My HDD is corrupted. I generally use Vista, although the only thing I can boot into now is Ubuntu LiveCD, and even that takes a long time because it spends a while spewing errors about the HDD before it finishes booting.
In Linux, gparted can see the partitions on the drive, but says there are errors with the partitions and that I should run chkdsk. Specifically there are "cluster accounting" problems. If I try to mount the drive it fails too, telling me Windows has the NTFS partition marked as in-use. I'm reluctant to force a mount, because if it doesn't work it could further damage the drive. I tried running ntfsfix too. It claims to have run successfully, but it doesn't actually help.
Beyond Linux I got my hands on an XP install disk (SP3), and tried to boot that and run chkdsk, but it doesn't recognize my HDD. That may be because the drive is too large (250GB), but the tutorials for how to work around that are way too confusing and require a working Windows machine. I have my Vista boot disks, but they only boot to a black screen.
So far my only idea is to use an external HDD enclosure to turn my HDD into a USB drive on which I can run chkdsk from another computer, but I don't want to buy an enclosure and take my computer apart if I don't have to. Is there any other way to run chkdsk? I really want to recover the data on this drive. Thanks!