You could try making a bootable Linux LiveCD which would let you boot the system and access the drive so you could copy files onto a USB flash drive or some such.
Otherwise, laptops generally don't have the internal space for a second drive, so you could potentially take it out and put it into an external enclosure designed for 2.5" or 1.8" drives.
Ultimately though, this should be a lesson in the value of regular backups. Once you get the data off the system, be sure you then immediately set about setting up some kind of system for making backups.
My daughter's 6 month old HP Pavilion dv6000 laptop won't boot (runs chkdsk, doesn't find any problems, tries to start Vista, cancels out and keeps looping the chkdsk).
Spent an hour on the phone with HP support trying everything they could think of, and nothing worked, so now they've sent recovery disks that require a complete reformat of the hard drive. Of course, she doesn't have a current backup. Her files include some photos that we'd really like to save.
1) can I make a boot disk (either from my laptop running Vista, or download one?) and boot with that so at least I can recover her files before the format/reinstall, or
2) how hard is it to take out the hard disk and put it in my laptop (also HP Pavilion, but dv9000)and backup her data, or
3) is there another solution to salvage the data?
I'm very grateful for any suggestions.