I am working on a computer that needs some work done it, but without clean wipe without recovering a few copies of doctoral dissertation (already talked to them about multiple storage locations). A boot off of a Windows 7 disc into repair mode does not work, which is a new one for me, it hangs for hours. So, I want to make a USB drive that is bootable, and allows a user to work off a command line, find a few files, and copy them over to the USB drive. And then allow some disk fix tools to run to check for bad sectors, etc. I am not well versed in Linux at all (never had the need or desire), but I was excellent at DOS 3, 5, and 6.xx. What would be a good tool that I can load up to a USB drive and hopefully salvage this work.
If I still had my desktop, I would simply plop it into there, and work like that, but alas, I don't have that option.