We rely on computers so much in our everyday lives, yet some of us don't even realize that until something happens that points it out in a painful way. Like for example, having your laptop break down when you need it for important work. It's one thing to realize that you'll be set back by a few days until it's fixed, but the prospect of losing all your work because you've made no backups is an even more serious one that can quickly drive some people to panic.
Don't be quick to write off your hard drive's contents though. Even if it was formatted by a virus, all hope is not lost. Due to the way hard drives work, unless it was a "full" format, all of your data will still be on there. It just has to be recovered in a special way which requires an additional computer and a few hours.
Most good computer repair shops can offer you data recovery services, so you just have to take your machine to them immediately after the problem occurred. This is actually important to mention – don't attempt to do any recovery on your own! Data recovery works on the presumption that no writing activity has occurred on the hard drive after the incident, as this will start to slowly destroy the data.
If the hard drive is physically damaged, that's a different story. It may still be possible to get the data out of it, but this has to be done by specialized professionals with the necessary equipment. If you want to actually keep that hard drive afterwards (if it's possible to repair it), then the repair has to be performed in a "clean room" as even a tiny speck of dust can have a serious impact on the drive's performance.
How much is this going to cost you? That depends on the severity of the damage and the amount of data that you want to save. If it's just a software issue and normal recovery procedures can be applied, you shouldn't expect to pay a lot, and it can be done in a few hours as well. Hardware problems can be more difficult and time-consuming, and you might hear some unpleasant news if that's the kind of thing you're dealing with, even more so with an expensive hard drive.
Always do some research before giving your laptop to a repair shop to take care of, especially if you value your data and your time. It's not very difficult at all to put up a sign advertising computer repair services these days, so unless you've actually read some good things about the shop you're dealing with, you shouldn't automatically trust them based on their own claims of professionalism. If you can find some online reviews by previous customers praising them for their service, while at the same time there aren't too many (or none at all) negative opinions about the shop to be found, you'll know you've found the right place to trust your data with.
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