Important, Valuable and Sentimental data can easily be corrupt / wiped from your hard drive. The biggest piece of advice you can follow in any circumstance that leads to this, is to STOP what you are doing and power down your system!
Even if this data was deleted on purpose by someone, either with malous, or by accident, there is still a stronge chance of recovering this data! And yes, I do mean even after the “recycle bin” has been emptied! BUT: the more times you read and write to your hard drive after the data has been lost, the more chance you have of never seeing those files again. The best analagy I can give, is to imagine a notepad: You have just written down some important notes, but for some reason, the top page is now missing. If you carefully look at the underlying page, you may be able to make out an indentation of the notes you had written. However, if you continued to write on this pad instead, you would pretty much loose all chances of being able to decypher, what was previously written.
Using specialist tools it is sometimes possible to “undelete” these files, and also then back them up to dvd for safe keeping.
We are all guilty of saving our family snaps etc to our computer nowadays, more so with the the wide use of digital cameras and quality mobile snaps, with the intent to print them out later. However, busy lives can lead us to put this off, and sometime things just don’t always go to plan (system virus, power outage causing corrupt unbootable hard drive, spills, and hardware failure). If the worst happens, then there is always a chance to recover those memories. Whilst it is never a guarantee that the files can be recovered, there is often a very good chance.
Of course the best answer is: Backup, Backup, and Backup some more. But usually complacency, lack of facilites, and “ill do it later” prevents us all from doing this when it counts ( I have even been guilty of this myself). If any of this sounds familiar, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. But most importantly: Power down that system first, and keep it turned off! Even a system that appears to be doing nothing whilst being turned on, will still read and write to its hard drive frequently.