buy a laptop hard drive enclosure (I always recommend newegg, and have had good experiences with tigerdirect) and then remove the HDD from the laptop put it in the enclosure and it works as a external hard drive.
Not sure what the problem is with the computer though. my only bit of advice would to take the battery and unplug it and hold down the power button for 10 seconds to drain static electricity and then plug it back it and replace the battery and try to start it. I've seen this fix all sorts of problems before.
I have a Compaq laptop that is around 5 years old. I really don't travel with it much at all, maybe once a year, but it is left on about 20 hours a day. When I don't use it for a while it will go to sleep and when I need to use it again I just hit the space bar and go to work.
Today I was using it most of the morning and it was working fine (not noticing anything different than usual, no problems, other than it is running a little slower than it used to but it has been for a while) I left for a while to do something else and came back, hit the space bar to wake it up and it wouldn't do anything. So, I had to force it to shut down. I waited a few seconds and then turned it back on. I believe this time it turned on and went to the desktop, so I tried to open internet explorer and it wouldn't do anything, then it shut down. After that point it started bringing up a screen that said there was a problem, what do you want to do, open in safe mode, open to the last working date, or open normally. I tried them all, none of the safe mode options would work at all. The last date one brought up a blue screen where it ran through some process, but then it wouldn't start up and then opening it normally wouldn't work either.
I've tried it several times and it still wont' go back to my desktop. If I don't do anything it just keeps restarting itself, and I eventually have to force it off.
I did try cleaning it out thinking it was maybe too dusty or something but that didn't change anything.
Do you have any suggestions for me to try?
Is there anyway for me to get my files and things off of the hardrive? I figure if the hard drive is okay there should be some way to do it, but I don't know how.
Any help and suggestions would be great I'm a little upset right now!