When you format a drive it deletes all existing files on that drive. They can be recovered (or most of them can) as long as you don't write anything else to that drive or re-install Windows on it. If you've already re-installed Windows some of the files may have been destroyed, but you can try recovery software: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/filerecovery/tp/free-file...
In future you should keep all your documents & pictures backed up on a different drive, and remember that formatting a drive destroys files.
also depends on what kind of drive, if it's a removable media, the files are gone forever. even if it's not removable media, the files are most likely lost forever since a lot of formatting algorithms zero out the data
Hi- I reformatting my drive, but now I an't find any of my Word documents or the documents folder. Can I get the documents back? Where do I look?
Whether you can get your documents back depends. First off did you do a Quick format or a Full format. A Quick format just changes a few things on the disk so the operating system thinks it's empty but your data is still there. A Full format writes zeros to every part of the disk. There are lots of programs that will recover most or all of the data from a Quick format. Ask around for recommendations. There are supposedly some programs that will even let you recover some information from a Full format.
One thing I can tell you is DON'T write to the disk you formatted. That will make it much harder or even impossible to recover your data. Disconnect either the power or data cable from the hard drive you formatted so you don't do this. Besides the possibility of forgetting and writing to it by accident, Windows sometimes likes to write various little housekeeping files to hard drives which as I said above will cause problems.
Another thing to consider is what kind and how much data can be recovered. Some of the data may be completely unrecoverable. Some may be corrupted. Set your expectations accordingly. And finally if the data you want to recover is REALLY important like the records you need to keep your business running you will have to bite the bullet and send your disk off to a hardware disk recovery service. Those places cost in the thousands of dollars.
As you format your drive, the files on this drive are not erased immediately..
Zengal is mostly correct. A full format in vista or higher will write zeros to all sectors making it harder if not impossible to recover. A full format in XP doesn't write zeros, it just makes sure it can read every sector properly.