Let me give you some background on this issue.
I started off trying to install a PC game on my computer, and it was recommended that I install it in a location outside of C:/Program Files, as Vista was having administrative access errors and would prevent the game from patching automatically. So, I chose to install it in Documents, as I have a few other games installed in Documents for various reasons. Well, in typing the file path, I typed the following:
C:\Users\the buddy's games\Documents
I forgot to also add the game name's folder to the end to give all the files that would be installed their own folder. Therefore, I checked my Documents folder when I started to try to patch the game, and all the game's files were just sitting individually in Documents and not their own folder. So, rather than gather up all the files and make a folder for them manually, I figured, forget it, I'll just uninstall it and reinstall it one more time, it's a quick install, this time adding on a folder for the files inside Documents. (i.e., C:\Users\the buddy's games\Documents\Europa Universalis III).
So I began to uninstall, all worked fine, reinstalled, no problem, although I noticed when I tried to install it in Documents there were no other subfolders...peculiar. It installed fine, and as I began to patch the game again, I went to Documents, and to my horrifying discovery, Documents was empty except for the game folder I had made.
I realized what happened instantly. When I chose to "uninstall" the game again, it chose to uninstall all contents from the folder they were stored in...meaning uninstalling every file from "Documents," including a few other games, irreplaceable pictures and school papers.
If you've stuck with me this far, thank you. My question can be summed up in asking, what can I do to recover every file in Documents that got uninstalled? My recycle bin is empty, but I've done nothing else since this discovery other than type this message. I haven't shut off the computer, installed anything else, which I understand is crucial in data recovery. What reliable, free software is there that can recover the data for me? Will I have to dig through the inner reaches of my computer files? Please respond ASAP and help me, I have lost a lot of irreplaceable data and not through simply "deleting" and "emptying the recycle bin."
Thank you so much in advance and have a great day.