To a friend in trouble.
In short winXP doesn’t behave nice. Most likely virus. Backup and full reinstall needed. Here is my advice how to back it up using linux live distro.
1. install linux live cd to CD or better usb key
2. boot old computer using linux from step 1 — DONT install linux, just use LIVE CD to boot computer, you don’t want to rewrite you hard drive!
3. access hard disk and copy files you need to other usb key/external disk/other computer
4. never again use windows – use linux from 1 to make it permanent on that PC
5. go to 4
In principle each step might open new problems, but hopefully all will go smooth.
In more detail I recommend kubuntu live cd:
2. when rebooting you might have to change boot medium in BIOS. Press
3. open file browser (dolphin, or which ever came with the linux distro) and look for primary hard disk partitions – it should be visible on left side. Mount it (click on it) and you will be able to browse windows partition(s). You can copy files to another USB stick the same way: insert other USB device (but not remove original linux LIVE CD medium), mount it and copy files to it.
The best guide I found on the net is
Hope this helps,