Updated May 26th, 2016.
Another hard drive bit the dust this week. This one was in a three year old MacBook. Fortunately, the machine had been backed up regularly using Time Machine. When the hard drive died we replaced it with a new one, started up from a Snow Leopard DVD, connected the backup drive, and copied everything from the backup to the new drive. It took about an hour to get the old drive out, the new drive in, and to set up the transfer from the backup, and another hour to actually do the transfer (giving us the opportunity to go for pastrami sandwiches). Without the backup we would have had to send the drive out for data recovery, leading to a big bill and several days of being without the machine. We probably would not have gone for pastrami sandwiches. With the backup, it was no big deal.
I hope you’re getting the message: hard drives eventually wear out. If yours hasn’t yet, consider yourself lucky, but get an external disk and back your stuff up anyway. If you have questions about how to do it click this link and read all about it. If you’re still stuck send me an email.