CPR For Your Computer's Hard Drive

generic web internet computer pc sickness red cross virus bug

It started out like any other day. Sit down at the desk, fire up the computer, and get down to -- huh?

"DISK READ ERROR. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del."

Something was seriously wrong with the computer, CBS Sunday Morning contributor David Pogue recounts.

Now, I'm not the first person on Earth to experience a total hard drive meltdown. It happens to thousands of people, every day. It happened to the computer manager for the Minnesota Twins, John Avenson.

"It started squealing like a pig. Unfortunately, once you hear that clicking noise, it's pretty much done for," Avenson says.

It happened to a writer for "The Simpsons," Bill Oakley.

"I couldn't begin to remember what was on there, I just knew everything was on there," Oakley recalls.

And it happened to Gene Rupp, a consultant who designs industrial equipment on his computer at home.

"It said, 'Hard drive not found' and then I started listening to my computer and it's like, I hear a little noise, it's not like a transmission going out on a tractor or something," Rupp says.

Of course, I'm not some amateur. I'm a professional technology journalist. I have experience. I have tools. I have -- exactly the same problem.

I was desperate. And when you're desperate, there is a last resort for people who absolutely, positively have to get their computer files back.

It's called a data-recovery company. It's a service as specialized and high-tech as a hospital and almost as expensive. But they boast a 90 percent success rate in recovering files from dead drives.

Kelly Chessen used be a counselor for a suicide hotline. But at DriveSavers, her job is to calm down customers who have lost their cool along with their data.