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need my data before windows install

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I know, I know, should have backed up everything...but at this point, if I could save my email address, a few documents, and this past month's photos (the others are backed up) I'd be happier than you could imagine!

As of right now, when I start my laptop, I get the "windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \windows\system32\config\system" blah, blah, "select 'r' at the first screen to start repair.

However, my computer is an Acer and there is NO CD.

My son, trying to follow the microsoft directions for this repair, downloaded the needed files to a CD and guess what? It didn't work.

He even tried to use the recovery console but it will only get the point where it asks, "which windows installation would you like to log onto" and when he types in the number one, which is the only option it shows available, the computer does NOTHING!

I may be able to find a windows disk tomorrow, but is there ANY way to get to my documents, email address and photos to save them or will they be lost forever?

Also, when I boot up, is there something I else we can change/try?

Please help this 'old mom save her 'stuff'!! :)
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okay, been up all night (literally!) and have read a lot about slaving and using a USB enclosure

Since the USB enclosure 'reports' I have read seem to be the 'magic pill' I have to ask the pros here if it can really be that easy to recover/save my personal data on my unbootable hard drive?

My laptop does find the C drive but won't respond at all once we put in the chose to use the 1 : C.....

I tried using the downloaded XP disk and it won't progress past the agreement page because it doesn't recognize the license (or something to that effect).

I don't have a problem reformatting the entire drive IF >>>>>IF, I can save my personal documents, email addresses (I have a small home based business and I swear I'll quit if I have to rebuild my database!!! And yes, I DID backup a few months ago and the disk is SCRATCHED!!! YIKES! :) and my oldest just graduated from Army boot camp and those photos and my dd's first dance solo have not been backed up because I was 'working' with them just today!!!)

ANY advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated!
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puppy will load and run totally in ram...

get puppy linux...Get puppy-2.16-seamonkey-fulldrivers.iso download it and burn it to cd ...if you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files go here and get burncdcc ..a small FAST no frills iso burning program...

NOTE...do not put a blank cd in until burncdcc opens the tray for you
1. Start BurnCDCC
2. Browse to the ISO file you want to burn on cd/dvd ......in this case its puppy linux
3. Select the ISO file
4. Suggestion ==> Check the option "Fix close"
5. Click on "Start"

make sure in the bios the cd drive is the first boot device....put the cd in the cd drive..boot your computer....puppy will boot and run totally in ram...if your hardware is is good working order you will know...
after you get it running and your at the desktop...you take the puppy linux cd out and then you can use the burner to copy all yor data to cd/dvds
you can also use it to backup your data to a external usb harddrive..just have it hooked to the computer when you boot up with puppy...
quick guide for saving data...music..files on a system that will not boot using puppy Linux..

after you get to puppy desktop..
click on the drives icon...looks like a flash drive...top row..it will list all the drives connected to

your computer...

click on the red icon for the drive you want to mount...in this case its a flash drive ...puppy will

mount the drive..the drive icon turns green when its mounted...
minimize the drives mounter window..you will need it again in a few minutes..
drag the right edge of it sideways to shrink it to its narrowest size...then drag the window to the
right edge of the screen...

now click on the icon that looks like a filing cabinet (kind of yellow) on the main drive...it should
already be green..
you will see a list of all the folders on the main drive Usually your C: drive..shrink that window to

the narrowest you can..drag that window to the left side of the screen...
at this point you should have 2 windows open on your desktop..the flash drive on the right side..
go back to the folders on the C: drive...click on the documents and settings folder...then your user
name or all users..find the folders that has your data..
drag and drop the folder with the data you want to make copies of to the flash drive window...

your options are to move ..copy ect...JUST COPY..if its to big you will have to open the folder and
drag and drop individual files until the flash drive is full...(I have a 120 GB external USB drive for
big data recovery jobs and a 4 GB flash drive for the smaller jobs)..after you get the files copied to
the flash drive...
Click on the drives mounter you minimized earlier
UNMOUNT THE FLASH DRIVE by clicking on the green icon..you will once in awhile get error messages when
unmounting the drive..ignore them..when the flash drive icon turns red again its safe to remove the
flash drive..trot on over (stroll if you want to look cool) to another computer and plug in the flash

drive and copy all the data files ( I drag and drop) to the other computer..
make sure the other computer can read them...

now delete the data on the flash drive...take it back to the misbehaving computer and plug it in

again..click on the drives icon again and repeat until you have all your data transferred to the working
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