Definately your best bet ist to get a usb enclosure for your Laptop Harddrive. Just check if its a IDE or SATA drive. Either way a external usb enclosure is very cheap, you can get one for 20 Euros or so. Maybe even less, depending on the manufacturor.
If your harddrive is busted, you might need some special software to recover your data.
I would first suggest you try using a linux bootcd and use ddrescue, since its free. Google the internet for tutorials on how to recover data with ddrescue. A goot bootcd in this case would either be knoppix or SystemRescueCD.
If that should fail, or if your just not comfortable enough with linux. The are some proprietary (which cost money) programs which you can try. What has worked for me in the past was :
- Ontrack Easy Recovery
- File Scavenger
File Scavenger even managed to recover files from a drive which constantly gave read errors, and wasnt even mountable. Back then, I hadn’t even heard of ddrescue, so I dont know if that would have worked in that case.
Once you get the USB enclosure and all these methods fail, because the drive is simply not responding, keep trying a couple of times. Sometimes you can get lucky and the drive will respond, allowing you to backup your data.
On minor note about USB enclosures. USB enclosures for Notebook harddrives, usually dont require a external power source. They get their power from the usb port. However not all usb ports deliver enough juice. Some laptops have a specific “powered” usb port. Otherwise, usb enclosures usually come with a Y-usb cable. Basically a cable with one mini usb connection on one end and two usb connectors on the other end. This allows you to plug both in and get more electricity from the second usb port.
If you connect the usb enclosure to a desktop pc, try the front and also the back usb connections. On my PC for example, the front ones dont deliver enough power, the rear ones do.