Most free recovery software is either:
- Limited version of full edition (only able to see what can be recovered, maybe recover up to a certain file size)
- Inefficient, weak, and wholly inferior to paid software.
Easeus makes good freeware, and has a freeware that can recover up to 1GB of files: http://www.easeus.com/datarecoverywi...y-software.htm
The full version is $70 and can recover more than 1GB.
Recuva is more of an "undelete" tool, and not a drive recovery program: http://www.piriform.com/recuva
It's free, and comes from the makers of CCleaner.
Quite a few people have found using an Ubuntu Linux boot disc as helpful, too. Ubuntu is often able to mount discs that other operating systems gave up on, including Windows XP and Windows Vista, as well as Mac OS X. I've used an Ubuntu boot disc before, to fix the NTFS equivalent of a "FAT table" on an external USB2 drive (drive removed).
Many times, it's necessary to remove the drive from the enclosure -- it's often impossible to recover over USB.
The best paid recover software is from Kroll OnTrack: http://www.krollontrack.com/resource...ree-downloads/
The trial version lets you recover one file for free.
And if you ever have a drive that's physically damaged, these are the people you need/want to send your drive too!