IamA data recovery engineer. I get files from busted hard drives, SSDs, iPhones, whatever else you've got. AMAA!
Hey, guys. I am an engineer at datarecovery.com, one of the world's leading data recovery companies. Ask me just about anything you want about getting data off of hard drives, solid-state drives, and just about any other device that stores information. We've recovered drives that have been damaged by fire, airplane crashes, floods, and other huge disasters, although the majority of cases are simple crashes.
The one thing I can't do is recommend a specific hard drive brand publicly. Sorry, it's a business thing.
This came about due to this post on /r/techsupportgore, which has some awesome pictures of cases we handled:
One of our employees answered some questions in that thread, but he's not an engineer and he doesn't know any of the really cool stuff. If you've got questions, ask away -- I'll try to get to everyone!
I'm hoping this album will work for verification, it has some of our lab equipment and a dismantled hard drive (definitely not a customer's drive, it was scheduled for secure destruction): http://imgur.com/a/TUVza
Mods, if that's not enough, shoot me a PM.
Oh, and BACK UP YOUR DATA.
EDIT: This has blown up! I'm handing over this account to another engineer for a while, so we'll keep answering questions. Thanks everyone.
EDIT: We will be back tomorrow and try to get to all of your questions. I've now got two engineers and a programmer involved.
EDIT: Taking a break, this is really fun. We'll keep trying to answer questions but give us some time. Thanks for making this really successful! We had no idea there was so much interest in what we do.
FINAL EDIT: I'll continue answering questions through this week, probably a bit sporadically. While I'm up here, I'd like to tell everyone something really important:
If your drive makes any sort of noise, turn it off right away. Also, if you accidentally screw up and delete something, format your drive, etc., turn it off immediately. That's so important. The most common reason that something's permanently unrecoverable is that the user kept running the drive after a failure. Please keep that in mind!
Of course, it's a non-issue if you BACK UP YOUR DATA!