The unimaginable happens. You were clicking merrily along on your keyboard when the screen went blank. Perturbed, you rebooted the computer. Panic hasn't set in yet — then the computer impassively informs you that no hard drive can be found.
If you use computers for any length of time, this situation is likely to happen to you. Most likely, it will happen to you while you're in the middle of an urgent project. This is when hard drive recovery comes in.
If the drive is truly dead, you have a few different options to recover the data.
Test it out on another computer. Sometimes it can be other failures on the computer that can cause your drive to not register. If you are able, hook the drive up to a different computer and see if it can read. If it does, you have an entirely different problem to deal with. If it doesn't, you have several choices for hardware and software based recovery.
Software data recovery systems. There are software suites that specialize in retrieving data from inaccessible drives. As this type of software is most commonly used in business computing situations, the cost can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Many times the software can also rescue recently deleted files.
You might get lucky and find a software package for data recovery that comes with a free trial. If you are even luckier, it will be a fully functional free trial.
Hardware data recovery systems. You typically can't get one of these for your home, but there are specialty pieces of hardware that will read the hard drive platters (the part of the hard drive on which your data is physically stored) directly. Typically these are services that will give you a quote based on the type of media the data is contained on, and the amount of data you wish to recover.
This service can vary widely, with the upper ranges going into the tens of thousands of dollars. Most of the time these services can recover your data, and they will also transfer it onto media of your choice for no extra cost.
Nothing can beat regular backups of your computer's data, but if you find yourself in a bind, use one of these services to bail yourself out!