When you reload any version of the Windows operating system, the process reformats your computer’s hard disk drive. Reformatting any type of digital storage deletes all previously stored files from that media. This is true whether you are reloading Windows onto a brand new desktop or laptop computer or if you’re simply reformatting a USB flash drive because a prompt from Windows suggested you need to do so. An important point to remember is that before you reload Windows or reformat any digital storage you must always access the files on that drive or other media and copy from it all of your stored files.
It is always easier to recover deleted files in Windows XP or Vista based computers before you reformat the hard drive. Should you fail to do this you will need to download and purchase a program to recover lost files after reinstalling Windows XP or whatever version of Windows your computer is using. The key to choosing a quality program for file recovery on PCs using Windows XP, Vista or even the new Windows 7 is to make sure that that program supports recovery of files stored using NTFS. This is the latest hard disk directory access and storage technology used by Microsoft.