keeping track of user interactions such as past purchases and more in one convenient place. This simplifies member management while also giving you valuable insight into how people are interacting with your website so you can adjust accordingly.  

If you are a web developer or web designer working with clients, then hiding your platform is essential for maintaining credibility and professionalism. With Duda’s white-label website builder & preview tools, you can place your client’s entire site-building process under your brand. That way your customers will never know that you are using Duda until you tell them yourself. This tool also includes preview tools so that your customers can get an accurate view of how their site will look before it goes live.  

The Dynamic Pages tool is one of Duda’s most powerful tools as it allows you to design a single page once and then use it over and over again for different purposes without having to manually enter new information each time. This tool uses collections of text, images, business information, video, and more to automatically populate pages with relevant data based on user input or preferences. You can even sync these collections with Google Sheets or Airtable for even faster results.


Click on an object to be presented with numerous customising options… (Image credit: Duda)

Is Duda easy to use?

Duda has several features that make it easier for you to build the website you want without having to go through a complex process. For instance, you can drag and drop elements wherever you need them on your site. This makes it easy if you don’t have coding knowledge to add images, videos, and text boxes wherever you need them. 

The dashboard is also designed in such a way that makes it easier for you to manage and edit your sites. The tools are all clearly labeled and easy to access – which means you don’t have to waste time figuring out how each tool works or where they’re located in the dashboard. This makes it possible for anyone with no web design experience at all to quickly and easily create a beautiful website that looks professionally done. 

All of these features combine in such a way that makes Duda an incredibly user-friendly platform that anyone can use.


Choosing the right pricing plan for your website can be a daunting task. Fortunately, Duda has broken down its pricing plans into four different tiers: Basic, Team, Agency, and white label.

The basic plan from Duda is priced at $14 per month, billed annually. This plan includes hosting on AWS, one site, and email support. It’s great for those who are just getting started with their website or need an easy-to-use platform without any extra features. 

Looking to add more features to your website? The team plan is priced at $22 per month which is billed annually. It includes everything in the basic plan plus up to 4 team members, client management tools, and client billing options. This makes it ideal for businesses that need collaboration tools and want to give clients access to their accounts on the site. 

For those looking for even more features, there’s the agency plan priced at $44 per month, billed annually. This plan gives users access to up to 10 team members, priority email, phone & chat support, widget builder options, dynamic pages feature, site export options, and more. This is great for larger businesses or agencies that need powerful tools to build complex websites quickly and easily. 

The white label plan is priced at $74/month and includes 4 sites with AWS hosting, priority email, phone & chat support, up to 10 team members, client management, client billing, widget builder, dynamic pages, and site export. It also comes equipped with custom platform domain branding, branded client communication, a white-label support portal, and a branded client login screen. This option is ideal for larger businesses or agencies that need multiple sites with more advanced features.               


Blogging is easy with Duda, and pretty thorough… (Image credit: Duda)

Blogging and selling

The blogging feature offers you pretty much everything you need. You have the ability to add a featured image, your editing tools are as you’d expect, with a choice of font type, size and weight, links, bullets, numbers, etc. If you need it, you probably got it. You can also include images, set up comments and schedule when you want your post to be published. It’s a good, all-round blogging tool.

The ecommerce side of things is also pretty comprehensive, with numerous options available to you to fully customise each page to suit your needs.

Image Editing

Duda has powerful image editing tools… (Image credit: Duda)

Unlike most website builders, Duda also comes with a good array of image editing tools. You have numerous Instagram-like filters, and access to regular image adjustment tools (such as brightness, gamma, exposure, etc). There’s even text, stickers and paint tools available. It’s pretty impressive.

Video can also be added to your site, as long as it’s hosted on YouTube, Vimeo or Daily Motion (we don’t see many services that support Daily Motion, so this is a win for flexibility and versatility).

Duda's security

Duda offers an optional SSL certificate for all websites hosted on its platform. An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a security protocol that encrypts data sent between a web server and a browser. This ensures that any personal information entered into your website is kept secure and protected from any potential hackers or malicious actors. The SSL certificate also adds an extra layer of protection against data breaches and other cyberattacks. 

Finally, Duda also provides a Password Manager feature which allows you to store their passwords securely within the platform itself. This means that even if someone does get access to your account, they won't be able to view or use your passwords unless they have the correct login credentials for the Password Manager. This added layer of security further protects your account from malicious actors looking to gain access without authorization. 

