"Every hard drive in the world will eventually fail. Assume that yours are all on the cusp of failure at all times."An Ode to DiskWarrior, SuperDuper, and Dropbox: John Gruber talks about his Mac's hard drive failing and how he was able to recover all of his data using DiskWarrior, a file recovery utility, SuperDuper!, a backup utility that creates a fully bootable backup, and the file syncing system DropBox. While his advice is Mac specific, you can get a similar system going on Windows with Acronis for backups and one of many free file recovery programs such as TestDisk (which also has a Mac version). If you are not willing to spend the money on SuperDuper or Acronis, check out the free backup utilities Carbon Copy Cloner for Mac and Macrium Reflect Free for Windows.