One of the worst things that can happen to a person's computer is the failure of a hard drive. Most things that go wrong with a PC are easily repairable. A power supply goes out? Replace it. A memory stick goes bad? Replace it. A CD / DVD drive goes bad? Oh well, it can be replaced for thirty dollars or so. A hard drive goes out? Sound the alarms, take evasive action, do whatever it takes to save it.
What is the difference? Why do people accept that other pieces of hardware fail but go crazy when a hard drive fails. Well, quite simply, the majority of the time, it is hard to place a monetary value on a hard disk drive. Sure, a new hard drive can be purchased for around one hundred dollars. That's no big deal. What is the big deal then? How about the two years worth of hard work stuck on that disk? What about the fact that a person's entire family's digital photo album is now in digital purgatory? These are very real problems when a hard drive fails.
What can a person do when a drive fails? Well, that person needs to take action quickly. If the issue is a hardware issue, often a company that specializes in data recovery can replace the broken parts of the drive or put the hard drive platters in a known good drive. This allows them to retrieve the data off of the disk in most cases. Some of the data may be corrupt, but generally most of the data can be rolled off of the disk without too much of an issue.
If there is a software issue, the process is different, it may be a bit more time consuming, and it may be a bit more expensive. Most often, when the issue involves software, somehow the file system on the disk got corrupted. The data recovery company will most likely need to install the disk in a known good PC and then run specialized pieces of diagnostic software to determine the root of the problem and if possible, rebuild the file table / bad data.
Regardless of the cause of the hard drive failure, hard disk failures are inevitable, and it is important that a person is prepared. Keeping a proper backup is the best way to prepare for the inevitable hard drive failure, but if there is no backup available, data recovery is typically the next best option.