So here's my issue:
On my laptop I have 2 hard drive bays. One day I decided to run a liveUSB ubuntu, and set up a dual boot windows 7-linux, linux being on the secondary. So I run the stick and hit "install" on what I thought was my secondary. The only problem is, I didn't realize that I had my 320gb WD external plugged in, and was installing linux on my that instead of the intended drive. In a moment of panic I think I had held down the power button on my laptop, (I know, stupid move...I was in panic mode! ) with it only being about 10 seconds in the process of formatting.
So now I have a what used to be a NTFS partitioned external with ALL of my photos, school work etc. but what is now a broken ext3 partitioned drive. I tried using R-Studio for a hard drive recovery (the program supports both ext3 and NTFS) and can see the directories but not the files. When I try to recover, all I'm getting is random named files that are all encrypted data.
I guess my question is, is there hope whatsoever for my drive? Or did I screw it up to the point of no return?
Aaaah, those lovely moments of panic where everything is ok. I love those ones. Unfortunately, I think that your panic was fully warranted and that everything on that drive is now partially formatted in the wrong format and complete garbage. I could be wrong. If I was you and there is some valuable data on that external drive, I would burn a GParted live CD (free): http://gparted.sourceforge.net/livecd.php
and see if that version of Linux is able to read data in whatever format it chooses. It's a great way to run linux from your CD tray. Another possible route is to download (again free) Data Recovery Doctor: http://www.freedownloadscenter.com/Utilities/Disk_Maint...
and see what its tools can do for you. Good luck.