How-To Geek

Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer

If you’ve ever asked for help with your Windows computer that won’t boot anymore, you’ve probably been told to “Backup all your data and then reinstall”… but if you can’t boot, how can you get to your data? That’s the question we’ll be answering today.

One of the easiest methods to access your data is to simply boot off an Ubuntu Live CD… and it’s completely free (except for the cost of a blank cd).

Burn an Ubuntu Live CD

If you have another computer, you can download and burn the Ubuntu Live CD using a very simple application called ImgBurn. Otherwise, you can bug one of your friends to help you burn a copy.

Just open up ImgBurn, and click the icon to “Write image file to disc”


Then click on the icon next to “Source”, pick the downloaded ISO file, stick a recordable CD into the drive, and click burn.


Now that you have the boot cd (which you should keep in a safe place, as it’s very useful), just stick it in the drive of the computer and boot from it. You should see an option to “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”.


Once the system has started up, the first thing you want to do is choose Places \ Computer from the menu.


This should show you all the drives available in the system, including your Windows drive. In my case, that is the 52.4 GB volume.


You can try and double-click on the drive to open it… and if it immediately works then lucky you! Most of the time it’s going to give you an error saying “Unable to mount the volume”, because Windows didn’t shut it down cleanly.


Click the Details link so that you can see the full message, and leave this window open. You’ll see a “Choice 2” in the message, which includes the commands to force Ubuntu to use that drive even though there’s something wrong.


What you’ll want to do is open a new Terminal from Applications \  Accessories \ Terminal on the top menu. Once you’ve done that, then you’ll want to type in a bunch of commands, which I’ll walk you through.

First, we’ll want to switch to “administrator” mode, which in Linux terms is known as “root”. The simplest way to do it is with this command:

sudo /bin/bash

Now we’ll need to create a directory that we’ll mount the drive on. The full explanation of mounting drives is a little complex, so just run this command:

mkdir /media/disk

Now comes the tricky part. You’ll need to type out a command very similar to this one, but you’ll need to replace /dev/sda1 with what you see in that message box we showed you above. This command tells Ubuntu to use the ntfs-3g driver, and force mount even if there is a problem.

mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sda1 /media/disk -o force

If your drive is FAT32 instead of NTFS, then you can use the following command instead:

mount -t vfat -o umask=000 /dev/sda1 /media/disk


If you are having problems figuring out whether you have NTFS or FAT32, and you can’t figure out which /dev/whatever to use, then type in the following command at your prompt (make sure you already ran the command to run things as root)

fdisk -l

In the output you should see a lot more information about the available drives… you can see in this example that the filesystem type is NTFS and the device name is /dev/sda1.


At this point, you should be able to access your hard drive through the icon in Computer.


Note: If you have more than one drive in the computer, or more than one partition, they should show up separately in Computer. You should perform the same steps as above to open those drives up as well.

Backing Up to External USB

The absolute simplest thing to do at this point is to plug in an external USB drive, which should place an icon on the Ubuntu desktop, and most likely immediately pop up a nautilus window showing the contents of the drive.


Note: I plugged in a USB Flash drive for illustration… it would be better to plug in a full external USB drive so you’ll have more space for backups.

What Should I Backup?

If you aren’t extremely technical, you might be wondering what on earth you should be backing up… and that’s a very good question.

1) Best Method

If you have loads of empty space on your external drive or network share, you should simply backup the entire contents of the drive, and sort through it later. It’ll take a little longer, but at least that way you can be sure everything has been backed up.

2) Still Good

You should try and backup your entire user folder… on XP you’ll go to “Documents and Settings”, and on Vista you’ll go to “Users”, and you should see your username in the list:


You can simply copy this entire folder to your backup drive, which should contain your music, documents, bookmarks, and most of your important files.

Important Note: This will not backup your application files, and you should look around your drive and see if you’ve saved anything important somewhere else. This is especially true if you have more than one drive. Again, your best bet is to simply backup everything.

Backing Up to Network Share

If you would rather backup your drive to a network share on another computer, you can use the Places \ Connect to Server item on the menu.


Change the Service type menu to “Windows share”…


And then enter in the details for your network drive, with these being the required fields:

  • Server: Computer Name
  • Share: Shared Folder Name
  • User Name: your username


Once you click the Connect button, you’ll be prompted to enter in your password. Typically you can leave Domain set to the default, but if you have a custom workgroup name you should enter that instead. I also chose the “Remember password until you logout” button just so I won’t have to enter the password again.


Once you click the Connect button you should have an icon on the desktop for your network share.


Now you can open up the network share, and if everything is setup correctly on the shared folder side of things, you can copy all of your files across the network using the instructions above on which files to choose.


At this point you should have a backup of your data. If you backed up to an external hard drive, you might want to consider also copying those files to another computer just in case, and if you copied across the network you could consider backing that up elsewhere as well.

Now you can proceed with reinstalling or whatever else you’d like to do. If you are having issues, be sure to leave them on our forum.

Download Ubuntu Live CD

Download ImgBurn from Ninite

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Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/13/08

Comments (337)

  1. sjac

    Wow, not only a great article, but just when i needed it! My mum’s computer just died and i thought, “i wonder if HTG has anything?”

  2. SuAlfons


    Now that Linux saved your windows a** so fine, you might also consider to give it a share on your computer when you reinstall it anyway ;-).

    For me, Linux works 99% of my tasks (in Germany, making a tax report is a big thing, there seems to be no other than Windows software for it), so I started using Ubuntu on a regular basis.

    I only boot up windows for 1.) itunes (there are alternatives in Linux, but I like iTunes), 2.) Premiere Elements (I paid for that software, so I’ gonna use it ;-) and once a year for the tax report thing ….

    Surfing, photo handling, even some old DOS games that do not work on XP anymore do run fine.

    The hardest thing is to decide which Linux to use….


  3. abhishek

    great tip..will recommend this article to some of my needy friends.

  4. fortmunir

    thanks for the tutorial

  5. TC

    Good article. I’m a windows-only user, but I easily managed to dl the ISO file, burn it to CD, then boot from it. A suggestion: update the article to remind the user that he might need to make a bios change to get the pc to boot from a cd.

    One question: while it booted, there was lots of action from the hard disk light. I definitely selected the option to run directly from CD. So why does the live cd seem to be reading or writing the hd?

  6. The Geek


    You make a very good point, I should add that to the article.

    On some computers, the light is not just for hard drive, but for any drive… that would be my guess. Otherwise, I assume that the live cd is reading from the hard drive to detect all the partitions, etc.

  7. Duane

    To be fair it can save you when a Linux machine dies as well. My wife’s laptop (mostly used for email reading) wouldn’t boot anymore, and believe it or not I was actually able to put the “Does freezing a hard drive bring it back from the dead?” question to the test.

    Yes, it does! I used my live boot CD to get my own Windows machine (work laptop) into Linux, then used a USB connection to access her cold but alive drive long enough to get her files off. Windows by itself would still not access the drive, but Linux had no problems.

  8. Lighthouse

    Excellent article The Geek. I think everyone should have this CD in their collection, JUST IN CASE.

  9. Thomas

    I had this problem last week-ened !!!!!!!!!!
    I tried to backup files in my Windows HDD but couldn’t as I couldn’t mount it, so I’ve formattedthe HDD and reinstalled Windows.

    if only this tip would have been posted last week ;-)

    anyway thanks, i’ll keep it handy…. we never know

  10. Bob

    I love ubuntu, but would something like puppy linux not be equally suited to this use? smaller to download and quicker to boot.

  11. Gary P

    Great suggestion, you also could use Puppy Linux, must smaller distro only 98mb, or Mepis to do the same thing.

  12. The Geek


    You are absolutely right, there are a ton of Linux distros and almost any of them would work.

    I chose Ubuntu for the article since it’s the most widely known, and there’s a lot more support online for it than any other distro. I figure the people reading/using this article are likely to be Windows users, so Ubuntu would be the simplest solution for them that “just works” out of the box. The point isn’t to promote Ubuntu as much as it is to solve the problem =)

  13. Chris

    Another cool thing about Ubuntu 8.04 is that it can be installed in Windows without the need to repartition the HDD. I have now set up my system to dual-boot into Vista or Ubuntu using this install method.

  14. Mark Schneider

    I always new it could be done, but I had never had too… yet.
    Thanks for another awesome “how to”

  15. Daniel Spiewak

    Fantastic article! I’ve been using this technique for a long time to recover and repair computers broken through Windows’s incompetence. Actually, I use a Gentoo LiveCD most often, but Ubuntu is rapidly becoming easier and more capable for this stuff, given the facility to install drivers as necessary.

  16. offhermeds

    Excellent! How about some steps for restoring a Windows hard disk from these backed-up files?

  17. LA

    Very interesting, and highly useful. But the generally recommended way to get a root shell is “sudo -i” and not “sudo /bin/bash” (or any of the myriad other ways to get a root shell)

  18. The Geek


    There are simply too many methods for starting a root shell… I’ve just always used that one since it ensures that I’m using bash. The point is that it works =)

  19. The Geek


    That’s not a bad idea, I might consider writing something about that… seems like there are a lot more guides on how to back things up then there are for restoring them…

  20. Jake

    For those recommending Puppy, you have to take into account that Puppy will not easily work with some monitors, USB keyboards, and so forth. Ubuntu has much better hardware support. For a lot of users (most users probably) Puppy and similar distros will be fine, but Ubuntu will work for a higher percentage of people.

  21. Binny V A

    I would recommend using Knopixx for this.

  22. Christopher

    Actually, that is the last thing that you should do: re-install Windows in a fresh installation. You should actually use the Windows XP or Vista repair thing to fix the problems that are keeping Windows from starting.
    Thus far, I have wrecked my system 3 times with my own stupidity since I got a Windows Vista computer, and every time that Repair Boot choice that appears when you use the XP or Vista disc to boot your system.
    There is very rarely an occasion where I totally have to wipe someone’s computer in order to fix it anymore…. in fact, I’ve never had to do that unless the person in question told me “I have a very recent backup” and they wanted me to do that.

  23. rainman

    This is a great article , thanks a lot

  24. 1213

    This works and is a great tip!

  25. Rafael

    This is great. Thanx ten to the 6! BTW you should consider writing a how to book for Window users that want to switch to Linux Ubuntu because you know Windows and Linux and your explanations are cristal to us dumb windows users :)

    Example: First, we’ll want to switch to “administrator” mode, which in Linux terms is known as “root”.

    This I can understand

  26. wordy

    Couldn’t you have written this 3 days ago? I feel so unlucky. Thanks for the article though, i am sure it will come handy in the future. lol

  27. Mystic

    I thought of this too when my dad’s computer died.

    However, on the live CD, it doesn’t see either drive. Not that they can’t be mounted, but they just can’t be seen. Windows can’t even boot. What’s up? Anyone have any ideas?

  28. TC

    @The Geek: (“On some computers, the [hard disk access] light is not just for hard drive, but for any drive… that would be my guess [why the hard disk light flashes while the live CD is loading].”)

    You’re right. My laptop manual says that the light is for “hard disk access”. However, I now notice that it flashes in exact synchronization with the CD drive light, which is on the side of the laptop where I don’t normally see it.

  29. Player911

    Between using WINE and a full blown Windows Virtual PC… the dependence on Windows is almost completely disappeared. WINE allows me to finally get rid of my windows partition.

  30. Merr

    Ubuntu is the best os and i have it on my laptop but im a gamer so i have windows on my desktop.
    And I will try the live cd thing to back up files next time my pc dies :P

  31. SH

    Great article, thanks!
    It realy came in handy when my parents laptop refused to boot and went BSOD on me.

  32. leonardo

    I download the iso of ubuntu, but isnt the option “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”….my iso is this Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition – Supported to 2011…why I not see that option???

    Thank you for your help……

  33. Thomas

    Hi great article easy to understand. But I have a problem.

    Im trying to recover files from a chrashed xp home pc. But when I run ubuntu live and click the “computer folder”, there are no icons for the hard disk. just for my dvd drive and 2 usb drives. Does anyone have an idea on how to make them visible?

    The pc has 2 sata disks and they are setup in a raid,

  34. nikujin

    I followed the instructions exactly as written but when I booted from the CD rom I got a box saying I/O error when I click try Ubuntu without any changes. It said Error reading boot CD. I burned the disc several times so I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Does anyone have suggestions as to what I need to do?

  35. Chris


    Try burning the ISO file at the lowest possible speed. I had issues with my Live CD burned from an ISO, until a kind soul on LinuxForums suggested I try a slow burn speed.

  36. Alex

    You are my life saver.Thanks!!!

  37. rrrrray

    My sister’s Windows on her laptop just died today. This is super helpful. Thanks

  38. Nikki

    Thank you so much for this! I have known of people to use Ubuntu before to save their files, but I had never heard of the “unable to mount” notification. This helped me really understand that message and how to fix it! My computer recently gave me the “system32\config\system file is corrupt or missing”, and I have so many files on my computer I didn’t want to lose.

    So again, Thank you for your extremely helpful article!

  39. Junior in Jamaica

    Hi there,

    I thought to do this exact thing. I am waiting for my external hard drive to arrive. For now am running the LiveCD…a bit tedious since I have to be loading all the add ons I need each time. Am a little skeptical about partitioning from the LiveCD and messing with my Windows files (unbacked up). So I’ll do with it for now. I also tried installing from the CD straight as I did before…but the guided option to use what size of the partition is not available and all I see if the option to use it all (format my entire drive) so I canceled.

