Is there any way to retrieve my files? I took my computer to a local computer store and he looked at it and said that it would cost $200 - $230 to replace the hard drive and it would probably be cheaper to purchase a new computer (I got a Gateway 15.6" 4 GB Memory 500 GB HDD for $259.) I asked the technician at the computer store if he could retrieve my files and he told me probably yes but after he looked at it, he said he couldn't. He said the drives were locked. Is there any way to retrieve them without going to a professional "retrieval" company that would cost "lot" of money?
I'm not sure exactly what he means by the drive being "locked" but as long as the system will recognize the drive at the BIOS level, there is always a chance to retrieve the data. The retrieval will have to be done using another working machine, however.
I'm assuming you're using a Windows-based operating system. If not, these comments may not apply.
Try first of all installing the drive in another machine, a desktop unit is easiest to work with. With the problem drive as a secondary drive, try booting up the system and see if the data can be read on the old drive. If not, there are utilities available from companies such as Minitool that will recover most data. You may have to spring for $60 or so for a full-version of the software if you need to retrieve more than 1GB of data.
If you need further details or assistance, let me know and I'll help you as best I can. I've done a lot of these over the years.