No backup? If not, I would suggest that you get in contact with a tech at the Apple store to see if they have software you can load to view the files that are marked as deleted on that drive.
When you delete a file, or format a drive, the data is not overwritten. The "table of contents" are mearly wiped, so it appears that the drive is empty. As long as you do not try to save anything on the disk, the data should be recoverable.
If they are unable to assist you and this data is very, very important, there are companies that specialize in retrieving data, even on damaged drives.
Again, depending on how important this data is to you, you may want to skip the Apple store, and engage with a company that specializes in data recovery.
Unplug it from it's power source so that nothing else writes to it. Then you have a few choices as far as data recovery goes. Here's a good article about data recovery options that helps explains your options. I hope that helps, good luck!
Worst case? Send it to a certified data recovery firm. It will cost you (possibly as much as $1000). The actual cost will be determined whether they can access the data without disassembling the drive and using specialized equipment to read the data from the platters directly. I mention $1000 because that is what I was quoted to get back the data from a 2TB array that died when the cooling fan failed over a weekend when I was away. So, a single 500GB drive should be a LOT less than that.
No problem. Just make sure that they don't go cowboy on your drive. If it needs extensive recovery work, be sure they know when to stop and get it sent out to one of the three major labs in the US (drivesavers, gillware or ontrack). Good luck and let us all know how it turns out, I'm subscribed to this thread :)
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