So here's where we stand with the computer. We took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy and they gave us no hope. $200 gone on that. Then several people recommended Intrex, so I toted the computer there yesterday. $100. They couldn't read the drive either. However, they said they had seen this before and they knew exactly who to send it to and are confident the data can be retrieved. (I liked Intrex very much and will be using them for future repairs, if needed.)
Intrex can remove the hard drive, which we would then mail to this third party vendor. Intrex said it would probably be a week or two before we got the data back. I don't have a price quote at this point.
After all this, I think I'm just going to let the data be lost. We're already $300 in on this little venture and I'm sure it will be at least another couple hundred to retrieve the data. I'm not sure that what I've lost is worth $500. I've rewritten my article already, so that's done. We've lost our I-tunes, but it's hardly worth paying a few hundred dollars to replace those. I've lost updates to my Access database where I track job submissions and log payments, but I should be able to go through checking and piece together most of that. As for e-mails... I know I'll lose a bunch, but nothing is screaming at me that I must have it. I might be forgetting something, but I'm willing to risk it.
I'll check and see what the cost is to retrieve the data but I think whichever way it goes, we'll weather the storm okay.
And I'd like to think we've learned a little lesson about backing up the computers on a regular basis.
Thanks to everyone who posted on the blog or e-mailed suggestions on where to take the computer!