I agree with prezzy. My first thought on your drive problem was that your IDE chain wasn’t set correctly after removing the broken drive. Changing the CD from a slave to a master isn’t difficult if the drive has a sticker showing which position to put the jumper. If it doesn’t, fortunately there are usually only 3 possible positions of the jumper and of those we know the current one is wrong. All you would need to do is move the jumper over to the next pair of pins and reboot. If the CD drive shows up in the bios list of connected devices you’ve got the right one. If not, try the last jumper setting. If none of these work, then the drive may be fried. In any case, give this a try and let us know the results.
As far as using compression utilities on a hard drive, they are notorious for toasting data. Additionally, if you have a hard drive that is running out of space, that usually means it’s a couple of years old to begin with. If this is the case, you should backup all your data and buy a new one.
I know it seems like curing the headache by chopping off the head but remember, it is not a question of if a drive will fail but when. Hard drives can reasonably be expected to work reliably for about 2 to 3 years, but beyond that you are rolling the dice. I use my hard drives until they fail, BUT, I backup all my data fairly often. I have lost drives before but never lost more than 3-4 days worth of data as I backup my files every 5 days or so. You always have to ask yourself, “If my drive died right this second, how much would I lose.”
A quick note on the chimera of data recovery from a dead hard drive. When a drive dies, it can be taken to a data recovery buisiness. In the US it costs about $1000.00 per gigabyte and the whole drive must be done. So a tiny 4 gig drive will cost you $4000 even if you only used part of it. Additionally, usually about 70-80% of the data is actually recoverable from the drive. On top of that, the 70-80% is not 70 - 80 files out of 100 but 70 - 80% of any one file. Sometimes you get lucky and recover complete files but I’d rather use up my luck buying lottery tickets.