How can I get data off a corrupted Sony Vaio?

I am at my wits end with this one, so points for whoever can give me a hint that will lead to an answer.

Sony Vaio ultra small (ultra irritating) laptop. Windows Me - has died and cannot get in to Windows at all (after much registry recovery and stuff it boots to a white screen (even in safe mode)). So resigned to rebuilding the machine but I need to get the users data off. And to help me I have at my disposal:

1. A machine that boots to DOS and can access HDD and FDD.
2. A PCMCIA CD drive (not CD-RW) unrecognised in DOS, and Sony's own DOS drivers won't work.
3. One USB port (that the FDD is in). I have tried DUSE USB drivers to see if I can get a USB drive recognised so I can transfer files off onto that, but recognises drive and then says 'failed to work'.
4. Have a Belkin PCMCIA 10/100 network card with DOS drivers for Netware/Lanmanager and WFW but can't remember how on earth to get Lanmanager to talk to Windows 98/2000 or XP networking.
5. Just to make this easy, the laptop has NO serial and NO parallel ports (just in case you thought LAPLINK like I did for about 20 ms).
6. There is a SONY memory stick onboard, but of course no DOS drivers.
7. Can't take the HDD out and install it in another laptop as SONY ultra-small laptop = ultra proprietry connection and impossible to reach drive.

What I need is a utility that either allows me to use the USB port with a flash drive (like DUSE but actually works), or some PCMCIA utility to get networking on the Belkin card. ANY IDEAS ANYONE????
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Have you tried any of the other DOS USB drivers here?
the easiest way would be to take the drive out of the laptop and install it in a nother system but to do that you need a special adapter cable which may be a problem
I agree with crsmbc, but further, I read your last note about proprietary connection on the hard drive.  I've seen Vaio's with standard 2.5" IDE drives, which have a proprietary connector on them, but it is actually a sort of "Adapter" connected to the hard drive via the standard 2.5 IDE standard.  You just have to remove that and get to the bare drive.  Alternatively, I think the next easiest solution would be to find another CD-Rom drive with real-mode drivers from which you can boot a CD and get in to DOS.  That still leaves you the problem of getting the data to a destination.  

If it were me, I would make up a Ghost or PowerQuest DriveImage boot disk for your network card, then dump an image of the drive to a networked machine.  At that point, you can either dump it back to a parimary master of a vacant machine and go from there, using a boot disk and second hard drive for recovering data etc, or as I would do, use the corresponding program's utility for exploring images (In Symantec Ghost, I believe it's called "Ghost Explorer" and POwerquests is called "ImageExplorer").  Both allow you to temporarily mount an image as a virtual drive and give you a windows explorer like GUI and access to all data.

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Bernie SalvaggioIT ManagerCommented:
Just reinstall windows on top of the current installation.  Don't format, just reinstall.  It won't delete any data files, just the Windows files that need to be replaced.  Then you can do whatever you need to do once it boots into windows.

Bernie SalvaggioIT ManagerCommented:
Alternatively, try booting into Knoppix (Linux on a CD), it may be able to load the USB drivers you need.

With newer versions of Knoppix they do come with USB support.  If it doesn't support the option you are after.  Then you could try using SUSE Live CD.  Or another Live Linux CD (Live Cd means boot and load off the CD for the OS).

Also if the USB drivers are not in the distro that you download/use then download the driver and add it to a floppy and run the driver to be setup when the CD it loaded.

You should fnd that something like knoppix will have USB support though in the latest version.

dr_duddAuthor Commented:
I like the boot from Linux idea (having never had a chance to try Linux) but alas the CD won't work! Sony's own DOS drivers fail to load, now this might be down to an IRQ or memory conflict somewhere, so I will put the ideas in the following order for trying when I get in to work in about an hour:

1. Different USB drivers - thought about it but didn't have a link to a reliable source
2. Norton Ghost with network card drivers - don't know why I didn't think of that!
3. Get CD drive working (somehow) and re-load Windows over the top of the current install. The VAIO comes with a set of recovery CD's but I have one of the most rare of creatures - a Windows Me REAL install CD!
4. After getting CD drivers working consider Knoppix. This is likely to be the most fun, but most time consuming, so I have to put it to the end of the list.

Thanks for everyone's help so far, will report back success/failure after work.

Yah guys...A boot CD isn't going to work when the machine can't see the CD-Rom
Bernie SalvaggioIT ManagerCommented:
He said that he doesn't have DOS drivers to load the CD drive.  That has nothing to do with booting from the CD drive.  To boot from the CD drive the BIOS needs to be configured to do so, and he mentioned nothing about that not working.

Actually, dudd, have you checked the BIOS to see if it's configured to look to PCMCIA (or wherever the CD drive is connected to) for a boot device?

dr_duddAuthor Commented:
It is weird because there is no BIOS option for booting from CD. In the boot menu it lists ATAPI CD but there is no device listed, whereas there are devices listed under 'removeable disk' and 'hard disk' as boot options.

No USB drivers would work at all, despite trying lots of variants.

Because I can't get the CD to work I can't try to re-install Windows Me over the top of the exitsing install.

My only success has been getting Ghost to get the data onto a image file on a remote machine. This took all day to configure because I had to find another machine with an Ethernet card that had a DOS NDIS driver, and a FAT32 partition. At first I thought I was on to a winner with my own PC, until I realised that the Vaio could only access my FDD because my HDD was NTFS - with not enough space free to create a FAT32 partition! Anyway I have got an image file off of the C: drive - now I have to get it onto a machine with enough disk space and running Ghost! The D: drive (just another partition of the same HDD in the Vaio) is to be done tomorrow.

So far I rate my chances of recovering the data at about 85%. But rate my chances of being able to rebuild the machine at about 40% given that I still can't get the CD to work!

Points go to FOCUSYN as the only success is with Ghost as he (or she) suggested.
You can always use Ghost again to assist in the rebuild.  Get a clean hard drive, partition it, "sys" it so it's bootable to DOS, copy/load all the install files and drivers you need, then create a ghost image of it.  Load that ghost image on to the laptop's hard drive with auto partition resize etc. Then reboot the laptop and run setup from the DOS you previously installed on it.
dr_duddAuthor Commented:
I get the point on the rebuild. Truth is I wont be sad if the machine is consigned to the bin! It has been nothing but a pain since he got it. No mouse port - so USB mouse. Only one PCMCIA slot, used for CD, network and GPRS card. No serial, no parallel. And a monitor of max vertical resolution of 480 pixels that wont run many apps that require at least 800x600. Horrid keyboard, stick mouse. YUK, YUK, YUK!

I think I'll wait until his new Dell X300 arrives and then see if he still wants to re-build it!
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