Customer support

Duda offers comprehensive and up-to-date information through its Knowledge Base & Documentation section. This section contains detailed step-by-step instructions on how to use various features on Duda, as well as frequently asked questions (FAQ) about common issues that may arise when using the platform. Additionally, this page also contains links to other helpful resources such as user guides, tutorials, and videos that can help you get started quickly with your website.  

If you require more personal help with your website or need assistance troubleshooting something specific, then Duda has you covered in this area too. With live chat, you can get quick answers from knowledgeable customer service representatives when needed. Plus, Duda even offers priority support for businesses that need immediate solutions or have urgent requests for their websites.  

In addition to having access to direct customer service representatives via live chat or phone calls, Duda also provides users with access to its online forum and community support networks. This is great for users who are looking for advice from fellow web developers or want to learn from others who may have encountered similar challenges as they work on their websites.  

Duda alternatives

Squarespace has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that makes it simple to design a beautiful website from scratch. Squarespace also offers dozens of templates that can help you get started quickly if you don’t have time to build your site from scratch. 

WordPress is another great option for building websites. Unlike many other site builders, WordPress isn't a drag-and-drop platform - instead, it's a content management system (CMS). This means that you have much more control over how your site looks and functions than with other platforms like Duda or Squarespace. Plus, WordPress has an extensive library of themes and plugins so you can customize every aspect of your site. The only downside is that setting up WordPress can be complicated if you're not familiar with coding or web development in general. 

If ease of use is what you're looking for in a website builder, then Wix might be the solution for you. Wix doesn't require any coding knowledge - just point and click. It has hundreds of templates available so you can easily create a stunning website in minutes without having any prior design experience. Additionally, Wix offers powerful features like customizable forms and ecommerce solutions so you can easily manage customer orders on your site. 

Is Duda right for you? 

Duda offers an extensive package of features that make it easy to build and maintain a website. It includes everything from template designer tools, customization capabilities, content management tools, e-commerce integrations, SEO optimization options, and more. All of these features work together to give you control over how your website looks and functions. 

In addition to having lots of features that make it easy to customize your website, Duda also offers several helpful support resources. From getting started tutorials to detailed user guides and FAQs, there are plenty of resources available that can help you design the perfect site for your business or organization in no time. 

Duda website builder FAQs

Can I try out Duda before purchasing?

Yes. Duda offers a 14-day free trial with all the features available in the Team plan so that you can play around with the platform and make sure it fits your needs before making any commitment.  

Does my website have to be hosted with Duda?

All websites built on the Duda platform are hosted on our servers via Amazon Web Services (AWS). This guarantees your sites maintain a 99.999% uptime. However, if you’re on an Agency or Custom plan, you can export code from Duda - but importing code from an external source isn’t allowed.  

What CDN does Duda use?

All websites created with Duda are served via Amazon's Cloudfront CDN for lightning-fast loading speeds. This makes sure visitors have quick access to your website no matter where they are located and that your content is delivered quickly and reliably across all devices.  

Iolo Search and Recover review
9:01 am | June 2, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

When you've deleted files, folders, or partitions in error, you need an affordable data recovery solution that works fast.

That's exactly the idea behind IOLO Search And Recover 4, which lays claim to speedy, "fast" recovery and "one-click restoration."

Established in 1998, IOLO is a US-based company that has provided award winning software to millions of customers and over 80 million devices. That's quite a reputation – but is IOLO Search And Recover 4 going to meet expectations? 

Iolo Search and Recover review

Iolo Search and Recover is an affordable data recovery solution (Image credit: Iolo)

Iolo Search and Recover: Plans and pricing

Many data recovery tools provide a free trial or a free option. Free trials are typically limited by functionality – some will only show you what you can recover, whereas others put a cap on the volume of data recovered.

This isn't the case with IOLO Search And Recover 4. There is no accessible free trial and no free download. Instead, you have the option of buying the data recovery utility for a $39.95 (£32) annual license or not buying it. Currently Iolo Search and Recover's available at a special price of just $31.95 (£26).

While Iolo Search and Recovery is available as a standalone tool, it's also included in System Mechanic Ultimate Defense. This is another Iolo product which combines 7 of their tools into a single dashboard. This includes antivirus/malware protection as well as tools to securely delete files, so they can't be recovered with most commercial data recovery methods. The System Mechanic suite is currently available for $63.94 (£52). 

