When first launched, Recuva starts in wizard mode, which prompts you with basic questions about what you're trying to restore -- a specific type of file, a specific drive, or even a specific type of drive -- and then gets to work. It took about 10 minutes to scan my 8GB card and I was able to run the scan unobtrusively in the background.
After the scan, Recuva presents you with a very detailed breakdown of what files were found. Click on any file and you'll be given detailed information about it -- how healthy the file was (i.e., whether or not it was partly overwritten), a hex dump of its header information, and even a preview for certain supported file types such as JPGs. Files to be recovered can also be browsed as thumbnails, which is handy if you're looking for one image among many. Note that file names are generally not recovered; the resulting files are given arbitrary names and have to be renamed manually.
Advanced options allow you to recover files that haven't been deleted -- e.g., from damaged drives -- or to try to restore the original folder structure of the source media. Recuva can also securely erase files found during a recovery operation, a handy way to make sure a given file has been properly destroyed if you're concerned about security.
All the test files I looked for were recovered, although Recuva interpreted my CR2 files as TIF images. It still recovered them properly, though, and they were fine once renamed.
The wizard-guided interface for Recuva makes the recovery process a snap. The quality of the program's file recovery and the price (free) make it a solid choice for the average Windows user.
Price: $39 (Basic); $49 (Media); $99 (Pro). Free trial available (only previews files)
OS: Windows 98 and later. Versions available for Mac OS X.
A close cousin to Recover My Files in terms of functionality, Remo Recover comes in three versions for Windows, depending on how much of a recovery you need to perform. The Basic Edition ($39) does simple file recovery, the Media Edition ($49) can recover RAW format photos, and the Pro Edition ($99) recovers files from lost partitions or reformatted drives. All the versions are contained in the same download and simply require different unlock codes, so I tried all three.
(Mac users can also find the same breakdown of editions and usability for slightly different prices: $59 for the Basic Edition, $69 for the Media Edition and $179 for the Pro Edition.)