I've got a Toshiba Satellite (unknown model number but bought early 2010) running Windows Vista which throws a kernel error on boot. We don't have the restore/recovery CD any more to restore the Windows partition.
I have managed to boot to a Live CD version of Ubuntu 10.10 and have mounted the internal hard drive (which takes nearly 8 minutes). I suspect that the hard drive is malfunctioning, however, because copy tasks of even 30 megs of data to an attached and mounted USB flash drive takes over an hour, and some files are mysteriously inaccessible (not a permissions issue). When browsing folders, it takes many minutes to populate the folder window even with a single tiny file. During the copy tasks, the hard disk sounds like it tries to sleep several times in rapid succession, then continues accessing, it sounds, at full throughput.
I initially tried using
scp (from the shell) to copy data but I encountered the same local problems. I don't know the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard disk, either.
Is there a more effective way of going about recovering the data on the internal disk, assuming that I can't use a recovery CD and am too cheap to bring it in (for now, at least)?
EDIT: I'm sorry that I had to pick a single answer. For those reading this as an archive, they're all good, so take all the advice you can from them. Thanks!