This is twice the price of the IOLO tool on its own but good value for money when compared to buying individual programs for antivirus protection, secure file deletion and so on. 

During our most recent tests we used a copy of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense to try to recover data, but we only used the "Search and Recover" tool. 

As it is more affordable than many competing products, these are price points that might suit you, especially if you can recover your data. 

You can also use the software in evaluation mode, but this isn't accessible until you actually pay for it. 

IOLO Search And Recover comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and can be used on all of your home PCs. It runs on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and Windows 10.

Iolo Search and Recover review

Iolo Search and Recover is backed by a number of special features (Image credit: Iolo)

Iolo Search and Recover: Key recovery features

You can expect to find and recover deleted and lost media files, office documents, system files, and even emails with IOLO Search And Recover.

Capable of recovering emails from Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, and even older apps like Netscape Mail and Eudora, IOLO Search And Recover 4 can potentially help you recover lost email messages from years ago.

There is also support for removable media, such as cameras and memory cards, CDs, DVDs, USB flash drives, and MP3 players. IOLO Search And Recover 4 can even recover from IDE, SCSI, USB, USB 2.0, FireWire, and other drive connections. 

Importantly, it also claims to be able to recover data from "malfunctioning, damaged, formatted, and repartitioned drives and devices," though this wasn't borne out in our test (see below) 

How we tested 

For our data recovery tests we used a virtual machine with a clean install of Windows 11. The only third-party tools installed besides System Mechanic Ultimate Defences (which incorporates Iolo Search and Recover), were VLC Media Player and GIMP. 

Data files

The files we chose for recovery are an album of Mozart's Music available from the Internet Archive. 

We did this as we wanted to see how the utility performed with a wide variety of files.The album included 4 music files (2 in Mp3 and 2 in FLAC) format, 6 JPG image files of album covers (with thumbnails) and 2 PNG image files. The files also included 2 XML files, a torrent file and an 'SQLite' file containing details of the album. There were 25 files in total. 

We copied the files in the music album to a 512MB virtual NTFS-formatted hard drive, which was then attached to the Windows 11 virtual machine.

Data tests

The tests were performed one after the other on three separate virtual drives:

1. File deletion: the album files were simply deleted from the drive and the Recycle Bin emptied. No other data was copied to the drive. We then tried to recover the files. 

2. Delete & format: The files were deleted as outlined above and we also performed a 'Quick Format' using the 'Disk Management' utility built into Windows 11. We then tried to recover the files from the formatted partition. 

3. Recover corrupted files: We used the freeware program 'Victoria' to overwrite the volume header of the drive containing the files with zeroes. The drive didn't mount automatically in File Explorer and showed as being unpartitioned in Windows "Disk Management" utility. We then checked if the utility could see it and if so, recover the files. 

We do not believe that running data recovery tools in a virtual environment has a significant effect on how they function. Still, if you're considering buying software we encourage you to read all reviews thoroughly and make sure that the developer offers a refund policy.

Iolo Search and Recover review

There are five different search options available (Image credit: Iolo)

Iolo Search and Recover: Finding files

Back in 2021 when we first reviewed IOLO Search and Recover 4, we tested with an unmountable 16GB SanDisk Cruzer Blade USB thumb drive. This was connected to a Windows 10 laptop (a Dell 5505).

It was a perfect opportunity to test IOLO Search And Recover 4's claim to be able to handle "malfunctioning, damaged" drives. Sadly, despite demanding nearly $40 to use the software, IOLO could not recover data from our unmountable USB device. 

Unfortunately it seems not much has changed in recent years. Our test on a drive with a corrupted volume header had the same result : the disk appeared in Windows 11 Disk Management Utility but when we fired up the Search and Recovery tool, the drive wasn't listed.

This is in contrast to other data recovery tools which offer a free tier like EaseUS Data Recovery Pro, which almost instantly recognized the lost partition. Even if IOLO's tool had been able to see the lost partition, it also only offers an option to recover data: there doesn't seem to be a feature for rebuilding the filesystem. Naturally we can't be certain of this as the utility couldn't see the corrupted volume.  

Iolo Search and Recover review

Standard, SmartScan, and StrongScan options are available (Image credit: Iolo)

Iolo Search and Recover: Recovery performance

IOLO's Data Recovery Tool had much more joy with the other drives we tested. The recovery interface is very straightforward to use in that you can choose both a "Search Location" and where to "Save Recovered Files". 

