Easily Recover files from your Windows computer using a Linux Live Cd

In this post I will explain how easy it is to recover your files when your system crashes from the dreaded BSOD!

bsod1

A BSOD, also called a STOP Error, will appear when a problem is so serious that Windows will completely stop. A BSOD is usually hardware or driver related but can sometimes be software related. Most BSODs show a STOP code that can be used to help figure out the root cause of the BSOD.

In this guide, I will show you how to easily recover your files, before you attempt any repair of the system! (Better to be safe than sorry!)

A BSOD screen is not the end of your computer! Many people who receive a BSOD believe that their files are lost. This is not the case, YOUR FILES ARE STILL THERE!

WARNING!!!!!!

DO NOT RE-INSTALL WINDOWS, DO NOT FORMAT YOUR HARD DRIVE, DO NOT ATTEMPT REPAIR unless you want to risk loosing your files!

Equipment that you will need to accomplish this:

1. A working computer with internet, that has a CD/DVD Burner
2 . Blank CD or DVD media
3 . Linux Live CD (see Step 2)
4. Removable USB Storage device (either a large USB Stick or External USB Hard Drive)

Step 1

Don’t Panic!!!

panic

BSOD is not the end of the world. Your operating system may be toast, but your documents, images, music, movies, etc. are still on the hard drive.

If you follow these simple steps, you can recover your data like a pro!

Step 2

Download a Linux Live Cd

Using a working computer with a CD/DVD burner you will need to download a Linux Live CD. Linux Live CD’s come in the form of an .ISO file and are generally FREE of charge! These CD/DVD versions can boot your computer from the disk drive without effecting your computers hard drive. They will not install onto your system (unless you choose to), and they will not harm any of your files. Alternatively you can boot your system from a USB drive (if your BIOS supports USB Boot)…details can be found here : PendriveLinux.com.

A good place to find these Live CD’s is a simple Google / Bing search or websites like Distrowatch.com, The LiveCD List or SourceForge.net.

iso

There are many flavors of Linux that you can download, for this example I am going to use Ubuntu.

Step 3

Burn your Linux Live CD .ISO file to a CD/DVD using your favorite burning software.

ALL modern CD/DVD burning software allow you to transform that .ISO file into a nice bootable CD/DVD.

burning

Step 4

Boot your PC using the Linux Live CD

Generally you will insert the CD/DVD into the computer that has the BSOD and reboot the PC. When the system starts to boot, you will hit F10 key on your keyboard and select BOOT OPTIONS. Select the CD/DVD drive and hit the Enter key… You system will start to boot from the Live CD. (Please note that some systems use different keys to get to the boot menu, you can find what key is used by searching your model computer on Google or Bing).

ubuntu

(Select TRY Ubuntu without any change to your computer)

ubuntu1

Your Ubuntu Desktop will look similar to this.

Step 5

Plug in your Storage Media

Once your computer is booted into Ubuntu (or your other flavor of Linux), plug in your USB Stick or External USB Hard Drive.

drives

Step 6

Navigate to the FILE Browser

Select the hard drive that your files are located on. File Browser works similar to Windows Explorer. It is not hard to navigate, you do not need to know Linux Commands!

filebrowser

Select the files that you wish to save, and then Select Copy.

Step 7

Open another window of File Browser

 Locate the USB Stick or USB Hard drive, and PASTE the files that you wish to keep to this drive.

(Do not just Drag and Drop these files, as you will end up only copying links to the files and not the actual files).

Make sure that you locate and copy the following files for each user:
C:\Users\Username\Desktop
C:\Users\Username\Downloads
C:\Users\Username\Favorites
C:\Users\Username\My Documents
C:\Users\Username\My Music (this can take a long time depending on how many files)
C:\Users\Username\My Pictures
C:\Users\Username\My Videos (this can take a long time depending on how many files)

If you have several users on the PC, you will have to check each user’s profile. (Example: C:\Users\Administrator, C:\Users\JoeBob, C:\Users\Randomguy etc).

You will also need to check anywhere else that you may have saved files. If you use a program like QuickBooks, there may be files in that program folder. I generally ask the user what programs they use and search the entire drive, including the root C:\ as some users save files there!

Once all files have been located and copied, you can then proceed to repair the PC. At this time if you need to re-install Windows or re-format the drive you will have all of your data!

Special Note: The files that you have copied, that are located on your USB storage, are set to READ ONLY, once you transfer them to a new or rebuilt system, you will need to open up the properties of the file directories, and “UN-CHECK” the Read Only attribute.

Step 8

Bask in the Glory of being a Data Recovery Pro!

bask

You are now King of the World!

king

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Comments
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  8. Browns says:

    Generally I do not post comments on blogs, but your blog has saved my job!

    My boss’ computer crashed and none of his data was backed up. I used your method and easily recovered his files.

    If not for these instructions, I’d be out of a job for sure.

  9. Lamey says:

    You sir are amazing! My companies main computer that holds their client data crashed. With your simple tutorial, I was able to save all of our data!

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Kelsey says:

    I thought I bricked my computer, my windows crashed, but with your easy to follow instructions, I was able to recover all my pictures, documents, and favorites.

    I am a novice, but your instructions made me look like a pro to my husband!

    I am so greatful that I found this site, you saved me thousands of dollars and helped me save pictures of my kids that are priceless!

  11. buster favencrow says:

    Great writeup!

  12. Garland says:

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  13. Heriberto Nobbe says:

    Very informative. There is a lot of good infromation and advice here.

  14. Manuel Cuevas says:

    hah thanks now I can recover my files and games installers
    I thought linux distribuitions are only used to browse child porn sites.

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  16. Augustina says:

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