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[ale] HDD Locked Up - Wife business pics in it!

Hi all, it has been a long time since I last posted here. Job changed, got
away from Linux servers setup and all the good stuff, mostly Windows stuff
around here. Not much time to play with it anymore due to traveling
<sobbing/choking> and the only thing left is my home gig - a couple servers
and my personal laptop <picking myself up as "she" is looking at me now>.

Windows 8.1 (Wife did not like 10). Put a Seagate 4TB drive for her pics
only maybe 2 years ago. HDD locked up unexpectedly, with no warning signs
whatsoever. Backups are done 3 x week BUT, "she" forgot to mention that it
has been failing for the past two weeks - she has been very busy ;-) - and
she has been hitting the "Cancel" button <my fault for not asking if
everything is working fine to remind her>.

For some strange reason, the OS will not boot if HDD is connected; it
crashes hard at boot and Windows offer the Repair Tools to fix it. Removing
the drive allows it to boot normally.
Recovery systems as well as Live CDs shows the HDD available but cannot
mount it and no significant error message in logs, just "cannot mount
Thinking about either a) Install OS on different PC and add the drive as
"Slave" or b) Buying a SATA2USB converter and try mounting it as an USB
device. Anything else you can suggest or is it time to throw the towel and
send it somewhere for recovery? If recovery, any places you can suggest?
In the old days, I used to tap the HDD a bit (or a lot) and would spin back
to life enough for me to mount it and get what I need off of it. Haven't
tried that yet because I do not know how these newer drives behave.
I am not yet on desperate mode but just started to remove all the cutlery
and potential harmful silverware from near me, just in case :-) .

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