One minor annoyance is that unlike other data recovery tools we've reviewed, you can't create a new folder to store the recovered files from within the app. This is a minor point and doesn't take away from the fact that the tool is extremely well laid out and simple to use. 

Iolo Search and Recover review

These are the results of a SmartScan conducted with Iolo Search and Recover (Image credit: Iolo)

Standard analysis ("SmartScan") of the virtual 512GB drive completed in just a few seconds, which was much faster than expected. The "SmartScan" feature supposedly exists to ignore "junk" and "irrelevant" files, so you can get at your data. We assume this means it won't recover files that were created by the computer like System Volume Information but focus on human-created ones instead.

We also performed a "StrongScan" of the drive. This tool analyses the drive more deeply for lost data by looking for fragments and trying to rebuild files.  

We were able to compare the two types of scans in our first test. The initial "SmartScan was able to recognize 24 of the 25 deleted files from the virtual drive. These files listed as "Good" and when we restored them to a folder on the hard drive, we found they could open without issue. 

When we ran the test again using "StrongScan", the missing JPG turned up along with 44 other files which were actually duplicates of the originals and system files. 

Next we tested the drive whose files had been deleted, then "quick" formatted using Windows' built-in tools. An initial "SmartScan" revealed no files at all. However when we ran the "StrongScan", the utility was able to recover 21 of the 25 files. The images, XML and MP3 files made it intact but there was no sign of the 2 FLAC audio files, the torrent file or the .sqlite file. 

Individual and groups of files can be selected for recovery from the results. These are listed along with file path, quality, file format, and date information. Other filter options are available, although there is no search tool. Recovery involves simply clicking the Recover this File button and selecting a destination.

Along with recovery, data can be terminated, deleting it fully from the disk. 

Overall, recovery is satisfactory, but the lack of options (beyond focusing on specific filetypes) is a shortcoming, as is the undetected "corrupted" drive. 

Iolo Search and Recover review

Iolo provides numerous support options (Image credit: Iolo)

Iolo Search and Recover: Support

Using new software can often lead to confusion. In the case of IOLO Search And Recover 4, publishers IOLO provide a complete, modern online support system.

The IOLO support page starts off with a search box for inputting questions (avoid single words). You'll also find direct telephone numbers for customer service and technical support. One number is free, the other for customers who have paid for a support package. 

The number itself is tool-free to call from US and Canada. Still, you'll need to pay for a support package if you want IOLO to help you. Prices start from $99 (£80) for one-time troubleshooting support on a single computer or mobile device. You can also pay $240 (£193) for a year of unlimited 24/7 tech support on up to 3 devices. There are monthly plans for those who can't afford this in one go. 

For further software instruction, IOLO provides a knowledge base. 

There's some information here on System Mechanice but nothing that concerns IOLO Search And Recover itself, which is somewhat disappointing. The IOLO support page also has a live chat support box for you to raise any issues you may have with their technical personnel.

Iolo Search and Recover: Final verdict

Is IOLO Search And Recover the recovery tool for you? It is, overall, a decidedly average piece of software. The hidden evaluation version aside, it is affordable and comes with a 30-day money-back offer.  That at least means if you do buy the software and it can't recover your data e.g. because it can't see a damaged drive or partition, you'll get your money back. 

If you need the extra features it may also make sense to buy this as part of the package offered by the System Mechanic Suite. 

The user interface for both apps looks a little dated, reminding us of the heady days of Windows 7. Still, it's well laid out and there are helpful information boxes next to unfamiliar terms like "StrongScan" to help explain features.

When you launch the tool, you'll also spot a nag box at the bottom advising you how much is left on the current license. This even happened when we first installed it, kindly informing us there were 366 days left. 

While scan and recovery is fast, IOLO Search And Recover couldn't even detect our unmountable virtual drive, accessible to many competitor apps. This is disappointing when the software makes specific claims about being able to do just that. 

Overall, whether taken as a standalone or as part of the System Mechanic suite, Iolo Search and Recover seems to lack the fine tuning of some of its competitors. This is a good thing in that it's very simple to launch and use but a lack of fine tuning makes data recovery difficult. We also expected more in terms of seeing and restoring "lost" partitions, as IOLO's competitors can do. Still, the money back guarantee means you've very little to lose by purchasing a license and attempting to recover files with IOLO Search and Recovery, as you can always claim a refund if you have no joy. 

We've listed the best data recovery software.