This is a rather recurring question from people neglecting their backup. It's rather risky to do so, as you've noticed now.
As my colleague Bob uses to say "Hard drives are temporary storage". Let me add: "External hard drives are even more temporary than internal ones." Quite a lot of posts in this forum are about failing external drives.
Two threads about this subject I answered the last 2 hours or so:
1000 bucks to save a 2 month project can be considered a bargain, don't you think? But I must admit that it's more expensive than having a second external drive or a DVD-burner with some DVD-RW disc as backup. Your choice. The positive side: it's tax-deductable as operating expenses.
I am a professional photographer and store all my shots to an external hard drive. Its a western digital 160gb hard drive.
From last 2 months I am working on a project for one of my client. Now, the hard drive has failed and I have tried every scenario for the drive to come up but no luck.
I can't even imagine to complete my project without those shots and it is very difficult to start everything again.
I am running out of time... can anyone show me a way to pull my photos/shots back.