Recover that data!

A while ago one of my pals said he had a computer but it wasn’t working right, it wouldn’t boot up and got stuck. A common problem and he also said that he didn’t need it fixed cause he doesn’t use it much, ‘cept for games so fixing it was not a real priority. Now he did have some pictures he wanted to get out. Cause those are always irreplaceable. And he casually mentioned he was going to take it to Best Buy and have those geeks get them out for him. AHHNAKLHIDIDGHHJJHSAOII!!!!!!!!!! He knows I’m a computer nerd, but to mention that in my face i was like AHHH! You’re gonna waste so much money on them! You can do it yourself you know, and you won’t have to pay a dime. (well he may need to buy an external hard drive and a blank cd) But still, everyone should know how to get data off a “dead” pc. First what is a dead pc?

A dead pc is one that usually and simply won’t work, could be for many reasons, but the most common is Operating System failure. Windows won’t boot. When that happens you could try to fix windows or just take two hours and reinstall it again. But before you do that, you want to get the important data off of it first. (Good normal people make backups every month or every major system change,or when they remember to do so (more on backups in future posts)) If you even bothered to back up important data in the first place, this wouldn’t be a problem. Too late to be scolding you now, let’s get that data out of there!

1. Get an external hard drive. This is not only the easiest but the most efficient way to get data out. You can also use a USB drive or even transfer the data over networked computers! (this is a bit advanced for normal Joes so we’ll do normal USB data transfer)

2. Download on another computer (of course) latest Ubuntu release. http://www.ubuntu.com/ and burn to a cd at a slow speed, the web site explains how to do this. Also if this is to hard for you (don’t feel bad it’s ok) ask your nerdy friends to do this for you or give you an already made Ubuntu live cd.

3. Insert cd into computer, reboot the computer. If all goes well, when you reboot the cd may start up and you will enter Ubuntu land of awsomeness! Skip to step 4. If Ubuntu did not start when you rebooted try again, if again fails and windows keeps trying to start up, look at the screen when your computer starts up. Does it mention something like, “press F12 to select boot device” or “Press Del to select Boot” and then it quickly goes away? If it does, reboot and try to press that special key it tells you and it may bring up a menu that allows you to start from the cd, because that’s what we want to do. Windows is broken remember. So start from cd.
If no message comes up try pressing “tab” on left of keyboard as soon as you computer starts up and you may see more things now. also even then if no clues come up for changing “boot” order we may need to enter the BIOS setup menu in your computer.

(side note) What is boot? In computing, booting (also known as “booting up”) is a bootstrapping process that starts operating systems when the user turns on a computer system. A boot sequence is the initial set of operations that the computer performs when power is switched on. The boot loader typically loads the main operating system for the computer. In this case the Operating system on the CD, not the one on the hard drive.

When it starts up do you ever notice a screen that says (for example) “press F2 to enter Setup” or “del to enter BIOS” these allow you to enter the setup menu, from here you can select the boot devices, using your keyboard navigate to the boot settings and change the priority to boot from cd first then the hard drive second.

This is an example of what a BIOS menu may look like, there are many different types. In here you wanna check any tab menu that may have to do with boot order like i would check the first 4.

After trying all this you should be able to boot into your cd. If you still cannot, then ask someone for help. So finally you should be able to boot into your Ubuntu live cd and we can begin the extraction process.

4. Once the CD boots it’s like a Purple theme, maybe, and click on the Try Ubuntu Now button. Good now a GUI friendly interface should show up. Plug in your USB drive now. A window should pop up displaying it’s contents if it has any. Now on the screen click on “Places” and click on your hard drive. It maybe be named 25.6 GB Filesystem or whatever the size it is. Once it opens wam! There is you hard drive, if you cannot access it, your hard drive may be broken, but that’s rare.

5. Now the hardest part for some people. I am not joking, some people cannot do this next step, it is that hard! Find the files you are trying to recover and drag and drop into the USB external drive. I’m sorry that’s all i can do to help you. I don’t know where you store your stuff, I’m not spying on you! You should know where you store your photos, your music, your stuff on your own computer. Most likely it’s on your Documents folder and you user account settings. When in doubt just save the entire Documents and Settings folder. (Or Users folder in Vista/7) But one thing you should always know is where your files that you are trying to recover are, look for them, once you find them drag and drop into the external hard drive window and you have backed it up!

Drag and drop technology rules! One of these windows can be the hard drive you are trying to revocer from and the other can be the USB drive, use your imagination and imagine youself doing this. Buen trabajo!

6. Safely remove the drive. right click the USB drive on the desktop and click safely remove. Remove. Then plug into good pc and check that all your file are there, once you confirmed it, reinstall Windows on your current computer and you are done fixing your machine! That’s ok if you don’t know how to reinstall Windows on your computer, I’ll show you how to do it some other time.

Thank you for reading, This guide is for one of my friends who wants to try this and save some money, there is no risk in breaking you computer by trying this. And in fact you don’t even have to use only Ubuntu, in one of my earlier posts, i recommended doing the same thing with Puppy linux, much faster, but less user freindly in my own opinion. You can also use other repair cds but i always recommend Linux becasue it’s free and accessible, unlike more illegal repair cds floating around. So know that everythign I mention here is safe and legal, unless mentioned otherwise.

You don’t have to be a brainiac tech dude, you just have to try and play around with your machine. So thanks again for reading and until next time. This is Erik Sanchez. Goodbye.

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About Zerin

But can you show me the source code?

Posted on December 17, 2010, in Computers and Internet, Linux Stuff, Windows and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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