Recover deleted photos/files from a hard drive that has gone through a reformat reinstall

Took a notebook with windows xp professional into have the wireless card fixed and the vendor totally wiped out the hard drive and restored to original configuration.  Needless to say all files were wiped out.  I see there is another question from 2004 on how to restore the files, but I want to get up to date information.  Would prefer this to be free software that is easy to use as this is a college student who has no money and is not tech savvy.  Any help would be appreciated.
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This is probably the best thing you'll find:

I have used it many times in your exact situation, and it works like a charm.

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I don't know good _free_ solution for you. File-saver is not free.
Iolo Search and recover might help:
It's also not free, but it has 30-day free trial (so you may try if it fits your needs).

If the drive was reformatted, and it sounds as though it may have been, be careful not to waste your money on an undelete solution because chances are that it will not work.  Most are good when it comes to 'undeleting' but a reformatted drive is, usually, unrecoverable.

The 'professional' who totally wiped out your hard drive and reinstalled the original configuration, even if that was necessary (which sounds highly unlikely), should have preserved your files and restored them.  If he/she/they did not do so, or ensure that you had adequate backup before wiping your drive, you should seriously consider taking legal action against them.  Phony's like that should be put out of business.
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The best I could suggest your is 

I have used this software many time and found it recovers more effectively than many other softwares. I have been using licensed version, you could go for their demo version which would help you to recover. Please try and updates us the status.
Never trust your data to a vendor, unless you stand over them and tell them what NOT to do.  Think your data is almost certainly gone.  But try www.runtime.ord -- getdataback, this is great program, it will tell you if anything can be restored, and you only pay modest fee IF it can recover your data.
Get it done Now,

Data Recovery

HandyRecovery ( is the  Top performance Software which 100% Freeware and you never need to register and there is no Limitation. I tested it the results are really very Good.
Some Programs described by war1 are sharewares and don't work fully. You need to register and pay for their Full use.

Some other Programs are :-

#R-Studio – If partitions are formatted, damaged or deleted.

# PC Inspector. PC data recovery program, supports FAT16/32 and NTFS. Free as a bird.

# Restoration. Restores deleted files from Zip, Media cards, CF cards etc.

# FreeUndelete. Data recovery for deleted NTFS files.

# Smart Recovery 4.5. Another media card file recovery proggie. Aimed at digicams.

# R-Linux. File recovery for Linux Ext2FS file system. Free as in penguin.

# Disk Investigator. Down and dirty – raw drive sector dirty – file recovery. Geeks only?

# Digital Image Recovery. You folks losing a lot of photos are you? Another free image tool.

# Unstoppable Copier. Recovers data from damaged discs like CDs with scratches etc.
if you simply format a drive, you can easily recover your data.
If you DID a  new install, chances are your data is overwritten. you can be able to recover the part that is not overwritten, and be lucky to find what you want. So here my suggestion : download the trial version of any recovery soft you want to try ; check what it claims to be able to recover, and choose the one that best suits you. - Then, pay for the full version. - But, as said i reckon your chances are Very Low.
Here a list of recovery soft :,collid,1295,00.asp            Free Recovery                              Spinrite                                    GetDataBack                                    Stellar                                    Restorer 2000                        Restoration                  Active undelete                  pc Inspector                        Handy Recovery                  flash recovery                                    ontrack                  Easy Recovery                                    Test Disk + utils                        zero assumption                        Recover Lost Data                              RecoverMyFiles            Disk Commander                  EasyRecovery                        VirtualLab Data Recover
I have allwasy found that Recovery Proffessional works good in my case
If you want to maximize chances of data recovery, don't use your laptop until you've found a solution! Data is permanently overwritten very easily (at least, without using Scanning Tunneling Microscopy anyways) and it's bad enough as it is, restoring a factory default drive image or whatever happened.

I've previously used Easy Recovery and GetDataBack, but they're not free tools. Recovering data from a laptop computer can be more difficult than from a desktop computer, because recovering data to the same drive as the data resides on is not very wise for the above reason. You'll need an extra hard drive.

An other alternative: hand your laptop over to the FBI and tell them there's probably kiddy pr-n on there. The feds will recover your data for you.

No - seriously. If your data is of any value to you, get some expertise, because free software is not the only thing you'll need. Not the boneheads who repaired your wireless (and broke everything else)!
Sam PanwarSr. Server AdministratorCommented:

sunil computer nice solution.
manch03Author Commented:
It was comp usa that wiped her data. They sent it to Toshiba to fix the wireless card and they did not warn her that her data could possibly be wiped out nor did they tell her to back up her files.   The wireless card still does not work.
"The wireless card still does not work." !~~nice

likely the workticket absolved them from liability for erasing your files.
Send it to a forensics specialist, I do it but can't advertise here, lol, and would not want to.
Hi there,

Most of the experts have provided the answer above.

Anyways, personally I have used GetDataBack and it is really a very good piece of software you may try as it is the only chance to try to recover from a formatted drive.

In order to recover the data from the inotebook Harddisk, you need to get GetDataBack software purchase and installed on ANOTHER notebook or PC before you can do recovery. You also require to have a USB 2.5 casing to house the notebook internal harddisk. You can refer to the Notebook Manual or site on how to remove the internal harddisk from your notebook. Once everything fixed you may hook to the machine where the GetDataBack is installed. Run the software and follow the wizard and select the external harddisk. It can scan partition or the entire drive. It will take a while to scan and when everything is out you can go through all the result and try to recover all possible recoverable files/folders to another drive or network drive.
NOTE: Never install GetDataBack in the notebook harddisk that need data recovery.

As displayed in their site
GetDataBack will recover your data if the hard drive's partition table, boot record, FAT/MTF or root directory are lost or damaged, data was lost due to a virus attack, the drive was formatted, fdisk has been run, a power failure has caused a system crash, files were lost due to a software failure, files were accidentally deleted...

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