This blog article is a part 2 for hard drive data recovery where your hard drive will no longer boot into Windows. See part 1 here.
If the situation is serious, you may need to use a data recovery service. They are expensive, however if recovering the data is uber important, you may have no choice. It is best to not attempt any form of data recovery yourself and you increase the chance of causing more damage or losing more data. You increase the likelihood of being able to recover your data if you don’t do anything.
If the loss of the data isn’t super critical, you could try some of the software solutions below on your own.
One free piece of software you should have in your toolkit for just such a situation is Parted Magic. This particular piece of software you need to burn the image you download (an ISO file) to a CD and then you would boot your computer from that. This is very helpful to have in those situations where your computer can’t boot into Windows. Also it is always good to shutdown your computer if you are really concerned about recovering a file as it minimizes the chance that anything overwrites it. So using something like Parted Magic to boot into an alternate operating system to recover your files is more ideal.
Burning ISO files to an optical disc (CD/DVD) is quite easy. One nice free program you can use is CDBurnerXP. It is very simple to use for burning files or entire images (ISO files) to a disc.
Parted Magic has it’s own file manager view and you can copy files from the corrupted hard drive to another drive. Never copy files to the same drive that is having problems as you might overwrite what you are trying to recover.
Another idea is to take the bad drive and connect it to another computer. If the drive does spin up and shows up in the drive manager, but you cannot see any of the files, then you could look at some commercial programs. One program is R-Studio which has 3 flavours all under $100 and is generally successful at recovering files. It supports a large number of file systems (including Windows, Linux, and BSD variants).