My question is similar to this question
, but I've made more mistakes than they did so my situation is a bit different. Here we go:
I spilled a small amount of water on the trackpad of my laptop, and some got down into my secondary hard drive (it's a big laptop and has space for two drives, the OS is running on the primary drive). It's a Western Digital Scorpio (WD3200BEKT), 320GB. The water got caught between the flexible plastic drive caddy and the drive's external circuit board. The board shorted out, and the connection between the external board and the internal board was slightly shorted out also.
This shouldn't have been a problem. I have an external drive that I use Windows 7's built-in utility to back up both the internal drives. I was going to just buy a new drive and restore from that... but the next morning when the backup ran again it deleted the system image of the drive. I know it was there because I both checked the status in the backup utility and saw the few-hundred-gigabyte .vhd image file in Windows Explorer.
So, disaster. I shut down every program that might be using the external drive and downloaded several file deletion programs to the primary drive. Nothing; just tiny files I had deleted myself days ago.
I could theoretically afford a drive recovery service, but it would put a serious dent in my finances. Because of this, and since the drive was out of warranty, I opened it up; the only damage is the external board and the small internal housing that connects by a ribbon cable to the drive heads. I had the brilliant idea of buying another drive of the same model and just replace the damaged parts... but while the new drive has the same model number it's guts have been updated in the ~3 years that I've had it.
So now I've got two inoperable drives, two hundred fewer dollars, and a larger recovery bill as apparently an open drive will cost more money to fix than an intact drive. This thing has all my family and friends pictures, all my military pictures, all my cat macros, all my music. I can't just put it behind me. Do I have any options apart from paying $500+ to get it fixed?