Puppy Linux is an ideal choice for your purpose. There are several versions of Puppy being developed and released concurrently, but at the moment Slacko Puppy
seems to be the "flagship" version and I have found it to be excellent. Lucid Puppy
is excellent also, and if you might wish to take a closer look at that troublesome hard drive with some tools you can use from Linux, I would suggest that you go with the Lucid version. However, you always have the option to download/create another LIVE CD later if you need it for trouble-shooting your hardware/Windows system.
You may find the following guide useful: Recover files from Windows Vista hard disk using Puppy Linux
Any questions, please go ahead and ask. I am sure you will find Puppy to be a very enjoyable (as well as useful) experience. Have fun.Edited to add:
Puppy has the great advantage of a "Save on Exit" feature that provides persistence from one use to the next by saving all changes to a file in the location of your choosing. It will enable you to save any changes (programs, settings and files) that you might make to the system so that when you boot to Puppy the next time, it will be just as it was the last time you used it.Note: Do NOT save this file to the problematic hard drive!
Instead, plug in a flashdrive and save to that.
- When you boot to Puppy, then make sure you have the flashdrive plugged in if you wish to use that saved file.
Edited by AustrAlien, 20 October 2012 - 05:23 AM.