    My big issue here is…over the years I have added quite a bit of things to my PC. I know where to backup the usual suspects such as my User folder in vista, the items on my desktop, C: that I saved, IE favorites. But what I don’t know is how do I backup or find a list of my Firefox add ons (themes, extensions) and bookmarks from within Ubuntu while accessing my hard drove? Also…what about my Opera bookmarks and skins? And lastly…how do I backup my Outlook 2007 also from Ubuntu?

    That is pretty much all I don’t know how to…I can also use the Programs folder to get a list of the programs I have installed…but is there yet another way to get a list from Ubuntu also? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am so close…I just want to seal the deal.

    Thanks again.

  40. KAGS

    This is Cool, awesome. Booting up a dead harddisk in my opinion is a headache, thanks a lot.

  41. Gerard

    Thank you very much for a well written article and it was perfect for retrieving data I thought was gone gone gone after the BSOD. Linux looks pretty good as a reasult I’m a convert!

    Thanks again

  42. JC

    Thanks a lot for the valuable info. It was a life saver!

  43. ananta

    i did the exact same thing little ago, yesterday I encountered a problem. I can not see any drive while booting from ubuntu. XP is crashed. but I know, there is hard drive. on computer, it only shows filesystem.

    also, I have admin password in XP, but I believe that as the OS is different, that does not effect and Drive should be visible.

    why it happened , any idea??

  44. TP

    I very successfully recommended this to my step-daughter to rescue files off a disk from a dead XP system that couldn’t be accessed when installed as a second disk in the new computer she got.

    The thing I advised her to do – which I would strongly advise you to recommend in your article – was to make sure any files copied to her USB flash drive were virus checked before she copied them to the new computer. After all, one of the reasons Windows systems get corrupted and won’t work is down to virus infections.

  45. fernando

    is it posible to burn a back up dvd with ubuntu? Thank you for this article! saved my life!

  46. Mick Barker Sr.

    Nice workups on how to revive Data, kudos my Friend.

  47. Mikey

    Hello, thanks for such a nice article.

    My Windows Xp crash nearley, and I booted from an ubuntu live cd.
    Than I connected an externel hard disk to copy windows files (under my documents and settings)
    but when i try to copy, I get the message that i dont have the permission to copy, so I dont know what to do.
    Could anyone help plz?

  48. Rich

    ya u can do that but, if you have BART PE you can do the same thing and CHKDSK and fix the drive and even turn off Services and problematic drivers!! And start the PC up!!!

  49. George

    I’m using this same setup to grab all the user data off a broken Vista laptop (won’t run or re-install) and scp (read “copy” if you are a non-techie) the files to another server. The laptop is relatively new, 1.6Ghz dual-core, 1GB of RAM, etc. The system seems to spend a lot of time waiting for the ntfs-3g module (system load is very low, wait very high) then performs several reads/writes fast, then back to wait for a couple minutes. Any suggested tweaking to improve file transfer performance (I already switched from wireless to wired and from rsync to scp (was taking forever to build file list)). I’m almost done with this PC, but am looking for better performance next time. Something like half the network media speed instead of 1% or slower. It’s Gutsy Gibbon, by the way. Functionally excellent, but slow.

  50. tugger

    I run a home PC repair business and have been using ubuntu for exactly this kind of fix for a couple of years now.

    For a laptop I use the ubuntu cd, and actually I don’t use the terminal to sort the ntfs issue, I simply go to the add/remove programs and type ntfs in the search (all software) and it does the download and install for me. This saves alot of buggering about.
    I have a fat32 hard drive to back up onto, this appears on the ubuntu desktop, so the whole thing is drag-and-drop.

    For a desktop I simply connect a usb hard drive connector to the back of the ide or sata drive and plug it into my macbook, and boing, the hard drive appears on my desktop. It takes about 30 secs which includes taking the side off the desktop.


  51. Grub

    I always backup important pr0n files to and fro between machines on my LAN, then when Windows gets cruddy I just wipe the drive, reinstall an OS, and copy the files back again over the network.

  52. freddy

    Seems to be a bit of a long winded approach, but for a free solution, not bad.

    I just recently just purchased Acronis TrueImage as I new my wifes laptop hard disk was about to go.
    I installed it on the laptop, created a backup CD (Boot CD from the Acronis menu)
    Booted the laptop from the CD
    Did an image backup via the lan to my PC (could not backup 3 sectors)
    Got a new HD and put it in.
    Booted from the cd and restored the image via the lan to the new hard disk
    Rebooted the laptop and all works.
    (The 3 bad sectors has files which she does not use)
    All up, 1 hr to do the backup.
    10 minutes to change hard disk
    50 minute to restore the image.

  53. Maneesh

    “Most of the time it’s going to give you an error saying “Unable to mount the volume”,
    because Windows didn’t shut it down cleanly”

    :-o .. are you serious .. makes me wonder if i should quit reading further ;)

  54. Joe

    A minor suggestion – I would suggest adding the “-r” or “-o ro” flags to use readonly when mounting the drive. Having the additional safety net of not being able to damage the filesystem by writing to it is a nice thing.

  55. Marcelino


    Nice that you use Acronis TrueImage since it boot’s into Linux LiveCD to perform the operations you needed. If you booted a non-graphical Linux (not Ubuntu), you will notice the initial Acronis boot and Linux boot is the same. Acronis is Windows looking GUI on Linux LiveCD. Hit ctl-alt-F1 or is it ctl-alt-f2 and Acronis drops to limited Linux shell mode. Keep cycling from F3-F7 to get back to Acronis Windows GUI.

  56. DC

    Do I have to use ImgBurn or can I use Nero?

    Any special Settings in Nero that I need to be aware of?


  57. Daniel

    Great tip. Ive been using this strategy for several months, but I would run the “ntfsfix /dev/yourfixeddisk” command before trying to mount with the ntfs-3g module. This fixes the partition errors and therefore there is no need to do the “-force” option in the mounted partition.

  58. Techie

    Nice Guide. I have been already using this method when XP starts giving problem.
    Liked Ubuntu so much, that I switched over to it.

  59. web

    Great post, I had to do this once and had no convenient guide like this. I got stuck at the mounting the drive part so props to this guy for explaining it clearly.

  60. Buell

    I just did this last week on one of my friend’s kids laptops with SUSE! I felt clever!

  61. Jared

    I got really excited when I read this, but everytime I try to boot I have the same problem nikujin (above) did.
    When I click “try Ubuntu without any changes” it says “Error reading boot CD”. I burned the disc several times (on both CDs and DVDs) and I have tried using the slowest write rate possible, but it makes no difference. Does anyone have suggestions as to what I need to do?

  62. The Geek

    If you can’t get the machine to boot from any cd, there’s likely some other problem going on. The problem could be memory, motherboard, or just with the cdrom itself.

  63. Jared

    @ The Geek
    The computer will boot into Windows (from hard disk), but windows is severly “broken”. I cannot transfer any files from anywhere to anywhere (the option is available, but nothing happens when I actually tell the computer to move or copy the files…whether it’s to an external drive, second internal drive, or to CD or DVD). It cannot connect to the network or online alone and many, but not all, programs will not run. I am planning to use system restore, but I am trying to backup my huge amount of data first. That’s why this seemed like a perfect solution, but like I said above, the Ubuntu disk is read, at least enough to get me to the boot menu, but when I choose to “Try Ubuntu without any changes” it says “Error reading boot CD”. It just seems odd that my drives are working, and my computer can boot windows (albeit broken), but I keep getting this “Error reading boot CD” message.

  64. Jared

    I think I figured out the problem. I looked at the file size of each Ubuntu file I downloaded (I had to do it several times before “successful”). They were all far too small…my downloads “completed” before the entire file finished transferring…I’ll just have to try again until I get the whole thing…

  65. Cire

    I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM AS LEONARDO!!!!! “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer” is not there, instead, in the middle of the options is something that says rescue crashed computer or something like that…. I clicked that and they said error reading disc

    Help me please, or send me to an article or forum that can

  66. niteriderws6

    is this only for vista? because it dosent work on my windows xp???

  67. Jared

    I just want to say thank you for this article. Although I never successfully Dl’d Ubuntu, I used Puppy Linux (Thanks Gary P) which was a much smaller (and therefore easier) download, and it worked flawlessly. It saved me a ton of time, money, and hassle. Thanks!

  68. jeff

    I have the same problem as others. I have a dead laptop hard drive and when I go into Computer, it is not recognized. Can anyone help me with this, I’m trying to get pictures. Thanks.

  69. Ruben

    Master like!!!! THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS HELP. you saved my data!!

  70. Midon

    I am having the same problem as Ananta. I don’t see my hard drive. I don’t see that this was answered. Can anyone help?


    i did the exact same thing little ago, yesterday I encountered a problem. I can not see any drive while booting from ubuntu. XP is crashed. but I know, there is hard drive. on computer, it only shows filesystem.

    also, I have admin password in XP, but I believe that as the OS is different, that does not effect and Drive should be visible.

    why it happened , any idea??

  71. Henrik

    Thanks a million, you helped me save my brothers travelpictures on his crashed laptop.


  72. valentina

    thank you very much for this great tutorial on how to save data from brother was in trouble with his notebook…and now his docs are safe in the external hd.
    thanx from Italy

  73. chyna_doll

    I don’t have an external or usb drive, can i just hook my laptop to my comp while doing this and transfer my files that way? i have a Vista laptop and XP computer.

  74. knowledgebanc


    I got really excited when I read this, but everytime I try to boot I have the same problem nikujin (above) did.
    When I click “try Ubuntu without any changes” it says “Error reading boot CD”. I burned the disc several times (on both CDs and DVDs) and I have tried using the slowest write rate possible, but it makes no difference. Does anyone have suggestions as to what I need to do?]

    Did you burn the boot disk as an image file(ISO) ? To create a BOOTABLE CD of the OS you must burn it as a ISO image.

  75. Hornzog

    When i try to boot from the cd it gets to the part where i choose “try ubunto without any change to your computer” then it goes to a black screen with white writing saying ” requires x88-64CPU, only detected an i1586CPU” Then i cant do anything

    I used the desktop version and have tried both the available PC types.

    Its a Dell dimension 5000 that im tyring to do this on.

    Any ideas?

  76. Marcelino

    Hornzog, your computer is 32bit and your trying the 64bit version…go back and download the 32bit version. Down the i386 version. It is used for Pentium 1-4. i386 does not mean fro 386 computer….

  77. Lukas

    that was very helpful.

  78. Mike

    thank you so much! i got as far as the live cd on my own thinking but i couldnt figure out how to mount the drive until i saw this amazing article :)

  79. Snail

    I did this but encountered a problem. Note: as was a “lucky one” and was able to seemingly access the Computer’s hard drive.
    I connected an external HDD and copied folders under the C drive into a folder I created for this backup process.
    There is enough room on this external HDD for the at least 40 GB but I only need about ~26 GB if I copied the whole C drive — which I plan to do.
    I copied a few folders without any messages intervening.
    Here is the problem:
    I tried to copy Documents and settings and get a message: “Error while copying “DSCF9166.JPG”.
    There was an error copying the file into /media/WD USB 2/(backup folder name)/(documents and settings/user/my documents/My Pictures/…more of the directory(of the path on the folder I clicked “copy” on)”
    “Show more details
    Error opening file ‘/media/(same directory as above except /DSCF9166.JPG’: No such file or directory”

    Why does this message occur? I did the same process of clicking “copy” on the C drive folder I wanted and clicking “paste” in the external HDD’s backup folder.
    The options are “Cancel” “Skip all” “Skip”.
    I don’t know what to do from here.
    Thank you for the post.

  80. Sai Wolf

    I have just one simple question.

    Why couldn’t this be done with RHEL? SuSE? CentOS? Debian? Gentoo?

    It’s frustrating to see that so many people are lauding Ubuntu as the ‘catch all’ linux distro. One of the things I don’t want to see is ‘Linux’ becoming synonymous with ‘Ubuntu’.

    Reading the article, there is no instruction that is Ubuntu/Debian specific (apt-get, debpkg, etc) So the exact same method would work on any distro that had the GNOME desktop.

    I would suggest that you state “You could do this with a similar linux distro” in your article, instead of directly pandering to Ubuntu.

    Just my two cents.

  81. jimdays

    I know you tried to walk through the “tricky part” slowly, but I am still confused. I can you re- explain it in different words? I’m lost with these words,”You’ll need to type out a command very similar to this one, but you’ll need to replace /dev/sda1 with what you see in that message box we showed you above.” What exactly do I need to type when I can’t mount the drive?

  82. hakimi

    [1000.XXXXXX] SQUASHFS error: Unable to read fragment cache block [xxxxx]
    [1000.XXXXXX] SQUASHFS error: Unable to read page, block XXXdXXXe. size 5b48
    [1000.XXXXXX] SQUASHFS error: sb_bread failed reading block 0xa5778

    why this appeared in my screen and what is the solution. Please help me…

  83. Cary

    As another user mentioned- perfect timing! My PC took a dump on me last week and this article saved me with minimal hassle. Biggest gripe was that it took an hour to d/l Ubuntu on my roommate’s crappy laptop… :)

  84. Frenchie

    Thanks for the POST.

    This was VERY useful. I think the Vista Machine I was dealing with had a virus and I had no way to back up the data on any of my other Windows machine… how ridiculous?!?!?

