Reader Jeanne Wright wrote me about her recent hard drive failure:
My computer just crashed and I had to have a new hard drive installed. Is there any way to get the information on my files and folders from the old hard drive? If so, where can I find someone to do this?
Needless to say, I had NOT backed up my computer before all this happened. Thanks!
I wrote back to Jeanne to say that, depending on the nature of the hard drive failure, her data may or may not be recoverable at a reasonable price.
Your local computer shop — but perhaps not the service department at the local "big box" retail superstore — should have the expertise to do that, if it can be done.
Often the local shops keep large numbers of old hard drives just for that reason. One of the major enemies of hard drives is heat. The integrated circuit board on the drive (the "IDE" in Integrated Drive Electronics) simply gets too hot and dies. Most IDE/EIDE/PATA (all the same thing, effectively) are made so that the circuit board can be pulled out and a working one put in. That way, if the failure is in the electronics, with a simple circuit board change, the the data can be recovered.
SATA drives should work similarly and provide easy recovery if the problem is heat damage to the circuit board.
Of course, if the damage is physical to the read head, to its movement mechanism or to the hard drive platters, the data is pretty much gone. Businesses might justify high-priced data recovery in a clean-room, but the pricing is out of reasonable reach for most home users.