Resurrecting the drive
Well, my notebook drive bit the dust. I suppose video encoding, watching a movie, with 96 tabs in firefox and 23 tabs in IE, on a hot summer's night on a black leather seat was too much heat to handle. Lappy froze, BSOD, reboot to "no device found". Removed drive and tried in another machine while holding it -- no vibration or sounds from poweron/spinup.
Does this mean that the failure is likely electrical (on the PCB board)? If it was something with the heads or platters, wouldn't I feel or hear some type of vibration? How can I be sure if it's the PCB board without taking it in to a professional?
I'm thinking that I can switch the PCB board with my brother's identical notebook drive to get my data off.
You can't really be sure until you try it, although I think you're probably on the right track.
Note that switching the circuit boards will void any warranty on both drives -- make sure your brother is okay with that (or just offer to buy a replacement if it dies under warranty).
when I had a similar problem I was told that many modern drives have a unique checksum which means they'll only recognise the original PCB, so even an identical replacement won't work.
As long as you're careful though, you've nothing to lose by trying it (other than any remaining warranty, as Tuttle pointed out).
there is also the possibility that you'll end up with 2 dead drives with no warranty.
why aren't you doing regular backups? laptops are the worst. laptop hard drives die all the time. or worse, what if it had gotten stolen?
You could also take a swing at freezing the drive then trying to save the data. This works on occassion. Place the drive in a waterproof container and stick it in the freezer for a few hours. Take it out and install it in that other machine and see if you can read it.
Like I said, this only works on occassion, so hopefully it'll work for you. :)
Note that the freezer trick works for mechanical interference from heat issues. Check the bios to see if it recognises the drive. If it does, the drive's electronics are probably okay. If the bios cannot even see the drive, then it might be an issue with the circuit board.