that almost 25 years of my academic life is contained on those three laptops"
Dear me. It reminds me of the old IT joke:
Question: When is the best time to back up your data?
Answer: Just before your computer crashes.
It seems odd to me that a university professor stores 25 years of work on computers, and makes no off-machine backups whatsoever in all that time. She's paid the price, and I feel very sorry for her, but it was all so easily avoidable - at least the data loss was.