Save Your Files When Windows Fails

Article Contribution From Steven Dolinar (Tech TNT)

When your computer cannot load Windows or you are having hard drive problems, there are many things that you can do to save your files, such as fixing your Windows installation with the Windows CD, booting up a hard drive file recovery CD onto your computer when it is loading, taking your hard drive to a computer data recovery specialist (this is expensive though), etc. This article will be dealing with running an alternative operating system on your computer to recover your files. You will need to do the first 8 steps on a different computer that has a CD or DVD burner. Technically, what we will be doing is downloading Puppy Linux, burning it to disk, booting it on the computer with the windows problems or bad hard drive, and then attempting to recover files to a flash drive or external hard drive.

Please note: This method will not work very well if you know that you are just having hard drive problems in particular, as even Puppy Linux can have difficulties navigating a bad hard drive. However, it's still worth trying out. Also, if you are having troubles with downloading Puppy Linux and burning it to disc, please view this article Running Puppy Linux On Your Computer for additional details.

1. Download Puppy Linux onto your computer by clicking on the link here and then clicking on the lupu-520.iso or later link on the webpage (the lupu-520.iso might change to lupu-521.iso or higher as the Puppy Linux operating system develops but the later versions of Puppy Linux will work in the same way as the lupu-520 iso).

2. A download window will show up. Make sure to click the Desktop link to the right of this dialog box to save the file onto your desktop. Click the Save button and wait for the file to finish downloading.

3. Once the download has completed, click the link Ashampoo to download some free CD/DVD burning software for your computer. Download the CD/DVD software onto your Desktop as well. Please note: You can use different CD/DVD programs to burn Puppy Linux, but I will use Ashampoo for simplicity across this article.

4. Press Windows key+M and you should see two additional icons on your Desktop. One for the Puppy Linux iso and the other for the free CD/DVD software you just downloaded.

5. Press on the Ashampoo icon to begin to install the free CD/DVD software on your computer. Complete the installation process, making sure to uncheck the Quick Launch icon and MyShampoo toolbar if you do not want those parts of the program on your computer. When the installation completes, check the box saying "Launch Ashampoo Burning Studio 6 FREE" and click on Finish. The program will probably open an internet browser window inviting you to enter your email for special product offers. Enter your email if you wish to, and then close the window.

6. When the program is open, scroll to "Create/Burn Disc Images", click on "Burn a CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc from a Disc Image." This will cause a new window to open in the program. Click "Browse" and then click on the "Desktop" link to view the files on your computer's Desktop. Select the lupu-520.iso or later file and then click on Open.

7. Go back to Ashampoo and then click Next. Enter any type of unused CD/DVD disc into your computer's CD/DVD drive and wait a little while. When the disc has loaded and Ashampoo has verified that the disc is indeed okay, click "Change Options..." found on the bottom right of the Ashampoo window. A dialog box will show up. Select all of the options listed and then change the write speed to 4x or lower if burning the iso onto DVD and 24x or lower if burning the iso onto CD to ensure the disc burns properly. Click OK to close this dialog box and then click on either the "Write DVD" or "Write CD" button on the Ashampoo window. If you have a laptop, set it to High Performance and plug it in an electricity outlet BEFORE you begin burning the disc. These are good practises to do to ensure that your disc burns properly.

8. After the disc has been properly burned, the computer will then verify you that the "CD image recorded and verified successfully!" or "DVD image recorded and verified successfully!" with a dialog box and the computer program will probably then eject the disc for you.

9. Insert the Puppy Linux disc inside the CD/DVD drive of the computer that has Windows problems or a bad hard drive. Make sure to wait 5 seconds for normal startup. The disc will then begin to automatically start up Puppy Linux. Please note: This is assuming your computer's BIOS is set to boot up CD's or DVD's first before booting from the hard drive. If Windows still attempts to load up, you will have to go in your computer's BIOS to set the CD/DVD drive as the first startup device. When Puppy Linux loads up, please do not be shocked by it's apparent DOS-like appearance. It will not harm your computer. However, please know that you should NEVER interrupt the startup or shutdown process of Puppy Linux or any versions of Linux as it can mess up your computer. This includes pressing random keys and turning the computer off.

10. Once Puppy Linux has loaded, click once on the "Mount" icon that is third from the left on your screen. This will "probe your hardware" and load a small program on the computer called Pmount Puppy Drive Mounter. Click on the drive tab and click "Mount" on the hard drive you wish to recover from that is listed there (don't be worried if your hard drive has a strange name). This will open a window showing all of the files Puppy Linux sees on that particular hard drive partition. If you wish to recover your files using a USB, plug in a USB device into your computer and then click REFRESH on the Pmount Puppy Drive Mounter program (the program may be hidden behind the open hard drive contents window). Click on the "usbdrv" tab and then click "Mount" to view whatever is on your USB drive. To copy things from your hard drive to your USB drive, make sure you now have both your hard drive and USB drive windows open, make a box with your mouse around any objects you wish to copy from your hard drive and then drag the selected files/folders over to your USB drive window, and click Copy.

Please note: You can also use an external hard drive rather than a USB by simply plugging an external hard drive into your computer and then mounting it.

Once you have completed copying files from your hard drive, your recovery of files is complete. Click on Menu, Shutdown, and then click on Power-off Computer. Puppy Linux will begin to terminate its processes and your computer will turn off automatically. You have now successfully recovered all those files from your computer onto a USB drive or external hard drive. Nothing on your computer will have been affected by running Puppy Linux (unless you specifically did something in Puppy Linux on purpose) as it ran from your computer's RAM while you were using it. Thanks for reading my article on how to save your files when Windows fails.

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