With something as valuable as a year long thesis, you should be able to use the backup that you saved to a DVD/CD or flash drive? If not, I'm sorry as hard drives will ALL eventually fail to work. Hopefully that's not the case here.
In your case, make sure that your external hard disk case is able to function correctly with the smaller laptop hard drive.. In addition, what type of computer operating system did you plug the USB drive into? Be sure to try it on an XP computer which has better support for USB> Make sure to plug the USB cable into a USB port on the BACK of the computer. (USB ports on the front of a computer frequently don't work as well.) Did you try plugging the USB cable into a USB hub? It can frequently allow it to work correctly.
And if all else fails, there are professionals that might be able to extract the data from your dead hard drive. See the link below:
Hope this helps.
Recently I accidentally spilled coffee into my laptop then as you all might have guessed it died. I quickly took the Hard Disk out since it contains my thesis in there; I tried to plug in into my external hard-disk case and treated as an external hard-disk so then I could copy my thesis materials and reports out.
When I plugged it in, I heard that the hard disk was running (spinning and so on) however, the hard-disk was not being recognized by windows nor linux. Is there any other method to recover my data inside my hard-disk?
Its got my one year of research in there.
Any help appreciated...