About two years ago, a friend of mine accidentally reformatted a hard drive. He had over 5 gigs of music files from dozens of CDs that he'd collected over the years. He was sad, and I had no advice to give him.
If I could travel back in time, I could at least have offered some hope for him. It's possible to recover entire file systems that have been reformatted. I recently read about a recovery utility called TestDisk on the Windows Secrets Newsletter (paid version). Fred Langa, formerly the author of the LangaList passed on a tip from one of his readers that told how he saved over $400 in repair costs by using TestDisk.
I found out that I've had a copy of TestDisk for a long time and never knew it. It's included as a tool on several Live CDs including one or my favorites called GParted. A fellow named Herman has written a great How-To page on using TestDisk.
Herman's TestDisk HowTo
I haven't used this program yet and I hope I never have to. I wrote about TestDisk in the hope that it may stick in your mind if you ever have to recover a reformatted hard drive.
Quote from the authors:
TestDisk is a powerful free data recovery software! It was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting a Partition Table). Partition table recovery using TestDisk is really easy.