I have had good success in the past by removing the hard disk from the PC and connecting it into a HD USB caddy.
Use or borrow another PC or laptop, connect the caddy and see if you can read the data off the disk when connected this way.
I have also had success when trying to get data of a disk by connecting the USB caddy to a Linux PC or laptop. The disk was completely unrecognosed by windows, but Linux saw it and I was able to get *all" the files off of the failed disk.
A friend of mine had a similar thing happen and he called a PC tech to come and have a look. £150 call out plus an hourly rate and he did what I would have done.
I know this is quite old, but for future info There is a program from a company called Convar called PC Inspector File Recover. It's free and as such not one of the best products around but it does work some of the time. Just remember not to recover your files to the same drive they were on in the first place.
However, there are a few approaches that can be taken.
It sounds like you had a crash when windows was saving to disk. Which depending on where it was writing may cause many differing problems. You may not be able to see the hard drive at all, or you can read some of the operating system so windows/linux only reads upto a certain point and stops the system with an error.
If you are OK with computers and feel confident enough, you could remove the hard drive yourself and attach it to another computer. If you go to a filehippo, or similar file sharing site you'll find a few very good free file/system recovery programs. The one I like using the most is one called Recuva, which can recover lots of data.
If it's a more serious problem and this program can't see or recover any files at all. Then you may have to use something more drastic, like CheckDisk (within the command prompt) or Dead disk doctor. The most likely possibilty if the drive turned off quickly was the computer wrote over the boot sector, this can be easily remedied, and discovered with the checkdisk or similar program.
Then there's taking the whole computer to the professionals to deal with if you don't want the hassle of going through hours of analysis of your hard drive.
DIY how to tutorial projects and guides - Did you know we have a DIY Projects section? Well, if no, then we certainly do! Within this area of our site have literally hundreds of how-to guides and tutorials that cover a huge range of home improvement tasks. Each page also comes with pictures and a video to make completing those jobs even easier!