I have determined that my computer has a virus which is preventing Windows XP Pro from starting up. To rid this problem i was going to format my HDD and start a fresh, but before i do this i want to extract some irreplacable files from my HDD.

Is there any way i can get these files off when i can't get into windows? Or alternatively, if anyone has another solution to fix the virus, any suggestion would be greatly appreciated:)

You should post in the virus's and nasties section to try to get rid of the virus before taking any other measures.... if those guys deem you doomed, you may want to take a look into "knoppix" (or any of the variations, such as PHLAK or STD) which is a bootable Unix OS From A CD. You put the CD in, boot to it, and it loads your system up with a unix envrionment. Knoppix can usually mount and read an NTFS (and certainly FAT) file system. Then you should be able to upload your data to a server, or if you have a floppy (assuming your data will fit) or a USB drive you can save it there.