Recover Data after Reinstalling Windows

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Thread Starter
Apr 22, 2008
My computer crashed at one point, and it wouldn't let me log back in. Someone decided to just reinstall Windows XP onto my computer, erasing all of my documents and pictures. I've been reading some of the posts on this thread, and based on those posts, I'm pretty sure the HDD has been reformatted. My computer is off right now to prevent anything from overwriting my C drive.

Does anyone have a cost efficient solution to this issue? I called Best Buy, and someone said that depending on the "level" of recovery, it could cost me from $250 - $1699 to get my data restored. And the sales person said that if I opted to try to get my information recovered with a lesser known company, they could potentially only recover thumbnails of my photos, not the full size.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Jan 30, 2007
All i can tell you is most likely since windows was reinstalled and the drive formatted the data is gone for good.If by some chance a recovery company could do it yes it can be very very expensive.Thats why we always say save your documents, pix, music, to cds/dvds so if the computer crashes you have a copy.


Malware Specialist
Jul 9, 2008
Unfortunately, the representative at Best Buy was correct.

This type of data recovery is possible, but it can get very expensive.

That's why the message with computers is always to backup your important files.


Retired Trusted Advisor
Jan 29, 2006
There is a a well documented free & legit alternative you could try explained here using an Ubuntu 'live CD' (not an install!):

The preamble says: "There are lots of utilities to recover deleted files, but what if you can’t boot up your computer, or the whole drive has been formatted? We’ll show you some tools that will dig deep and recover the most elusive deleted files, or even whole hard drive partitions ....... Note: These tools cannot recover data that has been overwritten on a hard disk. Whether a deleted file has been overwritten depends on many factors – the quicker you realize that you want to recover a file, the more likely you will be able to do so."

The version and appearance of Ubuntu has changed, but the method is the same.
Hope this helps?
Aug 1, 2003
Formatting does not erase any of your files, so those that have not been overwritten may still be on the drive. Try scanning with some recovery utilities. But it is best not to use the version of Windows that you are trying to recover from since every second Windows is running from that drive, more data gets overwritten.

If the drive was Vista or 7 before, avoid connecting it to an XP machine. As soon as XP mounts the drive, it will revert the version of NTFS to an older version that does not support shadow copies. Shadow copies of all your files may still exist on the drive, and if the original is gone or damaged, they give you another way to recover the lost files. So connect the drive to another Vista or 7 machine to recover data.

Free recovery applications:

Paragon Rescue Disk Free Edition (Undelete partitions, boot corrector, file recovery)
Dr. Freeware Boot CD (also has partition tool, drive cloner and imager)
DiskDigger & NTFSWalker
Pandora Recovery (Free for personal use)
Smart Data Recovery
Recover Files
Roadkil's Undelete
Free Undelete (NTFS only)
Softperfect File Recovery
ADRC Data Recovery Tools
Undelete Plus
Data Recovery
PCI File Recovery
Ultimate Data Recovery
Disk Investigator


O&O Disk Recovery
Paragon Mount Everything (Mounts any file system, CD/DVD burning, File Manager, Partitioner)
GetDataBack (For FAT or NTFS)
Ontrack EasyRecovery Pro
File Scavenger
Recover My Files
RecoverPlus Pro
Zero Assumption Recovery
[email protected] File Recovery
Final Recovery
Recover4All Professional
Easeus Data Recovery Wizard
NTFS Recovery


If overwritten, recovery companies cannot recover your data, either, despite what you see on CSI (a fictional television scenario).


Thread Starter
Apr 22, 2008
Thanks all for your comments. Since I haven't turned on my computer to avoid overwriting anything, I do not know if the person also formatted the HDD. I'll test some of these things out later this week and report back.
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