Laptop fails to boot. How can I salvage the hard drive?

Inspiron 1420 running Vista

Today, I started it up and it stopped at a black screen with only a cursor. After a couple tries it would also hang at the Windows boot animation. I ran the diagnostics (smartdrive IIRC) and it returns read errors.

So is the drive toast or can it be repaired?

If it’s toast, can I boot from a CD and get my data? For example put a Linux Live CD (Knoppix – http://www.knoppix.org ) in the optical drive.

ps weeping for my itunes
Would it be possible to just repair the OS or is this the sign of imminent failure anyways?

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