Back to google, there's a Staples in Sedona, so I stopped in to see what they could do. Rates on the site were $249. The tech plugged in my drive and placed his ear on it, could not hear anything (that's the diagnosis process? was he the hard drive listener?). He proclaimed it dead and said he can send it off to the data recovery center and the price would be $999, not including the price of a new drive for transferred data.
Back to google, found a place called $300 data recovery. Checked the online (just Google & Facebook) reviews, looked good, so I filled out a ticket on 4/2 and shipped my drive to Studio City, CA on 4/3 with the understanding that if they cannot recover the data, there is no charge.
They received my drive on Saturday, 4/5 and sent me a ticket with the policies and expectations, if they can retrieve the data, the charge will be $300 and they will move the data to a 500GB portable backup drive I'm buying for $89.99. Sounds good.
On Monday, 4/7, they emailed me an update saying they can recover the data, they are doing it now and transferring it to my new portable backup drive. And would I like to review this list of recovered files they have so kindly attached to this email? You bet I would.
I scanned the list and actually got tears in my eyes as I saw they recovered some pictures of my dad who has been gone for 13 years. And baby pictures of my nieces and nephew. And my sisters graduation pictures and my other sisters and my brothers wedding pictures and so much more. So when they sent me a bill for $399 for the service & the drive, I paid it immediately and felt like that was the best money I have ever spent on anything.
Today, on 4/10/2014, only 7 days after I shipped them the drive, I am looking at all the recovered pictures and files on my new Seagate 500GB portable drive. I am absolutely astonished by the speed and professionalism that I've encountered during this entire experience. All my data, pictures, videos, music, backups, is all there.
1. Reliably back up your data. I will use the new hard drive I just bought for backup, but will look at cloud options too. The problem with the 1st drive was when the external power supply failed, I had no way to get the data off the drive quickly, so I put it off.
2. If you ever do need data recovered, immediately go to:
THANK YOU $300 DATA RECOVERY!!