If your drive is clicking loudly or won’t spin (start) up, you may need to call in a recovery service. They’re expensive but, if the data is crucial, you have no choice. If the loss isn’t traumatic, you can simply ditch the drive and re-create the data. Otherwise, be prepared to pay. But ?before pulling out your wallet, you might want to give these ?less expensive fixes a try.

If the drive seems healthy but you can’t boot into Windows, boot with a utility disc such as Parted Magic. If you can see the files in its file manager, copy those you need to another drive. Never copy to the same drive, because doing so might overwrite other data in the process. Alternatively, attach the drive to a working PC and use Windows to do the same thing.

If the drive spins up but doesn’t appear in Windows Drive Manager, try chilling it in the fridge. It may sound silly but, cooled electronics sometimes operate long enough for you to copy your vital data from it. No frost or condensation, please.

If your drive is spinning and shows up in the drive manager, but you can’t see any files on it, use a data-recovery program such as R-Studio Data Recovery, Active File Recovery or the free Piriform Recuva. Perform your recovery under Windows if you can; or use a boot disc, if one was supplied. If a quick file scan doesn’t work, use the slower sector-by-sector scan. Copy all the ?files you need.