There are numerous sets of utilities for restoring deleted files and fixing hard disk problems, so O&O's RescueBox needs to be special to stand out from the crowd. However, while it works well from a technical point of view, we found it quite irritating in other ways.

The main programs included are UnErase, FormatRecovery and DiskRecovery. There are also two CD-ROMs - the first is a bootable disk in case you can't boot your PC for any reason, the second enables you to install the programs onto your hard disk or launch them quickly straight from the CD.

Unfortunately, we weren't impressed by the installation program. It lists various trial versions of additional programs, without separating them from the full versions. Three separate serial numbers must be entered during installation, which is just irritating.

All three programs concentrate on recovering damaged or accidentally deleted fi les, so there's a fair amount of overlap between them. Your first port of call will normally be UnErase, but we found this problem didn't always work as well as we hoped.

Sometimes it would locate lost files and put them in the location we selected, but we were unable to open those fi les and continue to work with them. So we moved on to FormatRecovery, which did manage to recover our files so that we were able to open them.

DiskRecovery is used in more extreme cases when you may have completely reformatted a disk. However, it's a lot more complicated than the other two programs in the suite, and we were shocked to see a message flash on screen telling us that this 'Personal Edition' would only recover 100 files at a time unless we paid for an upgrade.

That's a pretty disgraceful thing to do to anyone trying to recover important lost data, and it's therefore hard to recommend RescueBox - especially as rivals such as Symantec and Iolo provide more comprehensive features at a similar price.