I have been running Ubuntu for over a year on my laptop and I've really come to enjoy it. So much that it has replaced Windows in my day-to-day activities.
Yesterday an error occurred on my desktop version of 12.04 that caused it to fail to boot. In the process, I lost the contents of my home folder despite creating a back up of the home folder.
Here is the time line:
Feb 18, 2013 - Installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on desktop via Wubi. The install went as advertised and I proceeded to apply personal tweaks to make both the laptop and the desktop essentially the same. Everything functioned normally.
Feb 19-23 - Began moving files from the laptop to the desktop in an effort to centralize my own files. The intent was to use Dropbox as a sort of "briefcase", and use the laptop when I needed to be mobile.
Feb 24 - Everything functioned normally through the day. I switched to Windows to continue sending things to Dropbox as I could not see any of the Ubuntu folders in my Windows Explorer. As this was my first dual boot experience, I assumed this was normal.
While in Windows, the HP Desktop Assistant informed me it needed to do system maintenance (I use windows only for MS Flight Sim - it is infrequent). I delayed it by one hour. System did not ask me again, and I assume it went ahead and did what it needed to do while files were being moved to Dropbox.
System failed to boot 12.04. Internet research lead me to believe the GRUB2 had somehow become corrupt (possibly during the above Windows maintenance). At this time I created a bootable USB using UNetBootin.
This gained access to a terminal where I ran "boot-repair". Boot Repair found an issue and advised me to back up my files. I proceeded to put the contents of my Home folder on another USB. After this process had completed, the system became unresponsive - I could not double check that the files had actually moved.
I believed I had enough evidence that the transfer had taken place, I opted to remove Wubi, and do a true dual boot of Ubuntu in its own partition, hoping this would prevent this error from happening again. When that had completed, I found the USB contained only the folders within my Home folder from the previous Wubi install.
I have run Photorec, as suggested below. It recovered fragments of files, but not a whole file. I suspect this occurred when I attempted another Wubi install in the hopes that it would locate my old home folder (this was done prior to asking for help from ask ubuntu).
I am still seeking solution, but I believe the contents of my previous Home folder are now unrecoverable.
I'm running Ubuntu 12.04 on its own partition (now), 64 bit Windows 7 is on the other partition (where the Wubi install was)
If any other details will be helpful, I'll be glad to provide. Also, I'm not afraid of the command line.
EDIT This question can be closed. User bcbc gave the best answer in another forum: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2065355
If the home folder is lost during a Wubi uninstall (as mine was) then it is gone. I believe it would have been recoverable had I not attempted another Wubi install this morning (prior to asking the above question) prior to running programs that can recover deleted data.
Tough lesson to learn. Thank you to those who took the time to help out.