    I’m glad I already had a irtual Machine of Ubuntu 7 on one of my machine, it saved my day.


  85. francois dublin

    Thank you so much!

    I am another frenchie with similar comments! I am so glad I had a Ubuntu Live CD handy and your instructions through a second machine borrowed from work si that I was able to salvage data from my hard disk.

    It was daunting at first as I had never seen Terminal before (but heard of it); your instructions were so easy to follow it all happened as if by magic.

    You saved my day, my week, the past month (date of my last backup).

  86. Dave

    My son’s laptop went south and I tried to recover it with a Linux Live CD. I was able to mount the drive but I got a message that I did not have permission to look at the contents of the folder. Has anyone tried this on a Mac? He has about $500 worth of ITunes downloads on it.


  87. jonhill987

    I agree with Sai Wolf, too many of the articles are specific to Ubuntu, I understand you have to use Ubuntu for the example as you can’t have all the distros on your computer but it would be nice if you said that the same can be done with almost any distro. Personally I prefer Mandriva Free as it had far better out of the box support for my laptop than Ubuntu.

    On another note, I suggested this method to someone on the forum to back up their data and they said it is asking for a username and password.

    any ideas?

  88. Jeff

    Nice, but as others have mentioned, this isn’t Ubuntu specific. Personally, I have a nice geekstick that has a linux system on it for this situation, or if it’s my laptop, I just boot into my linux and backup from there.

    Except since I wasn’t too interested in files at the time, I just used dd if=/dev/sda1 of=/path/to/backup with gzip in there somehow (I’m still waking up, so don’t expect complex command lines until my 2th cup of coffee) and that worked as well.

    The only problem I see here is if the FAT/Whatever they call it in NTFS is corrupted, then you might not get your files. And never never NEVER do an rm * -rf on a corrupted drive mounted in your live system, because the corruption can cause the rm process to jump out of the sub-directory (ie: where you mounted it) and into the ROOT!! Been there, done that, feel stoopid. Shuddabin working from a live-cd, then it’s not a problem…

    my $.50 worth. (inflation, y’know…)

  89. Pedro Lerias

    My problem with windows xp is that the user32.dll file is missing so I can’t start it. I have used the Ubuntu cd to backup files, as you suggested, but is there a way I can copy a new user32.dll file into the windows folders? It says it is not possible, but this would solve the problem.

    Is is doable? How? I know almost no console linux language!

  90. Neil

    @ Pedro Lerias

    Not a techie, so don’t know the answer. However, do you know how the .dll disapeared? Are you using AVG? There’s a lot in the news atm about AVG incorrectly identyfing that particular system file as a trojan. Worth contanting AVG if this is the case as theres a years sub of AVG proffesional by the way of an apology.

  91. Pedro Lrias

    Hi Neil,

    That was exactly what happened, as I learned later. It took me by surprise and I didn’t realise the mistake until it was too late. I ended up simply saving all my files using Ubuntu CD and reinstalling everything. I lost a day of work, something AVG won’t pay back, I’m sure!

  92. Nate

    Thanks worked great for recovering files from a bad vista installation. I moved the files over the network and resinstalled with no problems.

  93. sc4s2cg


    I followed the directions to a T, and I was able to open my drive, but I cannot see the files. It says there is still 26GB of free disk space left, so I know it knows somethings on there, but I cannot see any folders/directories.

    Any ideas?

    (Ps, not a techie. A dumbed down solution would be preferrable)

  94. Jaelle

    I was one of the ‘lucky ones’ and my hdd immediately appeared once Ubuntu loaded. However, I don’t have the “permission” to drag/drop to the external hdd. How do I get around this? I’m using 7.04 Ubuntu Live on a dead Vista laptop with a NTFS external hdd.

  95. Brendan

    Everything was going smoothly for me until I had to plug in a USB device. Ubuntu would not recognize anything I plugged in. I decided to restart the system with a USB device already plugged in. Ubuntu found the device, but couldn’t mount it. I followed the steps for force mounting the device. UBuntu now found my USB device, but I could no longer access the hard drive inside my computer that I am trying to rescue (I was able to access this drive before force mounting the USB drive). When I click on my hard drive’s icon, it opens up my USB drive’s window. I have no idea what to do!

    I did notice that when Ubuntu was booting up, I saw several cryptic errors about USB addresses not responding. I don’t know if that means anything.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  96. R

    20 gigs of family photos on a laptop; after a failed update, of course, Vista was unable to restart; imagine how happy i was when i had found your guide; many thanks for helping me recovering precious memories; THANK YOU

  97. NEiL

    Thank you so much for the article. This just saved 8gb of photos and videos from the last 3 years of my life.

  98. Dalia

    Hey, thanks heaps for that!
    awesome article.

    however, i have a little problem. i’ve been trying to do this with my friend’s laptop but after all the coding, where u said that “now you should be able to access your drive through Computer”, it STILL doesn’t allow me to access it!

    Can I please get some assistance with this? I posted this on the forum earlier but i’m in need for a quick reply so i apologise for posting my problem in the comments section!

    Thanks heaps!!

  99. klseesea

    Follow the steps given, and it works marvelously. Straight I recommended it to my friends. Looking forward for more great tips.

  100. Dsherlock

    Hey I tried your idea but sadly my “cannot mount volume” detail was different from yours.It says:

    Record 6 has no FILE magic (0*0)Failed to open inode:input/outpu error Failed to mount ‘/dev/hda1’:input/output error NTFS is either inconsistent,or you have hardware faults,or you have a SoftRAID/FakeRaid hardware………

    If goes on to tell me to solve them by using chkdsk in Windows(cant do that…cant get into windows) or if I have that FakeRAID hardware to activate it and mount different device …..I dont have any hardware plugged in…Just The Windows on the problematic disk and the Ubuntu live cd in the cd rom .

    I am very new to linux..I even tried your force mount commands to see if it will still work…It came back with the same message…Record 6 has no FILE magic……

    Maybe you know something else I can do with Linux Ubuntu….I tried UBCD and Bart PE…Windows XP Recovery and other linux live cd…they all leave me with a blank black screen…checking hardware configuration or somthing like that it the last thing I see then nothing.

    Its the disk problem I am sure…tried other disk and it worked…the laptop even booted up with live cd without a hard drive connected.I tried all jumper settings and boot Order.

    I hope you can help me…you were on the right track.Again I am new to linux but your post was so detailed and easy to follow…I hope you can help. Or anyone that can suggest a way

    Thanks again

  101. richca

    Not sure if this possibility was in the comments above, but I just used an uBuntu Live CD to boot a Dell laptop that had picked up a nasty drive-by infection while doing research on a website. There were rogue dll’s and temp files and batch files all over the place. I was able to find and delete most of these in Windows BUT there was one controlling dll that refused to be trashed. As long as that file was there, the infection kept coming back.

    Booting off the uBuntu Live CD allowed me to zap that final file and clear the infection from the laptop. Sweet!

  102. KevinBotes

    I did as instructed, i see my drive, it is a seagate 500gb st3500830a, 7200.10, running 3.aad frimware. this shows up in ubuntu as a scsi drive,the dialog comes up saying unable to mount location, not cannot mount volume. it does not come up with any details click. is there any other way to get the data or am i doing somethng wrong ?

  103. RH

    First time crash and I was able to transfer everything I needed/ that hadn’t been backed up quite easily to my external. Saved me some serious time and money! Thank you so much!

  104. Simen

    Hey, thanks for a great guide. Got everything to work with the USB boot etc. But when I’m inside Ubuntu and go to Computer, my HD isn’t showing. Any hope to revive it? When I boot my PC normally, I can hear it spinning, but it seems like it doesn’t get in “gear”.

    Any help would be great, thanks!

  105. dj

    so i got to veiw the folders but all my music didnt show up except like 4 were there.. uh oh..
    sould something go wrong? or are they sum how ghidden? im copying EVERYTHING and putting it on the d drive and reinstalling windows. i heard it wouldnt effect the d drive.?

  106. Eddy

    I got a problem with my pc. after getting a virus I installed a cracked copy of norton 2009.
    But when I restarted the pc windows didn’t want to load. so after many attempts I tried system recovery but it did not let me access the copy of windows installed. after I tried to repair windows hoping to solve the problem with the original cd, but even the repair process was not concluded successfully.
    Can I use ubuntu to access the important files I had in the hard drive? Did repair affect my files?
    Please help…

  107. Rob Rod

    What a great howto! I was able to use this step-for-step and helped my friend recover his pictures, music and documents that he had otherwise considered lost forever!

  108. cramcram

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial. Just using it to restore the files to my Synology NAS. Perfectly well written, wonderfully illustrated and furthermore it saves all my data from the last year. Love this!

  109. Juan

    I had been doing this stuff from like three years ago when dapper rolled around. I got a kubuntu liveCD from a friend and when my (at the time XP MCE 2k5) windoze box went belly up that kubuntu disc allowed me to pull my 12GB worth of personal stuff off the HD to my external HD, from that moment I downloaded Ubuntu dapper and kept using it until now that I use Ubuntu Ultimate edition. I also started fixing unbootable friends and relatives PC’s with just an external HD and that kubuntu CD. And with the testdisk tool I could salvage the valuable data from one friend’s HD that had it’s partition table thoroughly destroyed (dunno how, but it was trashed badly). And in another case I could even disinfect a winxp PC that had literally layers upon layers of malware in it.

  110. john

    I followed all the tutorial all worked fine until i wanted to find windows and theres is nothing to find maybe its gone altogether..i only wanted to retrieve pics and music…

  111. Emma

    Thank you so much! This helped me enormously today. Shame that wireless wouldn’t work, but a wired link to a local PC worked just fine. Thank you!

  112. kausik

    This worked for me like magic. Thanks a lot.

    I had Fedora Code(FC) 6 and XP Enterprise Installed in my hard drive. I couldn’t boot my laptop with XP and used to get an error message like “1720-Hard drive detects Imminent failure”. So data in the partiton used by XP was lost. I was able to ignore the error message using ‘F1’ key and boot my laptop with FC6. I tried ‘dd’ command when my system is up with FC6 to browse and copy data from the partiton used by XP but it didn’t work.

    Finally, I was able to boot my laptop with Ubuntu Live CD, force mount my XP-partition and copy the data to external hard drive.

    Thanks a lot to those who wrote the above post. Amazing!!!!

  113. jonny rocket

    thanks. very helpful.

  114. Damcw

    Fantastic article, you’ve just helped me save my family photo collection! Thanks for all your effort!

  115. Pete

    Wow, this is perfect. Such clear simple instructions. I’ve always meant to find out how to use linux and I got to have my first tutorial by recovering hundreds of irreplaceable documents, pictures, and music files from my old broken computer. Thank you.

  116. Chris

    Hi all,

    I have followed this guide step by step and like a few others my laptop’s hard drive is not being displayed in the ‘computer-file browser’…my only options are the dvd drive, but I can see no sign of my internal hard drive!

    Can anyone please give me any help or advice on how

  117. Chris

    Hi all,

    I am trying to use Ubuntu to back up all of my pictures, etc onto an external hard drive as my laptop has died and I cannot access anything at all.
    I have followed this guide step by step and like a few others my laptop’s hard drive is not being displayed in the ‘computer-file browser’my only options are the dvd drive, but I can see no sign of my internal hard drive!

    Can anyone please give me any help or advice on how I can make my internal hard drive be recognised by Ubuntu?

    I have alot of pictures of my sons first year of life which I will be devastated to lose..

    Please help, it will be much appreciated…

  118. Martin

    Great article! Tanx,..

    Only one problem,. ive plugged in two diferent usb drives,.. but none is automaticly found,. What do i do now?


  119. Martinus

    Tried a usb stick wich is found,.. but none of my usb harddrives

  120. Martinus

    You write in here that “plug in an external USB drive, which should place an icon on the Ubuntu desktop, and most likely immediately pop up a nautilus window showing the contents of the drive.”

    but what if it dont pop up,.. what do i do then?

    I really need to transfer some big files so very thankful for help..

  121. kris

    This is the error I get, very similar to the error Dsherlock got:

    Once I do the force mount this is the error I get:

    NTFS is either inconsistent, or you have hardware faults, or you have a
    SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows
    then reboot into Windows TWICE. The usage of the /f parameter is very
    important! If you have SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first you must activate
    it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g.
    /dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the ‘dmraid’ documentation
    for the details.


  122. Keith

    I figured I had nothing to lose, so I gave this a shot. I had to reboot my computer a few times to finally get Ubuntu(sp) to load. The commands were sort of clear. I had to try several different commands before I found one that worked. The Hard Drive did show up. The properties said it had an NTSF file system but the with the commands I had to use Vfat cause it said the drive had a Fat12. May have worked better if I had avoided the Windows repair program all together since that is when I first couldn’t read the drive in Safe mode and then ran this instead. Fortunately I got most of the files I wanted before I turned my computer off which is how I found out it had crashed. But this Ubuntu thing is kinda cool so I’m gonna hold on to it.

  123. Keith

    I want to make note that this isn’t the first time I had a HD crash on me. The first time I paid over $500 to have the files extracted – which I had quotes of over $1000. I knew better to back up my files but I never did. I was able to save stuff this time but I lost alot of Emails. To read that someone is losing his sons pictures I just cringe and say that if the pics are that important, you might want to look into a data extraction service.

