Booting from Linux CD to recover data from busted hard drive


Posts: 348   +1
What distro of Linux is the best for booting from and recovering data from an otherwise inaccessible hard drive? I've heard Knoppix is good but in there link I wasn't exactly sure which one I wanted to download, for example what is meant by boot only version?


Posts: 10,605   +464
Generally the point of booting off a linux disk is just so you have an OS to boot into that isn't on the failing drive (as is often the case when people are asking this question). So really, any linux or WinPE type disk should do the trick. The key issue is, if the drive doesn't mount properly then what software/methods are you going to use to try and access the data?

That is a question I don't know the answer to. I have done it before with some software on Hirens Boot CD but I forget what I used, fortunately I do it so infrequently that I have the problem of not remembering.


Posts: 348   +1
Ok it boots into Linux but I'm not very knowledgeable about Linux from the command line. How do I navigate to the Windows files and copy them to the memory stick?


I've used Knoppix for this chore which gives you a GUI interface and thus avoid all linux issues :)

* get the source directory in one window and move it left half of the screen.
navigate to the directory with the contents you wish to save & open it

*get the target USB thumb drive in a second window in the righ half of the screen
create a target directory on this device [say RECOVERED] and open it

*Now, one-bye-one drag-n-drop every folder in the source(left) window into the right window
(you're copying folder by folder to keep control of where you are and what is completed).

*Then you can copy the files in the source to the recovery device with a multi-select, d-n-d as the last step.


ASSUMING you wish to recover only user files,
the "source dir" would be the users profile (%userprofile%) location

for XP:- \Documents and Settings\whateverLogin\ and look for My Documents

for Vista and Win/7:- \Users\whateverLogin and look for My Documents

The USB target device and the original HD you are attempting to recover are both mounted devices. Finding these will be slightly different in each Linux distribution.

As I recall, Knoppix will give you a desktop Icon for each