and why you need to try data recovery
I'd strongly contest the notion that questions why someone would need
These days (even in the home user enviroment), in the climate of bedroom malware/family households using computers, i'd suggest it should be considered as paramount a feature to good computing for home users (as it has been for business users for years), as AV software.
A good, established back up routine is worth its weight in gold.
To the OP, you do generally get what you pay for re data recovery software. * On the lowish end you have Macrium, on the mainstream end (beyond freeware) you have products like Acronis True Image, and at the higher end, products like Storagecraft Shadowprotect. Last time I saw benchmarks, Shadowprotect was the fastest, never can find that link though, but the right way as you've already seen, is to fully trial a product to ensure it works flawlessly on your machine[s].
Other types of software, such as Deepfreeze, exist. Used more in schools they do things a different way.
Another option you have is building a RAID array on/with your hard disks; the most common and simple way is RAID1 afaik. Essentially two hard disks with the exact same data on; whilst not strictly back in the sense you can restore things, a form of back up nonetheless.
Most trial products are limited [obviously so] and in some cases full evaluation can only be trialled after you contact the manufacturer asking for additional files to be able to fully evaluate. Storagecraft use this method.
* these are opinion, there are of course other products, and some manufacturers even license the same technology from other manufacturers. Storagecraft actually employ a couple of guys who invented the technology in the first place for example.
Consensus on the interweb about the Back up included in Windows 7, is generally unfavourable.
If your current situation is beyond help, in the sense data is unretreivable, there are companies out there who specialise in that kind of work, but regardless, i would urge anyone to consider how important their data is to them, photos, documents, etc etc, and then impliment a solid back up regime as soon as possible thereafter.
Edited by RiffRaff (Sat 30-Jun-12 22:59:50)