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File recovery, emergency

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Hello there. I certainly hope this hasn't been discussed before, but between my search and the specifics that affect the situation, I think this deserves its own topic.

A...personal situation made two people I know, get mad at each other, and one of them, in retaliation, tried to delete the other's files. Most stuff ended in the bin, but the most important file, a TXT, was actually overwritten. That is, opened, its contents erased, then saved that way.

Do you think there's a way to recover that file's contents? It's REALLY important. The file's not only unreplaceable, it contains tons of personally and professionally significant info. I know, such things shouldn't be left hanging around so vulnerable, but none of these people are beyond the "typical user" level.

FYI, it's a NTFS-formatted HDD on XP SP2. Western Digital, WDC WD800BB-08JHC0. 99% positive it's an IDE.

Here's what I've done so far.

1) Instructed this person to keep the computer's data from changing as little as possible. No new files, no installs, no downloads, nothing that generates lots of temporary files (such as internet browsing). I know data is written into the HDD all the time anyways, but I figured, the less usage, the more chances anything can be recovered before it's finally lost...if it's not so already.
I know that deleted files actually just lose their name and place, so to speak, and their data actually remains physically within the HDD until the room it occupies, now being marked as available, is rewritten with something else. So, I'm reasoning upon that. I don't know if this would apply in such a case, but things can be pretty "random" when it comes to the whole delete/recover deal. I'm putting my hopes on that.

2) Installed and ran VirtualLab Recovery 5.5 (got it from download.com). Used it exhaustively, and got no useful results. No older versions of the same file, as it has happened to me before (which made me believe it could happen in this case)...

Do you people think one of those expensive recovery services could stand a chance? I've successfully used them before, but never for this kind of issue.

Any ideas, tips? I know it sounds like a lost case truly, but we're talking my sister's journal slash songbook and whatnot. Surely you can understand that I wanna try anything and everything. Just that, right now, this is surpassing my level of expertise frankly.

Thank you all for your time and help. Bye.
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Well, I was going to suggest that there would be a chance that you can recover the file by using a 3rd-party utility like "Data Rescue" or "FileSalvage" or "Virtual Lab". However you “ran VirtualLab Recovery 5.5, Used it exhaustively, and got no useful results” so that leaves me with one thing left you can do. If the file is of critical importance to you (such that you would be willing to spend a minimum of several hundred dollars to recover it) you could take the drive to a professional / forensics data recovery service. Simply do a search on Google you can fine several different services. Also as always the longer you wait, and the more new files you create (logs are constantly being written to), the less likely you will be to recover that file.

Maybe someone else will come along with some advice that can help, but I think it’s a going to be a loss on this one.
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