Originally Posted by aaron12345
There's also a little known, but VERY usefull windows live cd (er you make it from your windows cd so there's no sticky copyright issues) take a look at BartPE.
Anyways back to the topic - check the boot device in the bios. Is the drive making noises or is the data just gone. If you hear clicking noises etc or something is physically wrong with the drive it can hang the boot of the system and your software won't work. ESPECIALLY if it is clicking, that's the drive DESTROYING itself. If you really need the data and there is physical damage everytime you boot you make it worse, get the drive to a professional data recovery place ASAP.
If it's not clicking, just try to get a SATA drive enclosure that uses USB 2.0 or FireWire, depending on your computer's capabilities. Then boot it up as a secondary drive. If you can get that far, then just transfer the files from the secondary hard drive (the bad one) to a directory on your hard drive, or burn them to CD. But like arron12345 said, if it is clicking, do not proceed with working on it, or else you won't get anything off it!!!