Burn a linux live CD and boot to Ubuntu for example. Then, using an external drive, copy the files off of the drive - then you can blast it. That's just as a last resort. Actually since you are having the problems you are having, I'd still pull the files off using a live cd, just to have them as a backup - as it sounds like you don't have a backup.
Then you have the peace of mind and can continue troubleshooting - if there is any other things to try - I'm a loss at the moment - unless you are not using a windows CD or the right one - dunno.