personally, I'd go for knoppix and try to read the files with the hex editors that come on the disk. The first few and last few lines will tell you what type of file each is. NTFS 3G will allow you to rename the files and bring back the original format.
I have a WD external 500GB hard drive, and after I formatted my main hard drive and installed Vista, I cannot see my files anymore. I had 45GB of files and now it only shows my Norton360 Backup folder with no files in it. I ran an Error-Checking from windows and it detected no errors and found a little more than 8000 files. Also when I go to the properties, it says that I have 44.9GB of used space. I also tried a recovery program for deleted files and it found nothing.
I tried and deleted the INFCACHE.1 file, rebooted and nothing. I discovered that there is a hidden folder named FOUND.000 with 8976 files named FILE0000.CHK, FILE0001.CHK, FILE0002.CHK... those are probably my files...
Does anyone know how can I fix this?