Recently I booted up one of my desktops and it wouldn't boot because some windows system file was missing. It asked me to re-install that file, so I tried to do a windows repair using the recovery disks that came with the computer. The recovery disks wouldn't work, as I think the computer refused to boot from a CD.
There was no unusual hard drive noise, leading me to believe this is a logical failure, as opposed to a mechanical one.
The hard drive has some very valuable files on it, so I really want to try to recovery them. Right now, my first course of action will probably be to get an external CD case and try to read the hard drive through a USB connection on a second computer.
If that doesn't work, I think the next best step is to use a data recovery program. I've heard GetDataBack is the best one to chose (though, how can I tell if I need NTFS or FAT?).
Finally, I'd also be willing to pay for a professional to do this (though I'd like to keep it between $500-$1k).
My question is really two fold - first, is my approach described above a wise move, and second, should I even bother trying this myself, or is it safer to go straight to a professional?