It is often the case that hard drive troubleshooting, analysis and recovery software will outstrip the cost of the hardware it runs on. Traditional data recovery tools such as Winhex fall into this category, but newcomers in the data recovery area, are similarly priced. Open source software is free but does require a significant amount of testing and verification to ensure the results obtained using it can be replicated with other tools. Plus, an added disadvantage is that is has no vendor support.
Much debate surrounds open source versus commercial offerings in many area, and data recovery is no different. The main difference is that in hard drive recovery, regardless of whether it is commercial or open source software, the software must be tested to make sure it performs as specified. There have several cases where both commercially supported and open source software have failed to do so, calling into question data that has been obtained using them. The argument here is not about support but one of stability and admissibility. The old adage “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” should be translated here as “if it works and is validated, do not patch it!”.
Whether you use commercial or open source or there are certain function-specific pieces of software needed, the cost of the software and the tie for support and maintenance of the same should be factored into your budget.