Can I run recovery software while using my computer?

So, my computer recently crashed. I eventually recovered enough (I thought to get my computer somewhat back to normal). However, I didn’t get enough to save my highly personalized Firefox. So, what I’m wondering is if there is recovery software I can use to look at the files on my computer while still using it to go about my life? Or, do I have to go through the whole 15-hour process of scanning my computer (I was using a bootdisk with Final Data)?
My system:

Dell Inspiron 1420
Vista Home Premium

Really? Nothing?

I’m not certain about Vista and not certain what happened to your computer, but there are a lot of recovery programs that will work. There even used to be some freeware programs for XP.

However, running recovery software while the computer is on usually runs the risk of overwriting what you are trying to recover. The files that are lost are probably recognized as free space, so any time the computer needs free space, it may write over them. Just surfing the web and downloading the program may overwrite things, and god knows what all the background process in windows may be saving. If you really wanted to recover everything possible, you’d want to yank the power cord without shutting down, put the drive in a different computer as read only and run the recovery program.