Sounds like your hard drive may be suffering from mechanical failure, or logical failure (data corruption for example). As suggested, one way to attempt to gain access to your data (on your laptop) is by booting into a different operating system (that is, an operating system not located on your dying
hard drive). As kmote mentioned, you can boot into Ubuntu from an Ubuntu setup disc and try to access and backup your files there - instructions here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCD
. It's fairly straightforward.
Another solution, would be to remove your hard drive from your laptop and connect it to another computer using a USB external 2.5" hard drive enclosure. This requires you to purchase or get hold of an external enclosure.
Yet another (but arguably unrecommended) solution you could try is to check for and repair any errors on the disk. This will fix any logical errors on the hard drive (data integrity for example) but it won't do anything for mechanical hard drive errors. The reason why this isn't recommended is because if mechanical failure exists on your hard drive, then checking the disk for logical errors may worsen it's condition, perhaps to the point where it fails completely. Nonetheless, you can can fix any errors on the disk by using a command line tool call CHKDSK. This can be done if you have a Windows XP setup disc at hand. On the disc is a recovery console you can boot into, and from there, you can run the command CHKDSK X: /R
is the volume letter for your Windows partition.
If you have Windows Vista installed, and have a Vista setup disc at hand, by booting into it you can try running 'Startup Repair' to scan for and fix certain problems on the system. Similarly with Windows XP, you can also run the CHKDSK X: /R
command to check and repair errors on the disk (by entering 'Command Prompt' in the system recovery options on the Vista setup disc).
Some further advice. Most Universities will have student IT support. Check to see if your University has one. They may be able to assist you in gaining access to your data. Also consider submitting an extenuating circumstances form if you think this snafu has or will affect your ability to hand in your work on time, or contact your lecturer / personal tutor. As a last resort, you might also consider going to a computer repair shop to recover your data.
Whatever you do, remember that your main objective is to try and backup any important data from your hard drive. Don't let anyone bother with attempting to perform a non-destructive system recovery / system restore (i.e. re-installing the operating system files while keeping personal data on the hard drive intact) until
you have managed to backup your data from the hard drive, because in the case of mechanical hard drive failure, it may worsen the condition. To add, non-destructive system recovery sometimes ends up deleting important data (hence why it's always advised to backup personal data beforehand, even on a healthy system).