Anyone who uses a computer for important work is at risk of losing all of that work if their equipment malfunctions. A hard drive can fail with little warning particularly in laptops which are moved around frequently. This is a risk users who do not backup their work take. A proper backup service is required to prevent costly data loss. Recovering data from a crashed hard drive can be very expensive and can take multiple days for the drive to be sent off to a lab where the work can be done.
The typical hard drive has moving parts which read magnetic information off a spinning magnetized disk with a head that has to move in order to remain close enough to the disk. This part, known as the head, can scratch the disk which can corrupt the data in this area. These mechanical parts can also wear out. Further, the circuit board which controls reading the drive can fail due to power surges or merely old age. All of these instances can happen to any user no matter how careful. While newer technologies, such as solid state drives, are available, they are generally more expensive then the more ubiquitous spinning magnetic drives.
In some of these cases, the data can be recovered easily, but a spare part must be on hand. While information technology departments of large companies may be able to do this work in house and cheaply, for the average consumer, this is not available for free. It can take weeks for the drive to be sent off to a recovery company and saved. This time can result in lost time and money.
If a hard drive fails, there are a number of things that can be done before reverting to costly services. A local computer repair shop may be able to read the information with parts that bypass your computers motherboard if that is where the problem is located. In other cases, software can be used to read deleted files written on parts of the drive that have not been reused yet. Another trick involves placing the hard drive in the freezer. In general, this will allow you one last shot at recovering the data without more sophisticated techniques. Guides to attempt this method can be found easily with a quick web search. Some of these techniques can be done with twenty dollar parts which can be bought at most electronics stores that the average geek can handle. However, when it comes down to it, there may be no hope left.
Consider the cost of recovering data from a crashed hard drive before ignoring setting up a method of backing up your data. Replacing a hard drive when you have a back up is a much easier process then waiting for a company to do it for you.