Data recovery after reinstalling Windows yields better results than it can be expected. During the reinstall, the drive is formatted and the new copy of Windows is installed.

If the format was "Complete" and it was Windows Vista/7 that was installing then nothing can be recovered. During the format, Windows Vista and Windows 7 overwrite the drive content with zeros.

If you use the "Quick" format, then Windows will be installed on the clean drive, in the same way as it was installed the first time. Since a computer always produces the same result for the same task, the new copy will be written over the previous copy (except for possible different selection of the components to be installed). Thus the previous Windows files will be overwritten, but not the user files which were written later. Certainly some files will be lost (e.g. data saved in a registry like settings and passwords), but the documents have a good chance to survive a reinstallation.

This approach doesn't work if you are going to install a newer Windows version because new versions have larger size.

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