Couldn't agree more, Ken - Linux Live CDs (Ubuntu, Mint etc.) can be lifesavers.
You can then work on fixing the drive at your leisure, or just reinstall, unless the
drive has had it.
Tried Spinrite 15 months ago, on a failed disk; after running it for 3 days, I gave up
and had my money back - the guarantee is 100%. You're right, it can sometimes
do more harm to run these programs, but on the other hand, you cannot ignore
the testimonials of the lucky few.
(Got the data off the failed disk, by putting it into an external cage - didn't need
recovery software, I was also ignorant of Linux at that point).
As you have mentioned Steve Gibson, his site has some excellent free programs
and it is useful for checking your computer's security (Shields Up!, etc.)
Would you consider 'system restore in safe mode from the command prompt'
an option on this occasion? (F8 on reboot)http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixtheproble...emrestorecp.htm
Edited by petewills , 04 December 2009 - 11:23 AM.