I have virtually no experience with Ubuntu!

A customer has asked me to recover his data (created in Ubuntu). This on a Toshiba laptop with Win Vista dual boot. Whenever the option to boot to Ubuntu is taken then it hangs at "initranfs" and goes no further. The machine will boot into Vista safemode but is horrendously slow in normal Vista; this because of a recent power-out and overheating due to cooling fan failure (now rectified).

As a complete Ubuntu ignoramus, what I need advice on is:how can I access the files from Vista? Is it possible to cure the boot-hang at initramfs? Customer does not want to spend too much cash on this work because the laptop is going to be consigned to the scrapheap once he has his files back.

Please keep any explanation simple because I only have 24 hours in which to get my head around this!!!

Many thanks in advance.