  124. Martinus


    tanx anyway

  125. bob

    That is a good method to save files from a NTFS partition. Too bad it wasn’t what I needed a week ago when my NTFS partition on my first HD went out along with the bootloader and a lot of files. Windows would no long boot and in Ubuntu the drive showed up as corrupted and couldn’t do anything with it. The only thing that saved it was a repair CD called Emergency Boot Disk. It was a live version of Windows XP with nothing but tools for saving, repairing, and backing up files from dead Windows partitions. It was the only thing I found that would read the corrupted partition. I just backed up all my files I wanted to another HD with a NTFS partition and Wiped the first NTFS partition free and reinstalled the boot loader.
    My problem was a bit more than this tutorial could have handled though. If all you have is a drive with messed up system files in Windows so it becomes unbootable or a bootloader not configured properly then boot up that ubuntu CD.

  126. nichole

    Hi read all the forums. I have a toshiba satellte p305-s8825 , I cant restore my window and Im stuck rebooting over and over again. I just bought a 500 gb external drive to back up my computer and I can see everything in the ubuntu program but it wont mount my 500gb drive. I just want to get into my computer . Is ubuntu live different from the regular one because I need all the help I can get. How are you guys deleting bad files and viruses, Im willing to try anything now . I have about 10,000 songs my computer holds 320 gb so Im hurting man. HELLLLLLLLLLLLLP Please

  127. nichole

    Had some luck I restarted my computer with the drive attached and it picked it right up. I just wanna know how can I repair my system startup with all the files on had .

  128. Wade

    I was also one of the lucky ones even though i received a mount location error message. However none of the files I have gained access to are ones I need. Everything that is missing appears to be what was administrator protected. Any hints on how to access that information?

  129. sunny

    Just now, Kaspersky eff-ed up my system. The system simply won’t boot. Safe mode, Latest Config that worked, etc, etc. But, it seems that lot of people faced this kind of problem with Kaspersky because of the way it likes to install and handle system files. I’m quite aware of what I did for the installation. Since there was no way booting the system, I was wondering where I would backup my files and how. I was always wondering what to do if a linux live distro couldn’t identify the partition. Thanks to your system, I could force mount it. Now, I’m on Dreamlinux and backing up the most important data and thankfully the data is less.


  130. Steve

    If the icon for your hard drive doesn’t appear, then just go through the steps described above for mounting via the command line, the disk is probably ‘/dev/sda1’. After doing so, I accessed the data via command line by typing “cd /media/disk”. After typing this command, the icon appeared in the ‘computer’ area and I was able to access things via the GUI. Hope this helps!

  131. brandon

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! my computer died.. keep rebooting by itself.. couldnt even go into safe mode whatsoever even after using COMPAQS recovery partition to repair the computer.. at first i used an older version of ubuntu that didnt work.. with the latest version 8.10 i believed. i booted from cd.. accessed my files thru the guide above.. and the rest was history.. i thought my problem was serious.. if u ever need emergency backup of files.. this is the guide!! one comment though.. just follow the steps that the error message gives you.. the instructions above didnt work for me.. not all portable harddrives will be detected as well. u may have to force mount it as well.. overall, ubuntu saved my life this time. thank you guys!!

  132. Jet

    This really did save my ‘windows a**’, although in my defense i wanted to use linux…my school just wouldn’t let me. As a result, I almost lost 3 months worth of work when windows crashed on me for no apparent reason…YAY GEEKS!

  133. banan

    thanks, it worked fine mounting but when i plug in my usb hard drive it doesnt show up so i have no way of copying my files that i just mounted. is there a way to get to the usb hard drive?

  134. Sputz

    This is the error I get, very similar to the error Dsherlock got:

    Once I do the force mount this is the error I get:

    NTFS is either inconsistent, or you have hardware faults, or you have a
    SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows
    then reboot into Windows TWICE. The usage of the /f parameter is very
    important! If you have SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first you must activate
    it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g.
    /dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the ‘dmraid’ documentation
    for the details.


    I am getting this same error does anyone know how to get around this?

  135. Manish

    Hi Geek,

    Thanks for the recovery guide above. Just wondering if there’s a risk of loosing any data if I try to force mount the try. Just wanna be sure before trying to do that.

    Thanks again

  136. Manish

    Hi Geek,

    Thanks for the recovery guide above. Just wondering if there’s a risk of loosing any data if I try to force mount the DRIVE. Just wanna be sure before trying to do that.

    Thanks again

  137. Mark

    I thought I’d lost all our pictures, wedding organiser, music collection etc. Until I found this article…it gave me hope. False hope it turns out – my hardrive didn’t even appear on the list.

  138. Mark

    useless if you have a raid hard drive setup

  139. sriman

    I am trying to copy the files to an external USB hard drive. I have 55Gb to copy & it is taking ages to copy at the rate of 150-180 KB/sec. Is there a quicker way to copy to an externall hard drive?

  140. Dave

    I have the same problem as Sputz up there. It’s a miracle that ubuntu even finally sees the drive, but it won’t mount it and I don’t understand this error.

  141. Chris

    Why I use Puppy to tuneup XP.

    Please note the date I added this to the Puppy Forum.

    PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul 2007, 22:47

    Much easier to load and the drives automount.

    Much easier and quicker.
    Take out the cd after booting, as Puppy runs in memory,
    Then burn your data, docs, songs, photos to cd or dvd if
    you have no spare drive or dvd.

    This has saved many an XP and Vista computer.


    There is also seven page doc file zip …
    11.1 KB at the end of my post.

    The last 2 pages are a clean out guide 4 XP.
    Some modification is needed for Vista….
    Documents and settings = user.

    Puppy How to remove Viruses Whirlpool


  142. Smithg

    I have an ACER 5000 laptop running Windows XP. It will not boot up. I get this message: “Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: Windows\System32\config\system.” I get this after I choose “Last Know Working (or Good) Configuration.” I can’t get anywhere after this.

    I started to follow the directions offered here: I made my UBUNTU CD, checked it on a working computer (it’s fine) and inserted it into the ACER. It still won’t boot-up! I tried it off the BIOS screen, but nothing. The laptop does not seem to see the disk.

    Any further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  143. Johnny

    could i use this to do a system of my friends messed up his computer and it wont boot correctly..i was just wondering if i could use this to get into it and do a system restore

  144. andrew zandlo

    I want to extend so much thanks to you for getting this on the web. Im in Iraq on a deployment and I was F’d. I went to throug the net ops guys to get an ubuntu disc and I saved my Fall out 3 game save. Well I save my other not as important files like bills and photos but mainly got the game save. I would suggest from my current EXP. that sometimes the file browser wont open and that the user might want to shut down and restart if clicking on the drive icon doesnt do anything.
    Regards from this dusty shithole
    Cop Basrah

  145. Marie

    Using this method allowed me to retrieve all my daughter’s files. Some were a little tough to locate, and we verified on another computer, but I was able to retrieve everything.

    I finally decided to try Ubuntu as a last resort, burned a CD on my Mac (I’m a Mac person) – and started her computer up using an external drive.

    My only regret is that I didn’t find this article BEFORE I spent too many hours to count figuring it out on my own. I’m glad you put up the article and hope others find it before, rather than after they pull their hair out.

  146. chao

    i got in the windows but it read my hard disk as 1.1gb while my computer has 120gb, i can’t find the files i want to back up , please help asap
    i can’t boot from normal startup nor safe mode too

  147. Beckah

    Thank you! My coputer crashed (it’s less then a year old) and of course I had nothing backed up. This helped me so much! Thank you thank you thank you!

  148. OVO

    Thank you for saving my bacon! My XP machine wouldn’t boot, kept going back to the BIOS – but the Ubuntu CD worked great and fortunately all my files are accessible – haven’t backed up in a few months so I was really SOL – getting all the important stuff backed up to external HD right now. This was my first exposure to Linux (always put off by the command line demands) and I’m overjoyed. Thanks again!

  149. JeffC

    Glad I found this site! New owner of refurbed IBM Thinkpad T42 laptop running XP Pro SP3, spent days loading service packs then Kapersky (could be culprit) then a few important files not backed up elsewhere. While installing CCleaner, a lock up in OS. Rebooted received blue screen message: STOP: c0000221 Unknown Hard Error \SystemRoot\System32\ntdll.dll. No luck in other boot options. Tried to mount drive with latest Knoppix (nice GUI). No luck either. Found this well-explained article, and the result – a successful transfer of files to flash drive using Unbuntu. Unfortunately, unable to XP boot after copy of clean and current ntdll.dll file. Boot checksum error. Returning machine under warranty likely to be replaced with a new hard drive/OS. Any explanations why Knoppix would not mount. I did not need to force boot with Unbuntu.

  150. Ashley

    No one has answered this question:

    Can I backup my files to a DVD with this?

    I do not have an external hard drive and am a broke student with a crap load of dvd-rs to spare :)

  151. laura

    i dunno ashley, ive been trying to burn using an external cd writer, kept saying error, so im going attempt to take the ubuntu cd out my pc and see if i can do it that way, let you know

  152. laura

    I had a complete MARE doing this…i started yesterday about 7pm its now 6am the whole downloading the iso etc got that, had a few goes to get it to load….id keep the ubronto os if i could of got it to run photoshop etc but my brains too wrecked to sort it, so after painstakingly copying everything over to my mac laptop….because i couldnt get the ubunto thing to write to cds or dvds…it new they were there but couldnt do it for some reason. so here i am now formatting my hdd at hoping for the best!!! but im SOOOO pleased i found this tutorial its saved my day. ive been up nearly 19 hours, and i have to do a further 24 so i can get this this essay and two projects in for friday… yes i did leave it last minute, but i wasnt expectin my pc to die :D

  153. Ty

    Thank you so much!!! you pretty much saved my live! :D It worked perfectly!

  154. Wayne

    If I used this as a method of backing up my HDD, would the restore be as easy as copying back from the external drive after re-formatting? Would this method be better than using backup or disk imaging software? If not, what would you recommend?

  155. Jessica

    I am hoping someone here can be of assistance. I am trying to recover data from a friends broken hard drive on her lap top. I’ve followed every direction here but I’m stuck. When I try to open the computer through ubuntu I don’t ever receive the choice 1 and choice 2. Instead I receive this:

    Cannot mount volume.

    Unable to mount the volume.

    ntfs_attr_pread_i: ntfs_pread failed: input/output error Failed to read NTFS $Bitmap: Input/output error NTFS is either inconsisten, or there is a hardware fault, or it’s a SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very important! If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g. /dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the ‘dmraid’ documentation for more details.

    I tried going into the manual and it mentioned that it no longer uses the force command and that it can use recover, so I thought perhaps that since this was an older article perhaps it was outdated to the program. I tried as many variations as I could see as logical.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  156. Ike Dyson

    Imagine I did all of this (backed up all my files) last week, using Ubuntu, and discovered this article after the fact. I have quit Windows. To hell with them. Ubuntu is fine by me. Okay, I have software peculiar to XP for video editing, but I’ll get by. I still have XP on an older PC anyway.

    But my BIOS went, and only two weeks after I installed more RAM! Bastard machine. But XP will no longer load, yet Ubuntu works like a dream. Originally, I was only to use Ubuntu for backup, and then re-install XP, but with the BIOS gone, and with it being a soldered on BIOS, I have given up on loading XP. I’ll just have to load all the software I can get for Ubuntu.

    But I cannot beat Ubuntu at chess unless it’s set on “easy”!

  157. Brewster

    Linux Mint is Ubuntu based but a lot more friendly for Windows converts.
    l have tried several distos for 12 months but always end up back with Mint.

  158. Gerard

    Pretty straight forward. Although detail would be nice. Awesome overall. Thanks, helped me a lot (:

  159. Man

    Great Article!!
    I was wondering if I can install Ubuntu on a USB Flash drive and use it to boot my laptop?

    I don’t have access to any other CD/DVD writer. My laptop does give me an option to boot from USB drive.

    Any pointers on this will be of great help.

  160. Martin

    Fantastic step-by-step guide. I spent several hours on the web searching for a solution to my XP problem (a ‘mup.sys hang’ that seems very common and seems very tough to resolve).

    This live CD got everything up and running in minutes. I’ll recommend it to everyone!

  161. mohan

    Thanks man. This really really helped. :-)

  162. Rennie

    YOU ARE AMAZING!!! I dont know much about computers, but your directions were perfect. I was quoted $1800 to have all my documents/pictures restored after my Dell XPS 1330 crashed last month….I’ve restored everything for free!!! THANK YOU!!!

  163. Han

    Ubuntu doesn’t show my windows harddrive in the Places/Computers directory…help!

  164. Apis4

    Alrighty, now I found this, and it saved my girls lappy. Awesome stuff. She got all her thingymebobsits.

    But, strooth, we are not computer people, she uses her for picture and music and movies, I use mine for p*rn, video games and virtual grids like second life stuff and what not. Still we both understood this and made it work. Neither of understands any of these discussion comments though, so I have a Q. We didnt keep her XP CD, its lost somewhere, maybe a couple of years gone, should be evident that you keep it, but as I said, not PC ppl. Can we, since we dont have an XP CD, use Unbuntu to access all the XP System files and Hardware files and directory things, to fix the Blue Death screen business which precipitated the need for us to go down this path? Or can we confidently just run Ubuntu on the lappy now, ignoring all the old dogey XP stuff? or can we access XP and delete it ALL now, and still keep allthe other files and stuff.. so that she still has her games anf net and what not, just running it ona Linux OS having killed, as horrifically and viley as possible to teach it a lesson, the Microsoft XP bastard demon of hell?

