Recovering Data using Live Linux CD

In the event that your Windows OS is corrupted, non-repairable and requires a complete fresh install, data will be gone if you go through that process. If you have important data that you’re trying to save before you re-install Windows, there are tools out there that can help you do just that. This guide will cover the use of live Linux CD that can help you recover your data.
What you need

Live Linux CD, usually comes in different flavors, or in Linux world, distributions (or distro for short)

Each distribution is a little bit different than the other. However, differences are mostly visual and software based. Their core (the kernel) is usually the same across the board. People prefer one distro over another typically due to styling, package support, software availability, ease of install, etc.

Obviously, when you’re trying to recover your files, none of those things really matter. You simply want to get to your hard drive and copy the files on a safe location.

Getting the Software

In this guide, we’re going to use Ubuntu Linux for our primary example. You can use any linux OS that has Live support, although we recommend Ubuntu due to its simplicity and the extensive amount of applications.

You can download Ubuntu from the following link:

32-bit version is recommended, and for our purposes will work just fine. If you’d actually like to try the Linux OS and want to play with it, maybe you want to download 64-bit edition.

What you download will be the ISO image of the operating system. This ISO file needs to be burned onto a CD.

Instructions on how to burn the ISO image of Ubuntu can be found here:

Once the image has been burned, you will need to boot the computer from the CD. Link to nstructions how to do that is located below:

By default, Ubuntu is setup to start-up in a Live, non-installation mode. Therefore when you get your system to boot from CD, you can simple leave Ubuntu to do its thing and wait until you’re presented with the Ubuntu Desktop.

Windows users will feel familiar with this system because similar to Windows, it has a taskbar, located on top.

In order to access your hard drive you will need to go to Places button on the taskbar. When you expand places, you will see any additional drives listed, including USB flash drives and external drives. The names may be generic, usually reported by the size of the volume. For example, if your broken Windows partition was 200GB in size, you might see something like 200GB System Volume. This would be your Windows partition.

Ubuntu will recognize many methods of storage. If you’d like to transfer your files to USB flash drive or external HDD you can plug those in at any time.

The procedure of copying files is identical to Windows. Simply select folder you want to move, right click and choose copy. Right click in empty space of your USB Flash drive and choose Paste.

If your HDD did not experience any physical failures, then you should be able to copy the data without any problem. Should you experience any I/O or read errors, keep trying to recover as much data as possible. The data that cannot be recovered is probably on the sector with physical damage. The only way to get to that data is through means of sophisticated data recovery only.

Once you’ve gathered your data, you may restart your PC and load windows as originally intended.

Keep in mind that the Live version of Ubuntu comes with plenty of useful applications such as a whole Office Suite. Therefore if you need to get some basic work done and need a working computer ASAP, you can use the Live version to do things such as type up letters, create spreadsheets, modify photos and images, etc. It’s going to be somewhat slow because it’s running of the Cd, but it will get the job done when your main OS is beyond usable. For file storage, you can use the USB Flash drive that you used for data recovery.  The distro is also capable of connecting to the internet and browsing the web with Firefox, should you need to check your email quickly or download files.

If you wish to experience Linux beyond simple data recovery, stay tuned for our Dual Booting guide coming up soon, that will show you couple different ways to try Linux OS without damaging your Windows partition. New Distro’s such as Ubuntu, Mint and Fedora make it really easy to learn Linux and discover how powerful it can be.

*Disclaimer: AVADirect and its Staff are not responsible for any damage to software/hardware, loss of data or personal injury by following our How-To guides. These guides are provided only as an aid to help you troubleshoot system problems. If you do not feel comfortable performing these steps its always best to send in your system to a local repair shop or contact an appropriate technical support line for additional assistance.