When the old computer imploded and I was able to salvage the old hard drive as an external drive, I made a promise to myself that I was going to back up all that old data.
The awesome thing about promises to yourself is that nobody hears you and it doesn't really matter if you keep them or not.
Then the external hard drive got dropped. Now, it's not important to play the blame game and determine who exactly dropped the drive and how it happened, what was important is that the external drive held a ton of downloaded music files, my wife's patterns and instructions and a bunch of my aborted or semi-finished writing projects that I had pretty much given up on ever seeing again.
After a couple weeks of wondering if I'd ever re-find that Barry White soundtrack album where he sang about taking down The Man or all the old hardcore 7"s I found off soulseek, I enacted a last-ditch effort. I froze the old hard drive.
According to the internet, freezing the drive will allow the metal to contract, giving you about 20 minutes before the metal warms and expands to transfer all your files. I didn't have anything to lose, and I figured they couldn't put it on the internet if it wasn't true, so I gave it a shot.
Then, using logic, I determined that if a hit had caused the problem, another hit of equal force should fix it. So I hit it with a screwdriver.
You know what? It works pretty OK now, although a couple files are acting funny. However, I was able to save all the word files and start making some awesome mix CDs from all the music I forgot I had - right now I'm making an awesome '80s dance mix - Cure 12"s, "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," "Egyptian Lover," "Timezone," "We are the Jonzun Crew," all the jams.
This all reinforces a basic principle of physics. If something mechanical doesn't work, just hit it.