A brand new home customer in Carmel Valley had a computer that couldn't boot. It didn't take long to realize that there was a problem with their hard drive, and that we should do our best to back up as much important data as possible before the drive got worse.
I hooked up the drive to a Windows computer to recover the data, but no luck. Windows couldn't read the file structure and wanted to format the disk, erasing everything. No thanks! I then hooked it up to my Macbook Air to see if I could detect the drive. Not really.
So… this drive was going to be a problem. Next, I booted to a rescue USB (made possible by an awesome tool called YUMI) and loaded my favorite Hirens Boot CD (even though it's on USB). I chose the entry for "Linux Based Rescue Environment - Parted Magic".
Parted Magic is a Linux-based operating system, but it feels a lot like Windows. It even has a start menu like button (take that Windows 8!) The most useful tools in Parted Magic are the "Drive Health" app on the desktop and the file manager. Although both Windows 7 and Mac OSX couldn't see the data on the drive, Parted Magic could. Immediately backed up all the data (didn't lose a thing) replaced the drive and installed Windows, Office & Quickbooks, moved the data back, and make sure we had a proper backup program moving forward.
Bottom line, if you're even a little bit techie, check out Parted Magic. If you're reading this and think, "Woah, that's too computery for me!", the good news is, we're available to get your data back and your computer working ASAP!