Unfortunately, portabuntu does not play well with Win7 ... tends to reboot the system. I use it quite a bit when in WinXP ... some things just work better ... but have not, to date, been able to make it work with Win7. Don't know if it's Ubuntu, the portability port, or some of the stuff that's auto-loading ... just haven't had time to do a serious investigation.
However, even if it did run, Windows would still be running - and protecting me by hiding files it doesn't think I should see/access, i.e., mess with. I like protection as much as the next guy, but I don't want a bullet-proof - ?!? - vest that automatically wraps around me as soon as I get out of bed and doesn't come off until I'm asleep, ya know?
Anyway, that's why I mentioned using a Live CD ... that way nothing - or so I hope - on the partition in question will be active <chortle />.
Actually, XP is on the C: partition, several different flavours of Linux on the next few partitions, several card readers on the next few, and Win7 is on the O: partition, with L:, M:, and N: reserved for storage & boot images, along with a 2G USB as the P: drive for ReadyBoost(?) partition.
To my way of thinking, it's highly unlikely that Windows is smart enough to completely hide files from an unknown OS on a non-typical disk segment. Speaking of which, it could be interesting to see what's on that thumb drive <chuckle />.
Oh, well, that's all for the future ... right now I have to resolve a PHP issue - different thread.