Recently the display on my old laptop (Acer Travelmate 803LCi running XP SP2) has become scrambled. It's basically impossible to navigate or read anything, including pre-boot system diagnostics. The problem also exists when connected to an external display, so it's not just an issue with the screen.
At the very least I'd like to be able to access/extract files off the hard drive - have tried connected to my desktop (Running Windows 7) via firewire and ethernet cables but can't configure anything on the laptop as I can't see the menus clearly!
If both the LCD screen and an external monitor isn't readable the best way to rescue your files and personal data is probably taking the hard drive out of the laptop case and putting it an external USB adapter. This will let you access the files on the hard drive from another PC or laptop.