Crash! And now you drive is fried. Can you recover your hard drive? If it spins up download the trial versions of Data Rescue 3, Disk Doctors or Digital Rescue and see for yourself. Recovering the data yourself will cost you about $100 or less and some time which is a heckofa lot cheaper that a recovery service.

I've been exactly where you are—I corrupted my system disk on a Friday with a report due on Monday and there was no way to get it. What did I do? First I panicked. Then I quickly learned how to do a hard drive recover. It took the weekend for the software to read the drive, but I sent my report to the client on time.

There are two ways that a drive can crash: Logical or mechanical failure. Logical failure means the drive is physically undamaged, but because of either accidental formatting or a corrupt file system, the drive is not able to find and navigate its own data. That's what happened to me. If it's a logical problem you may be able to recover the data using recovery software like Data Rescue 3, Disk Doctors or Digital Rescue. Macintosh owners can get Data Rescue II software for Mac-formatted drives.

These companies let you download free versions of the software so you can see what can be recovered. To recover you files you'll have to buy the full. I prefer Prosoft's Data Rescue because it will create a bootable rescue DVD for you so you don't have to open your computer (and possibly void the warrantee). The other recovery software  will require you to connect the dead drive to another computer to read the drive.

Here's what I learned when had to recover my drive: A full scan takes time… and I mean days for the software go through the drive and recovery is messy.

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You're not going to get your files in exactly the same condition as you left them. These programs do a data dump from your damaged drive to different location. Files will be organized by type — jpg images in one folder, pdf files in another folder, movies in another — and your songs and photos will be mixed with random sound and image files from other programs.

Additionally, the names of all your files will have been changed to various alphanumeric sequences, such as IMG1088.jpg or So be prepared to settle in for a long weekend of sifting through and renaming your files.

If you drive is doesn't spin-up or is making a clicking sound it means your drive has failed mechanically. The good news is your data can be recovered. The bad news is that to do so you have to throw money at it. A lot of money. A professional hard drive recover service can run $500 to $2500 or more depending on the amount of data and the severity of the problem.

Hard drive frozen in a block of ice

Not like this

There is one trick you can try that may allow you to extract some data: Freeze it! I've done this and it works. Put the drive in a zipper lock bag and stick it in the freezer for around 12 hours. While it's in there prioritize what data you want to recover. After you connect the frozen drive, if it spins-up, copy the files quickly before it fails again.

Oh, don't you think it's a good time to buy a backup drive if you don't have one and back everything up?

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