  165. Antonhy

    I wasted several hours trying this with 8xx and the latest versions and I did not get the option to “install without updating my disk” . any one have ideas?

  166. Brandon

    I cannot thank you enough for this article and your clear and precise directions. As it were, I had about 600GB worth of stuff backe up on my external HD; yet I had about 20MB worth of irreplaceable pictures on my main drive (that no longer seems to want to run). I was in a panic and have been at wits end, trying to figure out how to recover them. I had almost resorted to trying an “XP repair install” so as not to lose anything- however, every guide I’ve read mentions that you can’t always count on not losing things.

    I’m so, SO glad I decided to give this a shot before resorting to anything drastic.

    Again, many, many thanks.

  167. Andrew

    before i download it does anybody know if it would work, despite my computer not being able to boot up properly due to a hard drive error. When i put in the XP disc and try to do all that recovery stuff it also says cannot find or recognize a hard drive. Since it cant be recognized, even though i can hear it working, would this program still run and work?

  168. Andrew

    nvm its working pefectly, thankyou for saving my files :D

  169. JC.Halifax.CAN

    My Mother’s computer had an XP OS that corrupted. I used my Hardy CD and this post to salvage 20 years of pictures she had digitalized. Thank you so much this was so helpful and extremely easy.

  170. gABoy

    i got this to boot up on my hp laptop and it shows my 250gig hd but when i click on it thre are no files in the folder is there anyway to get them to show up??

  171. Chris Rakowski

    Thank you so much! You saved me a lot of time and hassle! :) :) :)

  172. Lost in Beatrice

    I downloaded Ubuntu. I downloaded IMGBURN. ImgBurn is not showing Ubuntu as a supprtoed file so I can not burn to a disk. ANY help would be fantastic

  173. jll

    Thanks a lot!! these tips were of great help. I had backed up my important files using the instructions here. I have used same image burning program recommended here. The laptop booted very well and I was fortunate to get into the files easily.

    Thanks a million!!!!

  174. Cathy

    Thank you for this great article! I was facing a Windows Blue Screen with a Stop Error that I couldn’t get past. This solution worked like a charm, and I was able to retrieve all of my files! THANKS!

  175. Geek Shui Living

    Just wanted to say thanks for a great tutorial on rescuing Windows-based PCs. We used this same technique to rescue data for a user from a year-old Compaq that had been running Windows Vista. Though it came with the standard restore partition, the hard disk was corrupted and needed replacement. Since the user’s warranty had expired, they were unable to get much support from HP on the issue. Microsoft was not helpful either, in dealing with the problem of having a Windows Vista license but no install DVD. The user was ready to throw it away and buy a new PC. We suggested replacing the hard disk and installing Ubuntu Linux. They were obviously wary about learning a different OS but with some basic configuration, installation of open-source antivirus, firewall, etc. we were able to teach them the basics. Once they saw how fast and easy to use it was, they were thrilled that we had pushed them to give it a shot. They are now using Ubuntu Linux like a professional and happy that they were able to save $500+ on a new PC. Just an idea for those who want to reduce landfill waste and extend the life of a PC by several years. Alternatively, if they still want to buy a new one, technicians can always take it off a client’s hands, replace the hard disk, install Unbuntu and the necessary open-source software and give it to a needy family. Whether its someone out of a job who needs a computer to update and email resumes or a student who needs to learn basic computer skills and do homework, someone can definitely benefit, without having to worry about licensing problems. Hope others can find the idea useful and “Pay it forward…”

  176. chaz

    Got to the try ubuntu without any change to your computer then it asked me to log in. What password should i use. Thanks in advance.

  177. Tim

    Hey thanks for brilliant idea. Think I’ll install Ubuntu as second operating system when I reboot.

    Searched for hours for a solution and this also saved me ringing a 50p/min number (which most probably would have just wasted my time too!).

    Keep up the great work!

  178. Cy

    Nice guide, I’m managing files on a dead windows install right now to back them up before trying to repair windows after some problems with viruses and conflicting anti virus programs. It’s working pretty slow, but that’s the fault of my computer’s specs and the limitations of having the OS on a dvd, I’m guessing. At least it’s working, thanks.

  179. Amit

    I tried with the above process to extract the data from system but it didnt worked.

    The problem with my system was when i am trying to boot the system it is giving the error:

    Read disk failure
    press CTRL ALT DELETE.

    Please guide me as i have to extract the data from my system.

    Thanks a lot

  180. Predrag

    Thanks for the article. I tried to recover my files from damaged Vista, but unfortunately, it didn’t work. Namely, it opened drive immediately, but it shows no files, although it says that free space is only 445.5MB which is probably right, but doesn’t see anything else. It reports 60GB hard drive, which is correct. Do you happen to have any idea why it doesn’t see any files?

  181. Amit Agrawal

    will this LIve cd work for WIndows XP also..
    please tell me irs urgent

  182. Cephalopod

    I managed to recover the files from my wife’s corrupted HDD using your tutorial.
    Couldn’t get into safe mode, couldn’t run the full recovery to even get to the DOS prompt to run chkdsk.

    This worked just fine and I was able to recover all the important files.
    Appreciated greatly.

  183. Lövet

    I’ve been trying to find a way to back up files from my netbook which is not booting anymore.
    it was running on the included linux version on acer aspire one netbook. I know this guide is for backing up crashed windows’ but I’ve had problems finding anything for my version, so I thought I’d give it a try.

    the booting works fine, but under “computer” I only find one of two internal drives, and I seem to have a similar problem as “predrag” just above here in comments, it shows some files, but not as much as it says that it should be under “properties” and non that I could recognize as my own files.. I find no office documents, no music etc.

    any ideas on what could be done? anyone?

  184. storno

    great, 460 GB of data saved from hdd with bad sectors and missing $Mft. Worked like a charm, took some 20 hours to copy all, booting from CD and storing to external USB hdd but that’s nothing compared to expected >20 days with HDD Regenerator in FreeDOS. Thanks, not my first time with Ubuntu but this time it stays as boot option for sure.

  185. Floof

    Such a life saver. I’m on Vista and its worked perfectly. Now all thats left is to deal with the actual fault in my HDD.

    Thanks for the simple step-by-step too! ^-^

  186. channie

    many thanks to you for making this article. This has helped me so much!

  187. Raundsblue

    Thanks for helping me save my Raid Array data that seemed to be lost forever!

  188. D0UbleF_

    Hey wassup man!
    I’ve got this problem.
    Have Windows Vista.
    Doesn’t want to boot up anymore, it’s getting stucked at begin of the boot and restarts over and over again.
    I detected that the HDD simply can’t start anymore, no idea why.
    I tryed to download this Ubuntu etc and I’m using it right now.
    Problem is the “My Computer” isn’t detecting any HDD at all!!!
    There’s NOTHING. it’s empty.
    What should I do?
    Email me please.<3

  189. John Heinen

    How do I copy a file in opensuse, I heard about drag and drop,how does it work

  190. Pawel

    Better still, install Ubuntu and forget about WIndows… :)

  191. A hopeful XP restorer

    I have got the CD with ubuntu installed and everythin, but there’s one problem: i can’t navigate! I first tried my wireless microsoft arc mouse no no avail, then i tried a hard-wired USB logitech optical which didn’t work either. i then reverted old-school style with a microsoft intellimouse which uses the PS/2 input which did nothing either. i also coulddn’t use my keyboard either, both USB and PS/2…all of this stuff worked fine with my computer before XP messed up, just as a reminder =). please, if anyone could help, i would be forever grateful

  192. Rashflash

    very good, i managed to find my programes but i could not open/find my word docs in my documents?

  193. Shannona

    Wow! This fix just saved me a WHOLE lot of $$$$$$! Works perfect. I copied the User files from my “dead” Vista computer (it supposedly has a faulty hard drive) to an external drive, installed Windows 7 plus some apps on the “dead” computer, then copied the User files I still wanted (photos, music, school docs, etc.). I’m up and running! Hooray!

  194. Ori

    Thank you very much, I was one of the lucky ones to have the drive working on the first try =)
    Now I’m backing up all the files and feeling free to try and fix my unbootable laptop even at the cost of mistakenly formatting it. Hi-Five!

  195. Chs

    Nice article , thx for your information

  196. donkeydoo

    well this page is certainly helpful. ironically I have used this method before, so being in this position again it was a good reminder. I did notice that some flavours of ubuntu did not work well with this process. namely Xubuntu 9.04. all sorts of can’t read errors etc. so i threw in an old ubu 7.10 cd and it works better but i am still getting permission errors on some files like other people here.

    another thing i notice is that like windoze, ubu may not copy all of your files if you have errors in the drag and drop action. to make sure – right click on the top level folder and select properties at the bottom. this will give you the number of files and the size of the folder and contents. do the same with the target folder that you just copied. if they don’t match then go down a level in the folders and check visually for missing folders. you can also redo the drag and drop and just skip the existing folder which were copied properly.

    unfortunately as much as i like ubu i find it’s file handling abilities and i/o resource hangs almost as bad a windoze. not enough to go back but frustrating.

    i have downloaded a copy of open solaris and am hoping that it will be a little more ‘ unix ‘ like in it’s abilites

    good luck.

  197. sid

    I tried fixing using the above approach, however my computer boots into windows all the time, even after I told it to boot from the CD. Please help. :(

  198. goof


    Everything went alright until I try ‘Try ubuntu without any changes to your computer’.

    Nothings seems to happen. How long does it take for the system to start up?


  199. Joel

    The cd and the metod works, it gives access to my hard drive, BUT, it doesnt show all the folders inside of it… Does anyone know why could this be happening?

    I mean, i had 5 folders inside of one of my partition, and it shows 2 (or none in some cases) =/

    What should i do?

  200. Frances

    I have the same issue as ‘goof’: “Everything went alright until I try ‘Try ubuntu without any changes to your computer’.

    Nothings seems to happen. How long does it take for the system to start up?


    Is there a solution?

  201. Nashco

    Saved my ass, thanks a ton!

  202. RickyJo

    Thanks, I’ve been intending to learn how to do this for some time. It worked like a charm.

  203. RobCr

    I have a couple of XP partitions, and I would like to avoid messing with the Boot up choices. Currently I am offered the two XP partitions, and I would like to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.
    Here is my dream –
    I would like to have another partition which can be used by Ubuntu, but does not appear in the start up boot menu.
    To access Ubuntu, I would boot from a CD, and it would know to use that partition.
    By ‘use that partition’, I mean either –
    a) Ubuntu is installed there
    b) Ubuntu uses it to persist settings, data, and applications

    Is that possible ?

  204. martinw

    many thanks – my daughters vista laptop died today, with a missing bcd message.

    couldn’t get the vista cd to boot and restore, so now the ubuntu boot cd is allowing me to copy all the data off her hard drive ready for a format and fresh install of vista (sadly)

  205. Phil

    I notice several comments above about the time needed for “Try ubuntu without any changes to your computer’. This can take several minutes before you will notice anything. Just BE PATIENT.

  206. grateful

    Thank you so much!!! After hours of frustration I found this article. I’m just an ordinary computer user and managed to do this thanks to your clear instructions. You’ve saved me the hassle, time and money of going to a computer technician.

  207. RobCr

    I think I may have answered my own question (SEE my post ‘Mar 18 2010’ above).
    I just tried ‘Puppy Linux’
    It is a LiveCD, that is very small.
    It loads completely into ram.
    That means you can remove the CD, making the CD drawer available for other purposes.
    When you close down, it asks if you would like to save your settings, data, etc to your hard drive (your PC’s Fat32 or NTFS drive).
    So far I am very impressed.

  208. RobCr

    Goof and Frances,
    My first attempt with Ubuntu was the same.
    It was not handling my video properly.
    After you choose the language, you can press F4
    You can then choose to use safe graphics mode.
    That got me in OK.
    Also if any of you have a cheapish KVM, make sure that you avoid using the mouse and keyboard as much as possible, during the boot up, otherwise they may freeze.
    And when you decide to toggle between PC’s, don’t use the KVM physical button, use the keyboard shortcut instead.

  209. Mahsa

    you are a genius, saved my life and money… whoever you are, thank you very very muchhhhhh

  210. Brad

    Linux is brilliant, all my severs run it and it performs flawlessly, the only reason i have a windows pc is for gaming, love it, check out 9.10 for severs and desktops, even a netbook edition, all on the website,
    Have a great day guys,

  211. Pete

    Awesome – worked like a charm. Thank you!!!!

  212. Jack

    So, my laptop broke down, I made the Ubuntu CD, installed it inside Windows, then…nothing. I rebooted and nothing happened. What next? God only knows. I’ve always been hesitant about this operating system. Mind you, something with a name like “Ubuntu” probably isn’t on the cutting edge of technology. I do however thank the makers of this brilliant OS for wasting my time with something so useless it makes Paris Hilton seem overworked and underappreciated.

    Before I take out my hard drive to recover my data and install an *actual* operating system (like WinXP), I’m gonna have a serious talk with a so-called “geek” I know who highly recommended this “solution” to recover my data.

    I guess Linux is a minority for a reason.

  213. chase

    i copied the c: drive from my dead xp desktop to my external hdd. when i plug it into my vista laptop to view the backup files, the folder on my hdd says “Location is not available” says that it may be from another computer or on another network. it claims there is nothing on the folder and that it is empty, but the space is being occupied on the hdd, with seamingly no files…. what the hell.

