Seen this recommended so thought I would try it out. Not as straight forward as I thought, so here's a guide for eejits (like me!) If you have a spare 1/2 hour try it for size and highlight any deficiencies...
Idiot’s guide to recover Windows files from non functioning Windows 7 drive using Ubuntu
1. USB flash drive/ SD card etc. with min 1Gb capacity, formatted FAT32 to mount Ubuntu Desktop. (NTFS won’t work)
2. External HDD/Flash Drive/SD card with enough capacity to store files to be recovered.
1. Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop
Choose your Flavour 32 or 64 bit and ‘Start Download’
Choose ‘Save As’ at the bottom of your screen save the download somewhere easy to find, like Desktop.
Click ‘ Download UNETBOOTIN now’
Ignore dire warnings and choose ‘Actions’ then ‘More Options’ and ‘Run Anyway’
The Unetbootin Screen should appear.
Select the Ubuntu ISO by clicking on the button with three dots and pointing to wherever you downloaded it.
Select the drive you want to use and ‘OK’
Once installed you will be invited to reboot your machine. This could be useful to test the installation, but not necessary, as you will be using it to boot on the failed PC. Remember to change boot options to include USB
Run Ubuntu Desktop
1. Insert your USB device into problem PC, as well as your External Backup.
2. Change Boot priority to include USB
3. On Installation Screen Choose ‘Try Ubuntu without installing.’
4. Select Home Folder, top left 3 down.
5. The drives on the PC will be shown as Devices and ordered by size if more than one.
6. Open the drive where your data is stored, select folder(s) to be rescued by Rt click, and ‘Send To’
7. Send as ‘Removable Disks and Shares’
8. Choose your External Drive to Send To.