and I suspect very difficult for a Windows computer to reset itself back to factory settings as there would need to be some sort of keyboard input to get that going.
First thing first, if this really has happened then the best way to get your files off is with a Linux Live CD, like Ubuntu Live. This is an Operating System wholly contained on a CD. The CD is inserted, the computer started, and it boots into Linux from the CD. No changes are made to the hard drive. You can get Ubuntu downloaded and burned to a CD as an iso from here;
and Google has other options.
The great thing about this is, if the hard disk is readable Ubuntu will read it and you will be able to navigate to your personal file folders and copy them to some other external media, eg a memory stick or external USB hard drive.
That way whatever happens, your files are safe. I have to say they would have been safe anyway if you had had backups, but such is how we learn.
Once that is done and with the system closed down and the CD withdrawn, you can then investigate whether the computer really has reverted back to factory default, or whether there is some other explanation.
I hope that helps.
I have an Asus G51VX. Today I came home from college with my laptop in tow so I could do a paper over the weekend. I sent it into hibernate then put it in a carrying case and in the passenger seat of my car. When I got home and turned it on, the Windows Vista setup screen was present.
I have Windows 7, and a lot of work is/was saved on my hard drive. I haven't touched the laptop at all as I'm afraid anything I may do will permanently destroy my data.
Is there anything I can do to get back what I had?