  214. Adil Hindistan

    My windows 7 crashed today and it refuses to boot, giving me 0xDE (unmountable_boot_drive)… Even windows 7 (boot) dvd did not boot properly and I ended up in a black window where mouse moved but nothing else showed up. I am quite experienced with Windows machines but this is the first time I see it go south so badly.

    As I could not access drives via Windows methods, and all I needed was a couple of settings from my drives, I used my 8.10 ubuntu live cd hoping that I would be able to reach my drives and copy them over to my nas.

    My usual d:\ drive was easily accessible but boot drive was not and your description above for mounting it helped me. Thanks!

  215. Nice Guy

    This article is useful EXCEPT it essentially tells you to use the Ubuntu GUI to navigate the drive’s contents. The GUI is fine only if the hard drive platters have no physical damage. If the hard drive is about to die*, however, the GUI will wear the drive out faster than the command-line. Get a good nerd/techie to handle copying files and directories from near-dead drives using the Linux command-line ONLY.

    And pay the guy well with a free dinner – especially if you are a nice single girl :)

    * What I mean by “about to die” is that there are usually indicators that a drive is about to give up the ghost. Taking forever to boot/login to Windows is a pretty good indicator – especially if the behavior follows a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) with a STOP code that confirms that the hard drive is a possible candidate for failure. (Useful tip: Write BSODs down on a piece of paper and search Google using another computer if possible). Linux may still be able to mount such a drive but you want to treat the drive very delicately because it is on its last legs. Best to leave it up to a technical person than to attempt it yourself – that, and most technical folk dream of finding a nice girl by fixing her computer (the way to a girl’s heart is through her broken computer – the way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach). Also, don’t move the main box around. Under no circumstances should you ever take the computer into Geek Squad. They will do more harm than good, charge you for it, and probably lose all of your data in the process.

    Finally, some people seem to be having issues with external USB hard drives. Ubuntu Linux aggressively caches data written to USB drives and won’t flush the data until the internal buffers are filled or the device has been correctly removed. Windows, on the other hand, tends to write data immediately/quickly but the same thing can happen there too – just less likely. What this means is that you must either shut Linux down (upper right-hand corner of the GUI) or use the “Remove device safely” option. Either approach will force any unwritten data to be written to the drive and then cleanly disconnect the device. Simply pulling the USB cable out of the computer after copying data will likely result in data loss since the data never actually got written to the hardware.

  216. Ian

    Sorry for double posting, I can’t see my comment in this page, that’s why a repost ^^


    Question: How to use Ubuntu Live CD using LAN

    Desktop: Windows XP SP3 [WORKING]
    Laptop: Windows Vista Ultimate SP2 [DEAD]

    I want to access my dead vista laptop using my windows xp desktop with the use of ubuntu live cd through LAN, is this even possible?

    I just want to recover my files >_<
    the DVDrom of the laptop is not working

    ~ Thanks in advance ^^

  217. Peter

    Thanks for the steps so far, brilliant outcome, but now my laptops finally up and running with Ubuntu, I cant find my hard drive anywhere? There are no files whatsoever showing up except the Ubuntu ones… Help!!

  218. Selena

    ok i’m in the burning the CD and i was looking through the ” how to” guide, i’m afraid i’m at a loss for how to type in the codes if i cannot mount the volume of the drive.

    -where do i change the terminal
    -how do i run administrator
    – where do i type the command codes
    -and what am i supposed to type when i reach the “tricky part”—-i’m not quite sure what it means when it says “replace with what’s written in the message box above”

  219. dhruv

    actually the problem is that I followed all the procedure, but I didn’t enter in windows hard drive.after using fdisk -l command I got information about hard drive, but again I was unable to access hard drive file. please suggest me what to do now….Thank you.

  220. OFC

    Brilliant article! I was able to boot up from the Ubuntu Live CD and just double click on my disk drive to get the lost files – proof that as I had expected it was just Windows 7 that got corrupted rather then the hard disk dying on me. THANK YOU Geek and well done Ubuntu!

    Shame on Microsoft… it was their check disk utility that got me in this mess in the first place… the hard drive may have bad clusters, but when trying to fix those you should not completely kill Windows 7 in the process.

  221. Dylan

    Thank You So Much!!!!!

    For a week i’ve been trying to rescue the data for a novel i’m writing

    Thank You!!!

  222. Vee from LiThUaNiA

    Very good program,helped to solve my problem with data recovery. Such app like this looks realy nice and interface design looks very good as well and not worse than windows vista probably. Realy good program to use for such a problems and much more.

  223. abdulr

    thank god i saw thise article itis a savior i had a very old laptop with alot of data. virus struck i cannnot copy past reboot scan for viruses i couldnt connect the old harddrive to an outside anything ubunto did the job
    perfectly i never used it befor but i think iam becoming a fan it is fast
    i hope it is easy to use

  224. Mohit

    My media folder showed “115.3 GB Media” …But when I clicked there I see that there are zero files there and only 10 GB free…However when I open the properties of the folder I see over 100 GB of used space..How do I access my data when its not been shown!?!? Any suggestions..!!

  225. Sly

    @mohit, could it just be hidden on the windows, i mean i had a few school projects hidden because i didn’t want my bro to mess with them and it doesn’t show up for me.

    Now my question is does does ubuntu have a disk image creator so i can just make a clone of my harddrive, like an iso or something? i don’t really feel like restarting all over on RCT3 >.<

  226. Craig Jones

    Excellent article! This website has saved my life on two occasions now, the instructions are easy to follow and I was able to recover all my data both times. Many thanks!

  227. Playafied

    This worked beautifully. I actually didn’t have to go through all the terminal stuff and went straight to transferring my files onto an external hard drive. I thought I lost all my stuff until now. Thanks so much for this tutorial.

  228. Rongeur

    Will this still work with a partitioned hard drive?

  229. Charlotte

    Thank you so much for providing this! I thought I had lost everything *two days* before finals were due to start.

  230. Debra

    Thanks for the tutorial.It was too helpful for me.I use ubuntu and safecopy online backup for anything i want to backup on both my computer and online.And with safecopy backup,if i delete anything by mistake,i can recover them back by just a few clicks.

  231. Russ

    This solution worked great! My windows drive wouldn’t boot, as it apparently has some bad sectors on it, and I’m now in the process of transferring nearly 300K files (93 GB) to my USB external hard drive before trying to do anything further with the bad drive.

    Thank you for providing this solution, and thank you Linux/Ubuntu!!!

  232. Andrew Lee

    Your solution is very good. Windows xp my error (which has a password). In this way I can easily backup my data without the need to have my username password in windows.

    thanks for the solutions you provide.
    Andrew Lee

  233. Avinash

    thanks a lot ,this material helped me in critical situation i work in an defence organisation where data maintenance is very important once my laptop crashed which contains xp sp2 due to some hal.dll file missing i am not able to boot it but after trying many ways atlast i used ubuntu live cd and with this article i used the commands and got back up of that data ,thanks a lot once again
    my suggestion is that can u upload ubuntu command prompt commands and how to use them it will be very help full

  234. Frank

    what if when I open the computer file browser and still I coudn’t see my HDD. How will I force mount it? Thanks

  235. Allan

    Saved my a**.. Thank You (“\(*-*)/”)

  236. Albert

    Does this work if you already installed Ubu on the laptop or does do you have to run it from the CD?

    I am not able to see any HDD only Filesystem :(.
    Any help would be grrrrrreat!


  237. Rob

    I have the same problem as Mohit. “250 GB Hard Disk: HP Pavilion” shows up as an icon. 224.3 GB free space, 0 items, however, properties shows 71.5 MB used. The problem that happened originally was the D: recovery partition was started and a format was begun without warning. I held in the power button to stop it. Now the PC comes up saying “NTLDR MISSING, press any key to restart”. I want my photos from C: drive and someone suggested ubuntu but apparently it’s not seeing any files or I’m just not adept enough at using Ubuntu. I know there are lots of files on the disk because I can boot from a Norton floppy and it’ll go through naming files and checking for viruses for hours. HP tech support said to remove the drive and hook it up to another PC with a SATA to USB adapter. Before I purchase the adapter, I wonder if I would just get the same thing when I look at the drive from the working PC, an icon showing an empty C:Drive. I sure would appreciate some advice.

  238. bruce

    i tried puppy linux and it didn’t work… i couldnt mount the HD, once i actually mounted it i still couldn’t see any files. dunno what the problem was but im trying ubuntu right now and it seems to be working fine. im currently backing up my ‘User’ folder. i only hope it actually copies everything.

  239. Layla

    Hi got a quick question
    How long does it take to burn the info onto the CD???

  240. Swirl

    A total life saver. Thank you!!

  241. Rajiv

    A real life saver! Thanks a lot.

  242. senelole


    This is really gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    with this i was able to take files, music, videos, power point presentation.
    because my windos xp got a virus and it couldn’t boot any more. but i just did what you said and “orale” everything was there, straight up, i didn’t have to go to commands any more(after i was trying to get as much as i could from the pc using DOS mode, which is a pain)I just need to reinstall xp in my pc, which is so easy. no more having a hard time, life saver, Thank you soooooooooo much

  243. Ron

    I used Ubuntu 8.04 on my XP a some time back… Is the new Ubuntu Live CD 10.xx pretty much the same and will it work with XP for sure?

  244. Mike

    I swear by Linux. I own three businesses, one of which is computer repair, and more often than not, I find myself having to use Linux to bail out Windows users with major issues. I do use Windows on my main PC but also run Linux Ubuntu 10 on my laptop. I have four systems running four different OS’s and I can always count on Linux to come to the rescue when there are problems!! This was (is) a FANTASTIC article and I hope it encourages others to check out Linux as well.

    Good day!

    Byte-Size Computer Repair

  245. David Soprano

    I also ran into the dilema of being asked to run chkdsk /f when there is no way to even get to a command prompt. Meaning safe mode doesn’t even begin loading and booting from CD didn’t work. Here’s what I did:

    1. I reboot and hit F2 to go into setup. Set the boot sequence to CD drive first and have your Vista CD in the drive.

    2. I changed my disk type from SATA to RAID/ATA and got a scary warning about reinstalling everything but went ahead anyway. The system will reboot when you make this choice.

    3. Magically booting from CD will work. Select Repair Windows.

    4. It will not automatically find the previous installation (because of changing the disk type). It will then ask you to load the CD with the drivers. I inserted my supplied Dell Driver disc but didn’t know what to choose so I cancelled and hit next.

    5. You will now be presented with some options like Repair, Restore etc. The final option will be command prompt. Select it.

    6. In the CMD window it will root to a new drive like X: and not the C: drive you want to back up.

    7. Run chkdsk C: /f and it will run the check disk command. (replace X: and C: with the respective drives it shows you)

    8. Cancel the windows install when chkdsk is complete. From here you can try your luck logging into Windows again or boot up Ubuntu and proceed with the guide from the article.

    Hope this helps.

  246. transplantedbuckeye

    Thought I was going to have to use a ZIF interface to pull data off a dead XP machine. No need–just followed the instructions above. Nothing lost–except worthless MS timewaster.

  247. Steve Jones

    When I read this article I thought you had saved my life! But nothing is simple…. I have an infected Windows laptop which refuses to be fixed, so I wanted to save important pics and emails before wiping the disk and starting again. When I found this article I created a Ubuntu boot CD (and USB stick), only to find that my laptop’s internal CD writer is dead! So even if i change my boot order in BIOS, it only finds Windows on the harddrive. It doesn’t find the USB stick at bootup either (although it will read a USB stick once windows has started up).

    Can anyone suggest a way around this? I’m no expert, and I know nothing about Linux, but is there a way of starting in Windows XP OS then somehow starting Ubuntu from the memory stick after that? I also have an external DVD/CD writer which could run the Ubuntu boot disc, but again it would have to be after Windows has loaded.

    Thanks in anticipation!

  248. ledab


    Great article! Pics are very useful. Only problem is my HDD doesn’t show up anywhere in Places, it’s like it doesn’t even exist. How can I find it?


  249. The Bagger

    This was exactly what I needed to find while looking for an answer to my problem, I already had an Ubuntu Live disk burnt and in my CD collection. It was a pleasant surprise to find that it could be used to fix my exact problem. My friend had some random check out his computer and when he got it back it was a brick, it would start or whatever but it was missing some super important file to load windows. Now I can wipe it and start over for him and put all his fancy little documents back in place. Thank you very very much sir, you have saved me a load of work.

  250. Schedule

    Best you could edit the webpage name title
    Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer – How-To Geek to something more generic for your subject you create. I liked the the writing all the same.

  251. ryab

    So after I run Places-Computer the only thing that shows up are my USB drives and filesystem..
    My CD/DVD drice and hard drive are not even there??? HELP ASAP!!

  252. Corey

    Hopefully you still look at this comment section since I’m having a problem!

    So my computer has crashed, and I’m unable to boot it up completely due to Startup Repair telling me it can’t do anything about it.

    I’ve burned Ubuntu to a disk and I’ve put it in the disk tray of my broken laptop. However when I turn my computer on the Startup Repair comes up and I don’t know how to get to the Ubuntu screen. (Also I burned it to a usb drive and am having the same problem).

    In the tutorial you said “and boot from IT” “it” being the CD. Am I not supposed to just turn on my laptop via the power button?

