You mean besides the perfectly good suggestion for the Linux Live CD, which I've used to recover files from partitions exhibiting exactly the same symptoms as you've nominated above?
Are you F@#$%g serious?
I guess your files aren't that important to you if you've already decided to format the partition, before attempting the REALLY simple linux methods already suggested by multiple people.
It's a LiveCD ... it boots off the CD, and makes no changes to your PC, unless you ask it to.
Get the 9.04, 9.10 or 10.04 live CD's .. the 10.10 liveCD's & above are ... confusing.
Once ubuntu (live) has booted & it's got the GUI up:
If the partition hasn't been mounted already ...
- start a terminal,
- type in: sudo gparted
- In the gparted interface,
- Click on the partititon you want, and select mount.
If it doesn't mount because of some sort of errors, you can force mounting in the terminal by typing:
"sudo mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sda3 /media/mymounteddrive -o force" where "sda3" is replaced with the partition number (as shown in Gparted).
Once your done that, you can use the linux browser to navigate to /media/mymounteddrive and then copy and paste to somewhere else (portable HDD/etc).
If linux can't force mount the parttition, you'll have to run the check disk function in Gparted.
At this point, windows has completely and utterly failed to recover your files, and it's obviously unmountable, so a linux disk check is the last thing you can do to easily get your files back .... before requiring TestDisk/ photorec ... both of which are part of the ubuntu live boot disk anyway.
I've run testdisk on someones ancient 120GB HDD after they accidentally "recovery disked" their crappy compaq PC, and it recovered 120GB of files ... including multiples of the same files (after being moved from defragging), multiple partial files of the same files, thumbnails of photo's, intermixed with photo's, partially written word documents.
Testdisk & photorec are fantastic at what they do, but you end up with a mess of files that needs a full-time job for sorting & file culling.
Try the linux mounting options first .. before the testdisk recovery.