I just wanted to put a little note here because I was reminded tonight of 2 very good rescue CDs that I have used in the past and I highly recommend to anyone who has a broken system (Linux, Windows, and I think even Mac).
The first and primary CD that I carry in my arsenal when I go on jobs is SystemRescueCD. This Linux distro is based on GenToo -- but fear not as there is no knowledge of GenToo required. The CD boots and detects just about any hardware you can throw at it and has a lot of VERY useful tools for recovering data and fixing stuff. The kernel has NTFS support built into it and the distro includes ntfs3g. There are also tools that rival (and maybe beat) PartitionMagic. It's also extremely handy for booting a system in a data center and letting a customer access the machine remotely (great for remote hands type services) as it includes setup scripts for networking and for starting sshd.... so you could walk even the most novice (ok, not all, I'll admit) techs. They also now have a PPC distro which theoretically will let you recover even MaxOS systems -- but I havent had the opportunity to try this yet.
You definately don't want to be without this CD if you do any kind of computer services. You'd be amazed at how handy it is.
The second CD is the same similar idea but it's based on Debian with an Ubuntu kernel. The name of this one is Kanotix. The advantage this CD has over SysRescueCD is that it allows you to apt-get applications on the fly. It also has a slightly different hardware driver selection but you'll probably find it has the majority of what you need. I'm definately a synaptics fan but this is still only my second choice for recovering systems because I think SysRescueCD definately has the streamlining down and makes quick tasks remain just that: quick tasks.
This is still something that you want to keep in your arsenal. There have been a few situations where SysRescueCD didn't cut it for me and I pulled out Kanotix and it worked fine. It's also handy if you have some advanced stuff that you need to work on since you can easily apt-get utilities that you may need.