The boot sector may be damaged but you may be able to read it if it's installed in an external USB enclosure. If it cannot be read, it's probably a door stop.
I have this one http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817121005
I am trying to help a friend recover her computer or at least her files. The computer is a Dell laptop running XP Home Edition. It appears to have both a fan/temperature issue and a hard drive issue. It was saying there was no internal hard drive. Then after completely cooling, it ran chkdsk and found 156 errors. After this it would not boot. It would display the Windows XP logo and then blue screen with a fatal error. I then booted XP from CD and went to the recovery console. Of course, that command prompt denies access to nonsystem directories. At this point my primary concern is saving her pictures and documents.
I then booted XP and tried to repair the installation from setup. It said first that it had to repair the hard drive, and rebooted. Now it consistently gets as far as when it says 25 minutes left and then hangs infinitely. Or more precisely hangs until it overheats. The harddrive also makes loud clicking noises.
I don't think it makes financial sense to repair the fan and hard drive since it is an older laptop. My friend is willing to buy a new laptop. She just wants me to recover her files. I thought I could do this from the recovery console, but access is denied. What is the simplest way to accomplish this?