I haven’t touched my (personal) Windows laptop for a while: mainly because, I’ve been (primarily) using Ubuntu for things I normally did on Windows. This is both a good and bad sign: First of all, I’ve settled on using specific Linux tools to process my RAW photos (using UFRaw and The Gimp). Yes, I noticed RawStudio (don’t get me started on F-Spot), but while close to what I’m looking for, it misses features like cropping and that. On the bad side: I’ve not been doing a lot of side-programming, so things I’ve been working on have been lingering around, so to say.
This brings me to a couple of notes of note:
If you’re into making your own (Debian) based Live distribution, you may want to check into the Debian Live Project: I only mention it here because I keep losing the link and whenever I keep thinking of it, I end up looking for it on Google.
Way earlier, I was reminded that people actually buy (Windows) software to help them recover data from (accidentally) erased or formatted hard disks. You can also use the tools on the Knoppix CD for this. Or even better, the Knoppix Security Tools Disk.
And, if you really want to nuke your harddrive, because you’re being chased by a bunch of aliens, you may just as well do it the right way. DBAN, is a self-contained boot disk that can format your drive securely and thoroughly.