The worst requests i get on fixing computers are from firstly, those who ask me to fix their friend’s computer (or their friend’s friend’s), and secondly, those who made a mess by allowing every kind of virus and malware into their computer. Ok, lets get on with data recovery..
I was asked to help fix a laptop (Windows XP) that refuses to boot up. Diagnosis shows that the harddisk was damaged. Naturally the first thing to do is to try to backup whatever data that can still be salvaged. To cut the long story short, this is the thing to do: get the Ubuntu Live CD, boot up the laptop with the Live CD, plug in a USB thumbdrive and copy whatever data that can still be read from the laptop harddisk to the thumbdrive. The copying process will take a long time because there will be a lot of retries when reading corrupted data, and you have to answer prompts to skip the corrupted file, so do be patient.
If the Ubuntu Live CD solution doesn’t work, the next solution worth trying is to use DiskInternals NTFS Recovery software, which comes for a fee. Use the trial version to see if data can be recovered before acquiring the full version. The easy way to attempt this recovery process is actually to dismantle the harddisk from the laptop, plug it into a USB harddisk enclosure or use a laptop to PC IDE adaptor (like the one pictured below), attach it to a PC and run the software from the PC. If these two methods don’t work, maybe you can try the harddisk freezer trick..