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Access Your Data From Crashed Windows OS

Access Your Data From Crashed Windows OS

Use Linux Live CD To Recover Data From Crashed Windows...

It’s inevitable that at some point in your computers life, the operating system will crash. This can cause many problems when it comes to lost data – you don’t even need to have experienced this situation to realize how frustrating it is.

But, no matter what OS you use, if your system crashes, there are a couple of things you can do to access the hard disk drive and retrieve data that may otherwise be lost trying to recover your OS – bearing mind of course, the hdd is still functional.

Option 1 – Use a Linux Live Boot Disk

Those familiar with Linux will know that there are several distributions of Linux ‘Live CDs’. These CDs are basically bootable operating systems that run, depending on the distribution, completely from the disk, a USB drive, your computer’s RAM or a small portion of a hdd.

Live CDs are open source and can be downloaded free as an ISO image to be burned as a bootable disk, or if your BIOS supports ‘boot from USB’ you can download the files and boot from a thumbdrive.

Unfortunately my BIOS does not support boot from UBS so I used a couple of different versions to make bootable CDs, Damn Small Linux (50MB) and Slax (190MB).


Linux Live Slax Boot CD

Some will offer more features than others, but as I was simply trying to access my hdd, I didn’t look too deep into what these two distributions include.

There are many more versions of the Linux Live CD, a quick web search should have you digging some up in no time. Be sure to check what features are included in the distribution, not all of them come with a GUI (Graphic User Interface). So if you don’t know command prompts, make sure your chosen release is GUI based.

To get the live CD working is pretty straight forward, you just have to make a bootable CD. Then you will need a thumbdrive or external hdd to store the files you want to copy.

  • First, find a version of the Live CD that you like and download the zip file.
  • The file will drag and drop straight into an ISO reader like PowerISO.
  • Click on the ISO image, PowerISO will then extract the image directly as a bootable image.
  • Then simply burn the CD, or write the files to a thumbdrive and you will have a bootable Linux Live OS ready to go.
  • You may need to set your BIOS to boot from CD (or USB). Getting to your computer’s BIOS can vary depending on the model of the motherboard, usually you are prompted to press Del or F2 on startup.
  • In your BIOS navigate to ‘Boot’, then ‘Boot Device Priority’
  • Then change the order of the Boot sequence accordingly.
  • Reboot your computer with the Live CD (or USB) in the drive, and Linux will boot.

Once your Linux distribution has loaded, you should be bale to access your hdd in much the same way as you previously did in Windows. Things may not look the same as before but from here you can copy all you important files to a thumbdrive or external hdd, before you reinstall XP.

Option 2 – Use Your Hard Disk Drive As External Drive

If the Linux Live CD does not work, or you feel like this option is not for you, there is another way straight forward way you can access your files. This involves opening up your computer, removing the hard disk and using an external hdd case to connect your hdd to another computer via USB.

If you don’t have an external hdd case, you can pick one up pretty cheap these days, some models are under $20.

external hdd case

External Hard Drive Disk Case

  • With your computer switched off, carefully unscrew and remove your hard disk drive.
  • Your hdd will probably be set as ‘master’, you will need to change this to slave. To do this you must correctly adjust the jumper.
  • Some hard disks come with a diagram illustrating which pins the master or slave setting is enabled. If your doesn’t, then its a good idea to jot down the original setting so you don’t forget.
  • Set the jumper to slave, this is usually done by removing the jumper connector altogether, although it’s best to check your manufactures instructions to be sure. (Remeber to reset the jumper once you have finshed.)
  • Plug everything in and power on your computer. Your drive should now show up in My Computer as an external drive. From here you should be able to copy any files you wish to keep.

Using these methods can help you recover important files that would otherwise have been lost. If neither of the options work it is likely that your hdd is corrupt and your data may be gone forever.

In this instance is best to take your hard disk to a data recover technician and see if they can retrieve your data from the broken hdd.

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One Comment

  1. I know a company who developed software ( based on the Linux boot cd concept-except it walks you through the process and even a normal person who doesn’t know anything about computers, can figure it out. All you have to do it pretty much hit enter 3 times and boom-you’ve got your data back.

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