Sad day, everyone. I have a decade-old laptop that I've just recently upgraded the memory on, and literally just bought an SSD to replace its ancient failing HDD. The plan was to boot it up one last time and back up everything important and then do the ole swapparoo.
As the fates would have it, this just happens to be the day this hard drive has officially decided it is Done. It's been a long time coming but it would have been nice if it could just last literally one more boot before crapping out. I'm pretty sure most of the data is still intact (there wasn't anything essential on it, just a lot of nostalgia - it's basically a time capsule); I think it just finally reached a point where essential Windows installation data had become corrupted so it can't boot anymore.
Anyway whoever designed this laptop thought it would be a swell idea to make it so you have to literally remove 15 screws and take off the keyboard and casing to get to the hard drive, so i've spent this evening performing surgery. Luckily my desktop computer had a free extra power + data connection for another SATA drive so i just popped it in there. It recognizes the drive and the folder hierarchy, but took about a thousand years to grant me access permissions. (When I started writing this post I wasn't sure it would go through; I was convinced it had hanged on that step until I stepped away and drank some water and vented here and then came back and tried to click on the folder again and it let me in. Patience is a necessary virtue in this field.)
Currently very tediously copying over everything I know that I want to a safely backed-up location on this computer. Which takes forever because the source hard drive is old and on the verge of kaput. Once that's done I kind of want to clone the hard drive over to the new SSD just to see what happens. I think it'll probably be a broken mess and I'll probably have to just image a new OS but once I have backed up the data it doesn't matter too much so I might as well go for it. My color coded windows 7 sticky notes are essential.
Anyway, glad the HDD wasn't too dead to get files from, and also glad that laptop wasn't my only computer or I'd be very sorry right now.
EDIT: was able to recover all files. only bothered copying over desktop/documents/downloads/pictures/videos/etc, not app data and such (EXCEPT, of course, sticky notes.) - all safely on my good PC. currently cloning the disk to the replacement SSD, should be done in an hour which means when i wake up bc im going to sleep as it is like 1am. best case scenario i have a perfect replica of my old laptop but at actual functioning speeds, worst case scenario i just reimage and will copy the files back over to it manually. well i guess absolute worst case scenario is the laptop itself is rip but i don't think that is likely because BIOS was behaving just fine, it just had issues booting, which isn't a surprise since the HDD has been throwing a fit for the past like 5 years.
i am so glad i went into the hard drive and backed up all this, because i have a lot of very important things on it, such as a poorly recorded video of me playing Tomodachi Life and giving my Brock mii a frying pan.