When last I visited Easeus Partition Master Home Edition, it was version 4.0.1 and a very capable program for a freebie. I mean, who gives away partition managing software? As of the latest version, 5.1, the program has acquired the ability to recover files from deleted or failed partitions. More slowly than the pay versions according to the vendor's Web site, sure, but the fact that a free program will do it at all verges on amazing.
Easeus PMHE will also create, format, delete, resize, move, merge, split, convert, and wipe partitions, as well as hide, unhide, and make them active or inactive. I don't know about you, but that covers just about everything I do. What's missing compared to the $40 pay version is support for server and 64-bit operating systems, tech support, and the ability to create a boot CD.
The program is easy to use, and has by and large worked well for me over the last couple of years, as well as perfectly in my new tests. A lack of bad hard drives limited me to simply deleting a partition (and deleting, then creating a new one before recovery) then recovering files, so I can't completely vouch for the effectiveness of the recovery when more severe problems occur. However, I will say that Easeus Partition Master Home Edition recovered my small test set of files pretty darn quick for a program that's supposedly throttled compared to the pay version.
When the basic Windows functions won't cut it, download Easeus Partition Manager Home Edition and save yourself the forty bucks or so you'd spend on a paid program. EPMHE is an excellent tool for an older home PC. Better yet, download it now and keep it around for the next time a partition goes belly up.