As long as you can actually get at the drive - and by that I mean, either get the BIOS to recognise it as a slave drive or by fitting it into a USB caddy (set to Cable Select), it's not too bad. There are DOS drivers available for getting at USB HDDs via a DOS boot.
I have recovered ton's of stuff with Spinrite 6 - http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm - this has got to be the top tool for the job. There are also loads of excellent Free stuff on the site as well. If you haven't purchased Spinrite before, it will cost you $89 (US) or $69 for an upgrade from a previous version. You can also download the manuals free, in .pdf format.
Personally, I always try to boot from a Win98se floppy disk and use Spinrite on a second Floppy disk (yes it's that small - pure machine code). Sometimes, if the HDD's Smartdrive tells the program that the HDD is on it's way out, it does not recommend a Number 5 recovery but, if you don't get this warning, use number five (run it overnight - it takes a while). You can also bring old HDDs back to life with this program and use it for 'preventive maintenance'. Don't worry about booting from Win98se boot disks, Spinrite will still work with NTFS from a DOS boot. It does a kind of non-destructive formatting.
If the actual circuit has blown, the only chance you've got here is to get an identical HDD, open both HDDs and put the platters from the wreaked drive into the working one. I have heard people say that it sometimes needs the heads aligning but I have Never found this problem. HDDs are made to a fairly accurate standard.
Was this reply helpful? (0) (0)