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Data Recovery Questions from Clients

I’ve been using a Toshiba 250GB 2.5” SATA internal drive in my laptop and recently it has started to make little clicking sounds as though something is hitting against the internal workings. I thought nothing of it and carried on with what I was doing until the mythical blue screen of death appeared and flashed up a whole load of stuff I didn’t understand. I say mythical because I’ve been lucky enough never to have any problems in that department before but seeing it I knew something wasn’t quite right. Then the laptop started rebooting itself every so often until it seemed to get in some kind of a loop. I had to switch the power off at the plug and leave it for a while and when I went back to it and switched it on the laptop immediately directed me to the BIOS which I’m told is where the computer decides what way or in what order to open up drives etc. It told me there was no drive selected and suggested I search for the drive if I didn’t know the exact serial number. I did this and it found it only for it to disappear again as I pressed the save and exit button. Now the clicking has gotten louder and the drive just seems to be spinning about inside and won’t let me get by the BIOS features. I’ve tried pressing f5 and f8 and other variations as detailed on the net but nothing works. I’m worried now because I’m training to be a vet and I have a whole host of reports and what have you that I can’t get to.

I’m asking this question because I have no idea what to do and my wife is frantic because we have a lot of family photographs on our home computer that we are at risk of losing if someone can’t help us out. She was using the computer just a few hours ago and was doing nothing out of the ordinary when the drive suddenly stopped working and the computer froze. I don’t have access to the model number but I know it is a Western Digital Caviar Blue 640GB drive that we bought from online a few years back. We’re not very clued in when it comes to this sort of thing but our son tried a few disk checking utilities and said that they weren’t recognizing the drive or what was on it. Does this mean the data is lost or just that something is preventing it from being seen? We aren’t bothered particularly about losing the drive but it is the stuff that is on it that’s precious. Is there some way the contents can be lifted off? We’d be ever so grateful if you could help. My son suggested taking the drive out and putting it into another machine but that said he admitted himself there was a chance it might not be recognized on another machine either and I don’t want to take the risk of damaging further an already damaged drive.