Introduction: Your computer contains very important files on it. Work files, personal documents, tax receipts and other files that would be hard to recreate. You probably also have thousands of digital pictures spanning the past 10 years or so, as society has moved away from film and towards all digital content. Losing all the pictures of your children or family events from the past years can be devastating to even think of.

This article will give you information of what to do in case you have a computer emergency as well as details on some of the scams and dirty tricks that are out there in the wild. For the sake of this article, I will concentrate on two distinct, common computer problems: Logical and Physical hard drive failures.

Logical Hard Drive Failure occurs when your hard drive becomes corrupted by the operating system (over time) or by a virus. The directory on the hard drive is corrupted to the point where it locks up and you get a blue screen / grey screen upon start up or in the case of an external drive, it won’t mount or show up on the desktop. Physically the drive is still fine, but the drive directory is preventing you access to the data on the drive. In this case, recovery software can get beyond the directory issues and allow you to recover any and possibly all files over to a second hard drive. It is never recommended to perform a “software repair” to the hard drive in question as that may cause additional damage to the drive data and overwrite important files during the repair attempt. If your main hard drive is corrupted, you will need a recovery software tool that can boot up your computer (look for software that includes a bootable CD or DVD). These types of products save you from the need to remove the hard drive or hook the computer up to another computer for the recovery process. www.prosofteng.com offers free demos to try-before-you-buy to ensure that the software is able to see the hard drive, allows a full scan and shows you all the files that are recoverable.

If the corrupted hard drive is an external drive, you can simply run recovery software on your computer to scan that bad hard drive. Most well-known recovery software will allow you to demo the software to make sure it can “see” the bad hard drive. If one piece of software cannot see the drive, don’t give up hope, try another product… One good way to qualify a company is to check out their “About Us” page on their website. A good company will give you details of who they are, including their street address and phone numbers. By giving that info out, the company is automatically connected to their customers in a closer relationship, so they have to work hard to make the product top-quality. For other companies that only give you an email address or support form to fill out, they are more insulated from the customers and may use that to avoid issues and problems should they arise for their customers. Remember, it only take a few dollars to make a website and charge your credit card. Make sure the company behind the website is indeed a legitimate company. Many new “companies” come onto the marketplace with great looking websites and tons of award logos and reviews from the top magazines. Upon further investigation, these award logos and reviews are all fake, taken and added to a company’s website to fool the public. The companies are based in countries where a lawsuit (from the magazines) would never take place, and therefore the magazines are helpless in trying to get the companies to remove the fake reviews and stolen award logos. Even if a company claims they have a Satisfaction Guarantee or Money-Back guarantee, that too might be a lie, only found out after you purchase and try to get your money back. The key is to do some research and make sure the company is legitimate. Also realize that there are many brand new “review” websites created each day online, many of which are paid-affiliates, getting a cut of the purchase after you read their “reviews”. Knowing this, you may be able to picture how certain bad products have lots of glowing reviews online (the reviewers are many times part of an elaborate team of affiliates or employees, all with the same goal of promoting a product they may be making a commission on).

If your hard drive is still not seen by software, a good trick to try is putting into a different enclosure. It might cost you $20-$50 for a new enclosure, but by trying that first, you can save yourself from an expensive physical recovery if it’s not necessary.