Lifeboat sets up a one-way network connection to a working computer. Once you boot the malfunctioning machine to the Lifeboat CD or floppy and follow the simple instructions, you can use another machine on the network to drag files off the drive. To protect you from accidentally destroying your data, Lifeboat prevents you from changing or deleting any of the files on the source drive.
If you don’t have a network, Lifeboat will help you set one up, so all you need is a working computer and a cable. (Tugboat Enterprises is considering shipping the Lifeboat CD with the appropriate cables.)
At $99, Lifeboat is a lot cheaper than a drive recovery service. Many file recovery utilities can actually make data recovery harder for professionals, but Lifeboat doesn’t let you change anything on your drive, so even if it doesn’t work, you won’t make things worse by using it. (And boy, do I wish I’d had a copy of it last November.)
And keep an eye on Kickstartnews—I’m going to be writing reviews for them myself.