With that $30 price tag in my mind's eye, I went into my PC Tools File Recover hands-on thinking that it would be just another over-priced undelete utility. Ten minutes in, I was thinking "By Grabthar's hammer... what a savings!" Most recovery programs that will scan on the sector level, such as Active @ File Recovery and R-studio Data Recovery, will set you back more money.
PC Tools File Recover is easy to use, and it works. It recovered all of the deleted files I threw at it by bulk search, or by specific file name/file type. The program did crash once while attempting to recover a large MPG file, but I was unable to replicate the incident.
File Recover also easily recognized a USB-attached hard drive from a RAID 0/1 array that had been overwritten with two Mac OS partitions--and it found a number of files there. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the files were false positives that restored as zero length entries. To be fair, no program that I'm aware of would do any better, though some will bypass false positives.
My only real problem with PC Tools File Recover came during the recovery stage. There's a button to select all and a button to deselect all, as well as selection by folder and type, however beyond that you're stuck selecting or deselecting files one at a time. You can't hold down the shift or control key and select/deselect groups or batches. Selecting files one at a time could get annoying when you have a lot of them in single directory. Also, although you may pause a scan, there's no way to save it so that you can continue or take action on a scan after closing the program.
PC Tools File Recover looks to be a bargain in my book. As is typical for this sort of program, the demo will find files but not restore them.