How to recover your Windows files when nothing helps any more

22/06/2012 at 1:26 pm Plaats een reactie

Today, I had a fine case of  recovering Windows files from a corrupt Windows installation. The Windows OS (Vista…) would hang completely after a couple of minutes of operation, so files could not be copied from within Windows. My colleague suspected an imminent hard disk failure, so we had to remove the vital data from the machine. Everything had been attempted to create a clone, a backup, whatever, from the disk…nothing had been succesful so far.

I suggested to give it a try with an Ubuntu live CD. The idea was to try to mount the somewhat damaged partition within Ubuntu, and copy important files to an external disk. So we downloaded the live CD Ubuntu 12.04 from the Ubuntu web site, burned the live CD iso  file on CD, and started the CD. An Ubuntu live CD can be used to test Ubuntu without installing it to the hard disk.
Within our temporary desktop, I started GParted. GParted is an outstanding partition manager. To start it, I just had to click on the Ubuntu Dash and type in the word part. Ubuntu will find the right program for you rightaway.
Within GParted, I was able to see that the damaged NTFS partition was recognized as /dev/sda3. If the data had been on a D or E drive, of course, this would have been sda4, etc.  I created a temporary folder “temp”. Next, I had to give the following terminal console command to have all the Windows files visible in Ubuntu:

sudo mount /dev/sda3 temp (enter) <- this makes a link to the partition on the temp folder
cd temp (enter) <- go into the folder
nautilus . <- Don’t forget the .  , it means “current folder”; open the folder in file manager

Next, I just had to plug in an external hard disk, and voilà, I was able to copy almost all files. Problematic files residing on the damaged blocks were reported and I was able to skip them; this way, we were able to save 99% of the data.

So if you’re a Windows user and you have a problematic Windows installation…try to recover your files with the Ubuntu 12.04 live CD. And while you’re at it…have a look around on the Ubuntu 12.04 live CD. It’s quite impressive…

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A couple of tips on how to recover from a failed Ubuntu upgrade Upgrading from Ubuntu 11.10 to Ubuntu 12.04

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