Quick review of four free-to-use MiniTool software.
(ShadowMaker, Data Recovery, uTube Downloader, and Video Converter)
Review first written in April 2021.
A while ago, I was invited to review MiniTool MovieMaker. In general, I found this free-to-use video editor a convenient, lightweight solution great for blogging and social media needs.
Since then, I’ve received invitations to review other MiniTool free software. Rather than do long write-ups for each one, I decided to create the following quick review “checklist” for four of them.
In short, these software are handy and easy-to-use. Especially suitable for bloggers, social media influencers, business executives, etc, who do not wish to fuss with more complicated programmes like the Adobe Creative Suite.
With the exception of uTube downloader, there are also pro and business options for users in need of more advanced options. This is a good move on MiniTool’s part to cater to wider audiences.
This backup tool, available with Free, Pro, Business, and Bootable options, interested me most. Since I started writing online, I’ve been hunting for easier-to-use solutions for my data backup needs; the current programmes I’m using are simply too burdensome. The summary of it, I found MiniTool Shadowmaker to be:
- Easy and fast to install.
- One-click process to backup. Just click the second button on the top horizontal menu. Then choose the source folder and destination.
- Information is clearly displayed during the selection processes. Including the degree of compression, i.e., size reduction.
- It’s reasonably fast! With file compression rate thereabout 25 percent too.
- Similarly, it’s easy and fast to restore from backup files. (And with no mishaps, as far as I can see)
- A variety of other functions are included in the free version. Including disc cloning.
- More advanced functions such as SSL encryption, universal restore, and command-line interfacing are available only with Pro and Business subscriptions. To be honest, though, if you’re working alone, most of such functions wouldn’t really be necessary.
- There doesn’t seem to be an option to control the degree of compression.
MiniTool Data Recovery
This interested me most.
Three years ago, one of my most important HDDs crashed without warning. Since then, and despite me spending hundreds of dollars on various recovery software, I’ve never managed to recover more than 60 percent of my data.
What’s worse, what’s recovered was always a mess. For example, videos broken into various bits. Images in a multitude of small sizes, etc.
Running the same (damaged) drive using the free version of MiniTool Data Recovery, I’d say:
- Easy to download and install. No registration is required for use too.
- Intuitive interface that’s as simple as it gets. You just choose which drive to recover from.
- Reasonably fast. Compared to other recovery software such as those by Recuva, the scanning process for the same drive takes about the same time. (But it still takes hours, in case you’re wondering)
- Stable. As inane as it is of me to say , one of my previous “recoverer” always hangs at 90 percent scan time. Imagine how frustrating that is after three hours of waiting.
- This one is a major strength for me. While individual scan results aren’t always completely recoverable or reliable, the overall results do not contain tens of duplicates of the same file. I encountered this issue with two other recovery software three years ago.
- What can be recovered, ultimately, is mostly in good condition.
- Version 10, released in mid-2021, features a new, more user-friendly interface. Data recovery from FAT32 partitions is also enhanced.
- Version 11, released in 2022, enhances filtering and display functions, and improves data structure of type for scan results.
- No quick scan. Now, my experience with quick scans in data recovery software has mostly been disappointing, so I don’t know how important quick scans are. But I suppose it would still be great to know within minutes what can be salvaged.
- The preview function requires an additional download and mostly does not work for videos. To begin with, there’s a 100MB size limitation.
It’s Not Completely Free
Here’s the thing. Unlike the other software in this article, MiniTool Data Recovery is not completely free.
You can download and install it, and scan your drive, without payment. But to actually recover files, a subscription is necessary. With the cheapest one costing USD 65/-.
This places the tool in the ranks of similar software by other publishers. On the bright side, the free i.e. trial version gives you a pretty comprehensive look at what you can accomplish/recover. You can do a full scan, look at what’s found, then decide whether to pay.
MiniTool uTube Downloader
To be quite honest, I am wary of software that allows you to download YouTube videos. I really loathe to imagine people downloading videos from my channel and passing them off as their own.
But, the reality is that sometimes we have legitimate reasons to capture YouTube videos. For example, if I ever lose my original files.
Besides … I myself have been using a variety of ways to record performances of fellow (Electone) musicians for personal learning. A tool that enables me to quickly capture any YouTube video or audio, with conversion capabilities, would thus ultimately be beneficial.
- Again, easy and fast to download and install.
- It’s “integrated” with YouTube, so to speak. You don’t need to switch screens or activate plugins, etc, in your browser. Everything is done within the downloader.
- To download, you just need to click the arrow button at the top-right of the interface. There are also options to choose video/audio format.
- The download process is lightning fast. Presumably, if you have a decent Internet connection.
- MiniTool uTube Downloader comes with video conversion and screen recording functions too.
- Downloads do not go beyond FHD size, regardless of the actual video. Bluntly put, though, I think this is a good move to guard against what I mentioned above.
MiniTool Video Converter
One feature of this free video converter interested me most.
- Converting VOB files to MP4 formats, VOB being the native format of DVDs. Not that I intend to share copyrighted movies, NO, but I love an easy way to make backups of my favorite DVDs. (Some of which cost me a bomb to buy back then)
After testing, I found MiniTool’s solution for such purposes to be:
- Allow me to say this one more time. Like the above programmes, this video converter is easy to download and install. Like all, there is no need to register an account, wait for verifications, etc, too.
- There is an extensive list of video and audio formats for you to choose from. With a convenient search function as well. There’s even a whole list of phone models, with optimum video sizes, for you to pick from.
- Batch conversion is possible.
- There is a screen recording function incorporated into the programme.
- After being spoilt rotten by the blazing speed of ShadowMaker and uTube Downloader, I found the conversion speed here rather slow. To be clear, it’s not unbearable, but I thought it would be much faster. On this, I should highlight that it typically takes me thereabout the same time to do a similar conversion in, say, Adobe Premiere Pro. But it would require significantly more steps.
- There is a noticeable drop in audio quality when I downsized/converted one of my own videos. After checking, I didn’t find any option that enables me to preserve audio quality.
Read my other software reviews