    Again, I really hope you can help!

  253. j-rod

    I also got the following error just as others did above in their comments:

    Unable to mount the volume.
    ntfs_attr_pread_i: ntfs_pread failed: input/output error Failed to read NTFS $Bitmap: Input/output error NTFS is either inconsisten, or there is a hardware fault, or it’s a SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very important! If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g. /dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the ‘dmraid’ documentation for more details.

    I am using ubuntu from a thumbdrive since the CD drive doesn’t work so well on the crashed computer. What is this and how do I get around it to recover my c: drive data? I think this article would be improved/up-to-date if it covered this error. HELP!

  254. Julia

    Can anyone add here an actual ImgBurn download link as the one given in the article just brings me to the official ImgBurn website where I just can’t see any DOWNLOAD button . Can anyone help me in this matter?

  255. Gabby

    will this work on a Iomega 320gb USB external hard drive? my drive just stopped working i think my niece dropped it. :( but now it wont work. I called Geek Squad and they quoted me from $250 – $2500 and said that they couldnt gaurauntee it would work. NO REFUNDS! and then i called my IT guy at work who stated there was no chance that i could get my data ( which is very valuable to me.. Pics, school research papers, but most importanly my pictures of my family that can not be replaced).

  256. Sajal Dutta [Saj]

    I am trying to place a shell32.dll file in my Windows XP’s system32 directory. Since I can’t boot up my xp due to an error because of the missing dll file, I booted up my machine on Slax linux from USB. Then trying to copy the dll file to system32 folder. I can write to other directories but not to system32 directory. Any suggestions?

  257. Brandinn Ace

    Ubuntu is the best solution.. makes me want to switch from windows 7.. if only it was compatible with my multi-touch computer.. ive got my files backed up.. now might there be a way to just remove the corrupted driver manually and restore my pc back to where i left off ??

  258. Ihsan

    How we backup driver with double driver from dead windows? Is it possible?

  259. Mark

    Trying to do this on a Fujitsu Amilo L7320.

    Ubuntu 10.10 won’t load, saying something about mounting.
    Ubuntu 10.04 will load, but wants a username and password to try it…

  260. Mark

    never mind, its working now, but the screen res is screwed.

  261. Mark

    It is now demanding a password to share. I do not have a password on the machine.

  262. Gabriel

    what if i can open the drive, but i cannot copy it to my external hard drive because of an input/output error… also, when i navigate throught the drive’s folders, it is really slow and sluggish. What should i do?

  263. xfilescully

    Hi there.. I downloaded Ubuntu and it’s working on my laptop.. but when I get to the area I can look at what’s on my hard drive (documents, pictures, etc.) I don’t see anything.. there is no drive showing except for the CD/DVD drive and the USB drive.. does this mean that I am out of luck?? I’m fearing that my C:\drive and everything on it is gone. Thanks for any insight!

  264. Janusz

    on terminal:sudo fdisk -l. This will return list of installed and accessible! drives (with full details).The last instance is to access BIOS and check if drive is recognized,if not,drive is totally dead or not properly connected.

  265. mini

    when i open my computer i see only file storage… no hard disk driver
    i ll try the rest instruction but something seems to go wrong

    any help will apreciated..

  266. Casey

    I tried this, but when I tried to mount the disk, it said that either ntfs is inconsistent, or there is some other damage. Is there a good way to access this, it says something about repairing the drive in windows.


  267. Sandeep

    My Windows HDD is corrupt, I am able to Logon to TRY UBUNTU, But unable to See my HDD Media. I can See only File System in Places>System.

  268. Vijay

    The same thing for me. My hard disk crashed and I installed ubundu. I can’t see my hard disk drive in the try ubundu option. It just shows “System Files”. How do i solve this issue?


  269. Christy

    Same with Vijay. My hard drive crashed and so when i opened up the “Computer” on Ubuntu, I don’t see my hard drive. What should i do now? o_O The only thing I see is the “System Files”. Some assistance would be wonderful, thanks.


  270. Sachi

    I tried this and this article has been very useful to me. Thank you so much.
    I wanted to share something that I experienced that might help some in the future. I did the same options as suggested in the article and got to the Ubuntu screen which reads “Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer”. After this change, I did not see any screen for a long time but only the cursor. I guess it had to do with the Video display option. When I changed the setting on the UBuntu screen by pressing F4 for mode and applying safe graphics mode then Ubuntu loaded and then I was able to continue with the steps listed in the article.

    Thanks once again for the help.

  271. Matt J.

    This sounds all very find and good, but when I put the LiveCD in the CD drive and boot, it STILL insists on trying to read from the dead disk drive.

    More specifically, no matter which Live CD I use, Fedora, Ubuntu, or SystemRescueCD, during booting the Linux kernel, it insists on talking to the disk drive (which I don’t remember noticing before), and that is the phase that return I/O errors, blocking all further progress.

    So I can run memory tests on the SUT, but I can’t even run the copy of Linux on the Live CD.

    I find this really frustrating. What is the point of -having- the LiveCD copy of Linux if I can’t run it without a working hard disk drive?

  272. Andy

    Followed instructions and worked perfectly. Managed to rescue a Vista HDD data after a new MBOARD was installed and had dreaded BSOD on startup. Got all the data off the disks. Had no issues whatsoever. Thanks for the guide.

  273. Philip

    Great article! Very easy to use. You helped me recover data that i thought was lost. Thank you!

  274. Mark

    THANK YOU SOOOOO F***ING MUUUUUCH!! Im a Musician and I produce and record other ppl… I thought all of our data was lost you just saved my a**!!

  275. Suzanne Hall

    BEST ADVICE EVERRRRRR!. You saved me an incredible amount of do over! Thank you Thank you! Great visuals. Nicely done!

  276. Cheryl Stoy

    Everything is still there on my hubby’s dead XP all his data and files and lucky me, they open when I CLICK the drive…however, when I try to open the external hard drive to copy the data to it, all I get is “Unable To Mount Drive, There is no Media Present”. Why isn’t it reading the drive? And if I use the synaptic package and install g-parted to find out why, will that create data loss?

  277. serene

    thank u for erveything thank u so much.

  278. Jon

    Thank you so much for your help. After a failed SP1 update my laptop decided it didn’t like anything at all and soon decided to stop booting up. I needed to salvage all my photographs and music along with University work and this method proved invaluable.

    Thank you so much, i will spread the good word of Ubuntu and how easy it is to recover files from dead windows systems :)

    Ps: I managed to open the HDD without a need for force opening

  279. LeoM

    i have the same problem of some people here…

    My HardDrive did not show up… there is only the “File System” in the Computer option…
    why is that happenig?? is my hard drive “hardware” broken??


  280. Dee

    Your Article saved all the data from a completely broken down Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Computer.

    I was working for 3 days now to recover all the files of a friend of mine, who never had heard about backups.

    Reasons for Breakdown:
    Installing incompatible software on Windows 7
    Hard drive crash!

    Drive needs to be exchanged, laptop still in warranty

    Your article was the ultmiate solution!

    Unfortunately it took me 3 days to find it, but you are great!

    Thanks from me and my friend who is very very happy that all his pictures and work for school is restored now!


  281. Blue

    There are around 300 posts in this article so forgive me if this was already asked but what if the hard drive you want to back up was infected by a virus? I mean, wouldn’t it the virus infect your back up file as well?

  282. NoNeck

    After almost 3 years from the original post……. this tip STILL is saving people’s A$$es. Like MINE!!!!!!
    Good/easy to follow directions….. storing the “almost gone forever” files on an external HDD as we speak. Thanks again!!!!

  283. franci

    Since it cannot mount the disk As it asks for chkdsk /f or /r… is there any linux ubuntu command that can verify and repari the disk? There must be command like that in an operating system

    Anyone knows about linux check disj commands?

    thanks in advance

    here is the error after having forced the mounting of the HDD

    Error reading $MFT: Input/output error
    Failed to load $MFT: Input/output error
    Failed to mount ‘/dev/sda1’: Input/output error
    NTFS is either inconsistent, or there is a hardware fault, or it’s a
    SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows
    then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very
    important! If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate
    it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g.
    /dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the ‘dmraid’ documentation
    for more details.

  284. Jet

    Thank you! You saved my data with this live CD idea, brilliant! I was lucky, when I loaded the live ubuntu CD and clicked on the drive to open it, it immediately worked. I was able to recover all my data with this live CD idea.

    I was a victim of this error on my Windows XP:

    “STOP: C0000218 {Registry File Failure} The registry cannot load the hive (file):\System Root\System32\Config\SECURITY or its log or alternate. It is corrupt, absent, or not writable.”

    My PC wouldn’t even boot or go into safe-mode, basically nothing happened. Once I turned my laptop on, I would get a message saying “windows failed to start…” etc and when I selected “start windows normally” my laptop would just freeze on that massage. I tried a few things including microsofts method: nothing worked, until I thought about ‘disk partitions’ which got me thinking about “live CDs”. Googled, came to your page and thought it was worth a try. Just wanted to thank you for writing this.

  285. Macharia-Kenya

    Thank you HTG! You saved my data from the dreaded “dead blue screen’! Brilliant…simply brilliant!

  286. Jason

    I can see where my pictures are supposed to be (I see the folder with the sample pictures) but my other IMPORTANT pictures aren’t showing….any suggestions? I can see all sorts of things from Windows so I know it must be working I just don’t see the pictures. Should I just do the backup and assume that the pictures were done as well? I cannot find the pictures anywhere else either and I’m worried I’m SOL. Please help!!! :D Thank you so much

  287. Timo

    Just a quick shout out to say I recovered my files as well as fixed my PC! Was suffering from the dreaded AVGIDSEH.SYS boot hang up and was able to delete the offending files and my netbook lives again! No more AVG for me…what a nightmare…

  288. Scott

    I’m not sure if this is checked any more but I’ve tried this with Win 7 (on a HP Pavilion dv7 4012tx) and Maverick Meerkat (10.10). It starts my computer up no problems. Which is good because I was beginning to think it was a hardware issue.


    While I can view all my drives what I *can’t* view is the one place I want to get into: mu Windows user directory. It says it’s empty. Why that bit would get wiped and nothing else would I don’t know, and my free space is approximately the same (as well as I can remember) as it was prior to this whole BSOD nightmare, but that one directory remains obstinately empty.

    I ASSUME it’s because of some kind of incompatibility between the Win 7 user directory security, and Ubuntu’s ability to see the data, but I’m not sure. And of all the places I want to get to that’s right at the top of the list – it has all my personal data, work, downloads…

    Any help? Please?

  289. tarnie

    I could not find my Windows drive. When I go to Places\Computer the only drive I see is the file system. I don’t now what happen. I took a spy ware in Windows Seven and I just trying to save my old pictures, music, videos, games e every thing else I don’t care any more. Some one can help me please. Once I found my all pictures I want to install Ubuntu definitely.

  290. Chris

    This is killing me!!

    My Windows XP machine has a virus that has disabled Task Manager AND Windows Explorer (which means I can’t access anything). I tried the Kaperksy Rescue Disk which failed to fix it.

    I then got a friend to burn me a Ubuntu Live CD as instructed on this page (which he tried on his PC and worked fine).

    On my laptop, the Ubuntu disk just WILL NOT BOOT. I checked the BIOS settings and made sure order of boot was optical drive first and still nothing.

    I have restarted computer maybe 500 times. I have put the disk in and out and hit every button imaginable. ONCE it came up then hung when I clicked TRY UBUNTI but I have never been able to get it to load again.

    Is there something I am missing here????? How can I force this stupid disk to load!

  291. dan

    I’m trying to fix a friends computer that crashed and the lenovo propritary software is gumming up the works. I got all the way into the folders on the HD, but when i went to grab the pictures and music, there are no files in the folders. Any body have any ideas?

  292. David

    The step by step worked great to let me access the files on the failed boot XP computer. I am ready to back up the files. The external hard drive that I bought is formatted NTFS. The flash drive I used to get into Ubuntu is formatted F32. Should the external drive be reformatted to F32 or is the NTFS good. I have come so far by using this tutorial, I don’t want to screw it up by using the wrong formatted external. Thanks

  293. Mark

    Just wanted to say thanks for this. Very simple to follow and saved all my files when my machine crashed. Absolutely awesome – much appreciated.

  294. Henry

    Could somebody help me please?, The thing is, that my disk has no partitions, and I can’t mount it.

    If i run fdisk -l, then only /dev/sda appears. And because of that, if I run mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sda(or sda1) /media/disk -o force

    This will appear:

    NTFS signature is missing.
    Failed to mount ‘/dev/sda’ Invalid argument
    The device ‘ /dev/sda’ doesn’t seem to have a valid NTFS
    Maybe the wrong device is used? Or the whole disk instead of a
    partition (e.g. /dev/sda, not /dev/sda1)? Or the other way around?

    Please help me, what can I do?, I really want to save my files.

  295. Chloe

    Hi, I’m trying to use Ubuntu Live to back up my files from my Windows 7 laptop. However, when it boots up, it says “Try Using Ubuntu without Installing”, not “Try Ubuntu without changing anything to your computer.” I tried to install this program, but nothing works! The screen goes pitch black, no lights at all. I’ve waited for 30 minutes and nothing works. Please help me :-(

  296. Shani

    what kind of disk do you use? cd or dvd?

