File recovery programs come in many different flavours. They run the gamut from simple undelete programs that work only under optimal circumstances within Windows up to heavy-duty sector-by-sector scanners that can piece back together files sans file table or partition info.

After reading the advertising, we assumed that freebie PC Inspector File Recovery fell into the latter category.

Alas, PC Inspector File Recovery was clueless when it came to a relatively simple test: recovering data from an NTFS drive that still contained data, but whose partition and file tables had been overwritten.

EasyRecovery Professional, Active @ File Recovery, and R-Studio Data Recovery were all able to pull files off of the same test drive. Of course, those programs aren't free, and PC Inspector File Recovery is.

If your drive used the FAT 32 file system, you might fare a bit better with PC Inspector File Recovery. We were able to recover files whose FAT info was lost as long as the partition info was available. The program also recovered deleted files (that hadn't been overwritten) just fine.

OUR VERDICT

For free it's hard to complain, but PC Inspector is not a panacea for file recovery that the website might lead you to believe. Still, we'd give it a shot; if it works you just saved $40 or so.