external drive not showing up in my computer. desperate!

first off, let me apologize for the length of this post, but i am a desperate woman!

i have an external drive (WD my book) that was giving me problems (i/o error and periodically telling me i had to format it to be able to use it). I was always able to get around the problem by disconnecting and reconnecting the drive. However, I knew it was about to kick the bucket, so I bought a replacement external HD, but before I could transfer the data over, the WD stopped showing up in my computer completely. i am at a total loss as to what to do now. this drive has pictures, music, videos of my god daughter, ebooks, my clients website files...... i am pulling my hair out!

a little more background info:
i can hear the hard drive spinning, it isn't clicking or beeping or anything. it sounds like it always did.

the hard drive was giving me problems, as i mentioned above, but the problems started in earnest when i upgraded from xp to windows 7.

when i installed the new drive, and booted up my computer again, the new drive booted up faster than the old one (especially given the issues it was having), and got assigned as drive G, which was the letter the old drive used to have. that was the point at which the old drive stopped being recognized at all.

I can see it in device manager, disk management and it is listed when i click on safely remove hardware. disk management shows it as a physical drive, but not listed in the logical drive section. it says it is not initialized and has a capacity of 0.

one of the data recovery programs showed it as fat12. i can see it in the windows usb viewer.

what i've tried so far:
changing cables, changing ports on the computer, shutting down the computer and disconnecting the power cable for several minutes (as opposed to just restarting). starting up the computer and plugging in the hd a few minutes later. same results.

different computer. same results.

various data recovery and partition repair/recovery programs. some can see the drive, some can't. but none can seem to do anything with it at all.

testdisk didn't see it at all. all it saw was my c drive and the new external drive.

the most recent thing i tried was installing ubuntu. i wasn't able to actually get to the desktop, but i could get to the system settings and it said the same as it did in Windows; capacity 0. it did say that it was not partitioned.

i have been google searching for days and some of the things i have read say that i can try connecting it directly to the motherboard, but i am deahtly afraid of doing that. the last time i opened the case of a computer (to put in some extra memory), i fried the computer. i don't know what i did, but all it would do when you powered it on was beep. it is bad enough with the potential loss of the external drive, i can't afford to fry my computer.

i have downloaded various data recovery and partition repair programs and i am going to try them one by one and continue googling until i get to the bottom of it. hopefully "the bottom" will be saving my data and not reformatting. I don't mind reformatting the drive if i have to, but i would really like to get my files off of it before i do.

can someone please help? i'm desperate!

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Any way you can directly connect the drive

to your motherboard or put it in a different USB case? That's usually one of the last efforts before contacting a professional data recovery service. If you're lucky, the drive can be seen and accessed that way. If not, and freeware data recovery programs don't work, you use professional services. They can dismantle the drive if necessary and attempt recovery from the platters.

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don't screw it up; it's an easy recovery case

It sounds like your drive isn't too far gone, but you're probably on the brink of ruining it in some way if you keep messing with it.

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