  297. ns21

    I AM FACING SAME ISSUE AS MENTIONED BY THESE GUYS, only fileysystem is visible, nothing else.

    This has not been answered by anyone… please help


    i did the exact same thing little ago, yesterday I encountered a problem. I can not see any drive while booting from ubuntu. XP is crashed. but I know, there is hard drive. on computer, it only shows filesystem.

    also, I have admin password in XP, but I believe that as the OS is different, that does not effect and Drive should be visible.

    why it happened , any idea??


    I am having the same problem as Ananta. I don’t see my hard drive. I don’t see that this was answered. Can anyone help?


    Does this work if you already installed Ubu on the laptop or does do you have to run it from the CD?

    I am not able to see any HDD only Filesystem :( .
    Any help would be grrrrrreat!



    So after I run Places-Computer the only thing that shows up are my USB drives and filesystem..
    My CD/DVD drice and hard drive are not even there??? HELP ASAP!!

  298. Heidi

    After I select Computer from the Places menu I receive a different error other than the one listed and there is not any details selection available. The error I receive is the following:

    Could not display “computer:///”.
    Nautilus cannot handle “computer” locations.

    What should I do? There doesn’t seem to be a “mount” issue.

  299. James


    Worked perfectly – saved the bacon.

    Great job. Much appreciated.

  300. Nick

    Great article. Im having one problem though…when I get the the connect to server part (Im trying to just transfer my files striaght to my PC.) Im not sure where to find all the info I need to type in. do I type the info from the crashed computer of the working one? and when I hit connect, it gives me a domain and password. the domain is already filled with workgroup, I have no clue what password its asking for? ANY HELP PLEASE…Thanks guy!

  301. Rodney

    AWESOME! saved my life…. AND MONEY! but i do have a question, since i dont have space on my other hard drive, is there a way i can load ubuntu from CD then take out CD and put a blank one in so that i can save my files? PLEASE HELP BY THIS WEEK

  302. Goo

    AWESOME! saved my life…. AND MONEY! but i do have a question, since i dont have space on my other hard drive, is there a way i can load ubuntu from CD then take out CD and put a blank one in so that i can save my files? PLEASE HELP BY THIS WEEK

  303. Rodney and Goo

    I figured out a different way to transfer all my data, though it did take a day to do the process. thanks again for the great article & as mentioned it save me.

  304. mojo

    After doing a non-destructive recovery on my xp machine- I was no longer able to boot windows–So I used an ubuntu live cd in hopes of retrieving files before re-installing windows; but I doint see any of my files in documents folders…after searching here i also tried accessing ‘hidden’ files, looked for a userdata folder (dont see one), etc…where to next? thx

  305. Chana

    Seconding ns21 (or I guess sixth-ing everyone else) on the inability to see a harddrive listed in the computer folder. I tried the suggestion to open the terminal and check sudo fdisk -l, but the process either failed to compute or I’m missing something because nothing happened when I did.

    My computer in BIOS *does* recognize the harddrive, though. And I had thought that there was free space on my computer, because when I attempt to install Ubuntu via the “Install Ubuntu” option on the load screen (instead of the “run ubuntu on computer without changing any files” one) and either manually partition the disk (or use the default settings), it seems that Ubuntu is recognizing all 500-something free GB of space on my harddrive. So why won’t it show up when I’m booting from the cd?

    I should add that the “Install Ubuntu” method always gets to ~15% on the actual installation process before giving me the error: “Input/output error during read on /dev/sda”, so I thought the problem might have to do with what SATA mode I was operating in (?), but I’m still trying to figure out how to change that on an HP laptop. (;; I’m a nub at this)

    For reference, my computer’s basic information:

    HP Pavilion dv7 Notebook PC
    disk : 500.1 GB ATA TOSHIBA MK5055GS
    processor type: Intel (R) Core (TM) 2 Duo CPU P8600 @ 2.40 GHz
    processor speed: 2400 MHz
    total memory: 6144 MB
    BIOS version: F.26
    factory installed OS: Vista

    Since this probably isn’t the best place to post to get a response, I’ll probably post this in a forum or two (but if I figure it out, I’ll come back and let the others on here know what the solution is).


  306. Anon

    Great how to guide.

    Trying to save someone from Vista SP1 hell, computer wouldn’t boot. Lots of tears fearing loss of photos. Linux and your guide to the rescue!! Managed to recover EVERYTHING.

    Currently have hero status…. :-)

  307. Sammy

    Thank you so much for this life- and money saving program. It took a day to finally figure out the proper way of doing it. In the end, it was worth it; recovering all my files from a crashed HP dv2000 of 4 years. Thank you so much!!!!

  308. Mesh

    This wouldn’t be my first choice of method. I would find it WAY simpler to just pull the HDD out of the computer and toss it into a working computer as a secondary, then pull the files off. Or instead of getting inside the working machine put the HDD into an external HDD case. They cost about $30 and save me a lot of time and totally worth it to have it around.

  309. Jens

    Excellent guide and works perfectly for recovering data after failures caused by viruses, human error, corrupt files, a few failed sectors, etc. However, there are still cases where the disks are physically damaged and you won’t be able to mount your partitions using this method.

    As you’ve tried to install Ubuntu on your failed HD and as such breaking any file system you might have had intact, prior to the install attempts, is long gone. You might be able to recover individual files using different tools, which are not the scope of this guide. There is a more comprehensive guide here:
    I’ve had success using ddrescue and foremost when I’ve had disks fail beyond recognition, but the output is just individual files with random file names, but the tools seem to recognize all the file types correctly. If it’s able to read any file system you might get lucky by getting a folder structure and file names.

    Your disk has probably failed (physically) beyond recognition, or your partition table is broken. You can also try the suggestions i gave Chana.

  310. syamsul rizal

    artikelnya bagus sekali. akan sy download file iso-nya dan akan sy coba. semoga berhasil

  311. Christine

    Thank you so much for this article. Was having a bit of trouble with recovering files considering BSoDs were preventing me from starting Windows. Now I can reformat without losing all my stuff (ie: pictures from Europe… videos… and Elder Scrolls game saves XD), all of which are irreplaceable.


    Also, Ubuntu was so slick to use, I might actually multiboot my desktop.

  312. Mirella Asenoth

    It is takeing forever to move all my files to my external, but I’m just glad I can do it!! This is great!! Will the programs I have downloaded move too? Onto my external and then back onto my computer? Can you even move programs?? Any way, this was great and all you people who are nagging about “stop refering to ubuntu”, this is the program The Geek gave us the FREE link to and the how-to for, so be greatful! Thanks again!!

  313. Brannon

    I get the following message after trying to open the failed hard drive.

    Unable to mount location

    DBus error org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.NoReply: Did not receive a reply. Possible causes include: the remote application did not send a reply, the message bus security policy blocked the reply, the reply timeout expired, or the network connection was broken.

    Where do I go from here?

    I would like to at least get my pictures off this hard drive.



  314. Alisha

    SUPER! but it didn’t work for me :(
    I don’t have the “detail” option under the mount failure msg. Can’t seem to give it any ‘commands’ that will give it to me either. I REALLY need my files; whatt else is new right? Just like everyone else : )
    a fallen Aspire 13mo. old installed UBUNTU 11.4 booted from disc, can’t access files & it seems to have split my hard drive?? shows 2 in the computer one is listed as ‘system reserved’???
    Thanks for any help!

  315. wannbgeekgirl

    THIS is the error msg I receive when trying to mount:

    Mount is denied because the NTFS volume is already exclusively opened.
    The volume may be already mounted, or another software may use it which
    could be identified for example by the help of the ‘fuser’ command.

    Can you help me to get past this so I can get to the hard drive? Thanks for any/all help : )

  316. anne

    The best of how to save files from corrupted Windows PC. I could not reboot my PC after installing some “important” Vista updates last night. It got stuck before the windows login stage. I tried “start up repair” but it froze. I tried to restore the system to an earlier point but it froze. When I tried the second time for a system restore, there were no restore points available. I could not start in safe mode either. I got panicky. I phoned HP tech support since my laptop was from HP and it was just out of their 2 year warranty. They told me it was a windows issue and they would charge me $49.99 to troubleshoot over the phone and the guy said he could not guarante that they could fix anything. In addition, he said my computer harddrive and system files are likely corrupted beyond fix that I should buy a new HP laptop! I told him goodbye and researched on my iphone and find this article. I downloaded ubuntu on a usb stick and change the bios setting. Luckily I am able to get all my personal files out of that HP laptop.


    Thank you. You saved my life mate. I had some music projects that i needed to save and thanks to Linux and you i am saved. Great tutorial

  318. david boring

    or just use knoppix live and not have to worry about force mounting.

  319. Dave

    Hey, had to use ubuntu last year when an ext hard disc crashed, I was able to extract most of the data.
    However now my latop’s hard drive apparently doesn’t work anymore, so the laptop only lets me run diagnostics and stuff.
    Using Ubuntu without any change to the computer doesn’t work, nothing happens, same when trying to install it or checking the disc. Does it mean Ubuntu can’t help when the laptop doesn’t even recognize the hard disc? Could those contacts from the board under the drive be the problem like I read somewhere else?

  320. Bob

    HI Mate. Thanks for sharing. I got my all data from my crashed windows7.
    Good on you.

  321. mehran

    didnt work… ubuntu cant mount ext4 … I dont know how my disc has turned into ext4 … it was ntfs

  322. Danco

    This tutorial is the best thing ever happened to me. I had the same crash on my hard disk (windows operating system), and thanks to your steps I’ve managed to retrieve the whole data (believe me, I just got back from Euro trip and had more than 3000 pictures). And if it wasn’t for this tutorial, I would have lost them.

    Thank you very much!!!

  323. ilBraghi

    Thank you boy!!!!

  324. Jeffrey

    Thanks A lot Geek… I owe you one… XD

  325. Brianne

    Umm….I don’t know if anyone is still paying attention to this anymore, but I have a problem to. When I try to force the drive to mount, it just says “No such file or directory.” Does this mean my files are inaccessible? I suppose it isn’t too bad if they are, most of my stuff is already backed up, but I do have a lot of recent files…

    I also have no idea why my computer crashed, it was completely fine the last time I used it, it’s not that old, and had no physical damage, so I don’t know what happened to it. That makes me wonder if my computer will be fine when I reinstall Windows, or if I need to get a new computer.

  326. Ashish Gandhi

    hey just a query.. i was using windows and my operating system just crashed as the os i ws using ws a demo version..on restrting the laptop, os was not i bought ubuntu live cd and the thing is in places–>computer–> i could find my hard drive..only 2 options wer available,1)cd /dw raw drive and 2)file system.
    Now how do i recover my windows filles on ubuntu?? pls help??

  327. Ashish Gandhi

    just a correction ‘i did not find my hard drive’

  328. Pinky777

    Guys I’ve got a problem!

    When I run the Ubuntu, my mouse and keyboard freeze.
    Any idea about the reason or solution?

    TNX in advance.

  329. Guillermo

    You are a saviour, sir!

    Worked like a charm. Thanks a lot!!!!

  330. Alex

    Just wanted to say thanks. This worked beautifully. I was able to access my hard drive when I double clicked it. Guess I lucked out. Transferred all my files to my thumb drive and I’m ready for a clean install. You da man.

  331. Abhilash

    At one point of time I was hopeless and while searching I found this great article. Thank you so much. I was able to backup my entire data.

  332. byrnieman


    Can someone tell me if I can use a Mac (Mac Book Pro) as “the second computer” that I download Ubuntu to and burn on CD.

    I want to use this method to back up my dead Toshiba A300 running Vista but the only other computer I have is a Mac – can I use this to download Ubuntu and burn the CD??

    Please help!

    Thank you

  333. Imaru

    I’m trying to recover data from my hard disk but I have installed windwos 7 x64. After trying to mount the filesystem disk I’m getting totally different message and the the tutorial is not quite working for me. Could someone tell me what to do or give a link to similar tutorial but for x64.
    Thanks in advance.

  334. Imaru

    I’ve got the same problem as j-rod:
    Unable to mount the volume.
    ntfs_attr_pread_i: ntfs_pread failed: input/output error Failed to read NTFS $Bitmap: Input/output error NTFS is either inconsisten, or there is a hardware fault, or it’s a SoftRAID/FakeRAID hardware. In the first case run chkdsk /f on Windows then reboot into Windows twice. The usage of the /f parameter is very important! If the device is a SoftRAID/FakeRAID then first activate it and mount a different device under the /dev/mapper/ directory, (e.g. /dev/mapper/nvidia_eahaabcc1). Please see the ‘dmraid’ documentation for more details.

    This problem has been bumped few times and nobody answered it. Maybe now someone got an answer.

  335. Johanna

    Hi! I think i need some help here…. so i did this but its a lil different at the beginning cuz i think its a different version. I get other display so i cant find “computer” can you help me?

  336. Joe

    Okay, so i clicked on COMPUTER but my stuff wasnt there….. i mean it only appeared “file system”

    what should i do???

  337. eric

    I did every step as it was drawn out, when I click on ‘my computer’ nothing shows up. Nothing comes up in regards to the information on my HDD. Im not sure whats going on but I know my HDD is working (the light comes on and I can hear it) any help will be greatly appreciated, I dunno if it makes a difference but I’m running a 64bit system. Oh I also typed in fdisk -1 on the command prompt and no numbers came up in regards to how big my HDD is or whether it is fat32 or ntfs (just a note but I know its NTFS)

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