Hello, I have a Dell Studio 14z and after failed repair of my laptop that wouldn't let me even get to a log in screen, I decided I want to wipe out my current operating system and download a prior version.
Now the question is how to back up my data before doing so..
Download and burn a .iso for a linux LiveCD. Boot from it, mount your drive and copy through a network connection to another PC. (assuming you have one available)
Most of the major linux distributions, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc have livecd's that you can boot from. You don't NEED a rescue oriented CD, but they have utilities installed on them to aid in repair / recovery and may be useful to have if needed.