XP usb boot selected boot device is not available

Hello, My Dell XPS 420 is not booting. BootIt shows everything to be ok and can see files but says some may be corrupted.
I put the latest copy of Ubuntu on a usb thumb drive, following the directions exactly. Hoping Ubuntu can see my files so I can save some of them.
I made my usb device my bootable drive and restarted the computer. All I got was the screen that offers various safe mode options. Ubuntu was a no show. Rebooted and hit F12 to see the boot sequence. USB device is first and selected but when I hit enter, I get the message, "SELECTED BOOT DEVICE NOT AVAILABLE". I moved it to another usb port. Same message. I know it's a working usb thumb drive. I know both usb ports work. Using Ubuntu is my last option (that I know) to see my files. Anyone have a suggestion as to why my usb boot device is not available?
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More about boot selected boot device available
  1. have you tried to boot of a CD/DVD?
  2. Yes, I finally tried a CD version and Ubuntu was able to see my files. I booted with the Ubuntu CD about 6 times and now it won't boot my computer anymore. I get as far as choosing to run from the cd or install. I choose to run from the cd and nothing happens. I REALLY need to get to that drive to back up some files and then I'll install a new drive and Win 7. I've got this ordered from Amazon.
    Will connect my ailing XP drive to my Win 7 laptop in hopes that I can run chkdsk and fix the drive.
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