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What tools can I use to recover files from an old harddrive?

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – I found an old hard drive of mine yesterday and found that it fits into my current laptop. When I started it up, however, it got to the Win XP loading screen and then restarted. Then I thought, if I run some Linux distro off a flash drive, then maybe I could browse the hard drive somehow and recover as many files as I can. I think there exists some program that reads raw data off damaged drives and then pulls out all the undamaged files that it can. If this program exists, what is it called and where can I find it? Or is there a Linux distro designed for this purpose? I'm sure I cou (HowTos)