slipkid - 5:39 am on Nov 1, 2012 (gmt 0)
No additional technical advice here (other than to second the recommendation to shut down immediately the HD with your data), rather, how I reacted to a FAT failure on one of my company's hard drives. I was determined to recover the data.
I had staff use 4 different data recovery programs to retrieve the data and we got about 80 percent back. Because of a corrupted FAT and that some files had been partially over-written, many recovered files were only half complete and filenames were something like 00001.tmp. It was necessary to go through each file and give it a filename that made sense and delete the mishmash of alphanumerica data that represented the corrupted portion of the file. It took a week to recover what we could.
I was crushed... as if I had lost a close friend. Indeed, the data was correspondence and emails that reflected work product that I was archiving for any future need.
I immediately purchased new computers which became dedicated backups for correspondence and work product.
It took at least a month to get over the fact that I had screwed up. I just could not let go of the disappointment that I had lost what I believed was absolutely vital data. As time went by, I realized that my engineering consulting business was still intact, my clients still had my phone number, and our work product had not suffered at all.
If you are faced with starting from scratch, consider that it is human beings that create value for the business not machines.