some personal views
See if somebody in the congregation can take the hard drive out and download your files to another computer. Worth a try. Alternatively it maybe that Microsoft windows needs reinstalling on your computer. I'm not an expert but, I'm sure someone out there will be.
Deep sympathy....been there, and experienced that, but...there IS life after computer crash\best wishes
The data is probably still on the disc, but you just can't get at it easily any more. I believe the only 100% sure-fire way of making data irrecoverable is to physically destroy the disc.The are companies that specialise in recovering data from failed discs, but they charge an arm and a leg (which could make genuflection just that bit more challenging)!As already suggested, there's bound to be someone in your congregation who could help.These days, daily backing up is easy with memory sticks that just plug into the front USB socket.
Some years ago I suffered a crash and lost everything. I learned a valuable lesson. Since then I have a back-up hard disk and back up all my work each night. All it takes is two clicks on an icon for documents, and the same for emails, and hey presto, everything is saved. It is as simple as that. If a doddery pensioner can do it then so can a doddery priest. Back up disks cost as little at £35 and everyone with a working computer should have one. If your computer crashes then all can be reloaded from the back-up disk.
You could try putting a vacuum cleaner in and sucking out the soot. But the easiest way to keep your emails safe is to get a gmail account. It stores all your emails and contacts in a data complex somewhere in California, on the San Andreas fault, and apart from the problem that the CIA and Freemasons might hack into your account, it is quite safe.Seriously, I have some a system rescue disc on my laptop which can read Windows discs and copy onto another drive. I may be able to sort it out.
Father, one thing worth trying is a gadget such as this:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sata-Drive-Cable-Converter-Adapter/dp/B0032GQ0MQ/ref=sr_1_69?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1316145981&sr=1-69You take the hard drive out of your defunct computer (all that needs is a screwdriver and a little determination), and use the gizmo to connect it to a working computer. You should then be able to rescue the data from it.Get a parishioner with a screwdriver to help you.For less than ten pounds, it's worth a try.
I second what Richard said (Been there, done that when my HP casing totally fell apart and computer wouldn't boot.) I made the internal drive into an external. With NO problem recovering data.HOWEVER, one caveat. Your old drive may or may not be a 'SATA' type drive, depending on age of computer/drive. Have someone else look at it first (getting it out is quite simple) and see what kind of connector pins it has. These conversion kits are fairly straight forward. And cost about the same. (You may have a 'PATA' type hard drive.) Essentially what you get is a slim line case to slide your old drive in to and the 'new' external drive connects via a USB port.
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