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If the hard drive in your computer crashes, a few phone calls to computer repair shops let you know recovering the information from the hard drive is not going to be cheap. However, there could be a cheap data recovery method you can try.Take the failed hard drive to a local college that offers computer repair and maintenance or computer programming courses. Sometimes, computer classes are looking for "projects" so students can get hands on training, and your need to save data from your failed hard drive could be retrieved for free in exchange for students doing the work. Or, if you want to take a more professional approach, place an ad in the school newspaper seeking someone to retrieve data from a failed hard drive. Be sure to include the type of hard drive (internal, external, flash, etc.). Of course, the most important thing you can do is perform frequent backups of your hard drives. This can keep you from having to either pay a huge amount to a professional, or place your data in the hands of an amateur.