How to recover files after OS crashed

posted in: Data recovery | 37

In this guide I explain how to recover files from a laptop (or desktop PC) with crashed, failed, damaged operating system.

WHEN CAN YOU USE THIS RECOVERY GUIDE?



1. The guide will work if the OS is damaged but the computer hardware still works fine.
2. The guide might work if the hard drive has some minor damage, like a few bad sectors.

PREPARING FOR RECOVERY

For this recovery I’ll be using a Ubuntu CD (Linux OS). Also, you can create a bootable Ubuntu USB flash drive. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Linux guru for that. The Linux interface will be very similar to Windows OS.

You need another working computer to download and create a bootable CD or USB drive.

1. Download the latest version of Ubuntu OS here. When you click on the download button you’ll start downloading an ISO image.

2. Burn this ISO image on a CD or create a bootable USB stick. It’s explained on the same download page, just scroll a little bit down.

3. Find the target drive where you going to save recovered files. You can use an external hard drive or USB flash drive. The target drive can be formatted with any common Windows file system: FAT, FAT32, NTFS.

DATA RECOVERY PROCESS

STEP 1.
Boot your laptop from the Ubuntu CD or USB.
If the computer keeps trying to boot from the internal hard drive, you’ll have to enter the BIOS setup menu and change the boot order. Set your CD/DVD drive or USB stick as first device in the boot order. Safe changes and restart the computer.

From my experience, Ubuntu OS works fine with most laptop and desktop PC hardware and you shouldn’t have any problem booting it to the desktop. It may not work if your computer hardware is too new.

STEP 2.
The computer will start booting from the CD or USB stick.
Now read carefully!
After some time a welcome screen will pop up. On this screen you can choose your language and choose between two options: Try Ubuntu and Install Ubuntu.
Select Try Ubuntu. The Linux OS will run directly from the CD or USB stick without changing any files on the hard drive.

STEP 3.
Ubuntu OS will continue loading and after a while you’ll boot to the desktop, as it shown on the following picture.

STEP 4.
In order to access the internal hard drive, you click on Places in the top toolbar. You should see your internal hard drive in the drop down menu under the Computer.

STEP 5.
When you click on the internal hard drive a new window will open up. In this window you’ll see all files located on the hard drive.

Files on hard drive

STEP 6.
Now plug in your target drive into the computer.
Another window will pop up. In this window you’ll see files located on the external drive. In my case I have no files on the external drive, that’s why the window is empty.
You can move windows same way you do it in Windows OS. Arrange both windows as you like.

STEP 7.
Finally, drag and drop needed files from the internal hard drive to the external drive.
After the transfer is done, you can unplug the external drive and use it on any other computer.

IF YOU HAVE FAILED HARDWARE

In case if your computer hardware failed, you should try recovery with external USB enclosure.



37 Responses

  1. cj2600

    @ John,

    My laptop is HP Compaq nc6320. When I turn it on, laptop doesn’t recognize HDD. The problem is that it worked a week ago so i don’t know whats the problem. I tried this guide but it didn’t worked. Furthermore when I started laptop from Windows 7 installation dvd it showed that my HDD is EMPTY.

    It’s not very clear. In the first part or your description you said the hard drive wasn’t recognizes. In the second part you said the hard drive appeared to be empty.
    If the hard drive is recognized in the BIOS but Windows says it’s not formatted, apparently the file structure has been damaged badly but you still have a chance to recover data.
    You can scan the hard drive with data recovery software (I’m using GetDataBack from Runtime Software). Again, it will work if the hard drive still spins and recognized in the BIOS.
    If the hard drive is NOT recognized in the BIOS and the computer doesn’t see it at all, your only chance to get the data back will be clean room recovery.

  2. Great and very helpful tips of recover files from computer with crushed operating system. It is very helpful to me because i also using Linux OS.

  3. My laptop is HP Compaq nc6320. When I turn it on, laptop doesn’t recognize HDD. The problem is that it worked a week ago so i don’t know whats the problem. I tried this guide but it didn’t worked. Furthermore when I started laptop from Windows 7 installation dvd it showed that my HDD is EMPTY. Please, Help!!!

  4. cj2600

    Kelly,

    I restarted again and ran my diagnostic tool. I displaced DST short test status fail. Error log and no had drive detected.

    Try reconnecting the hard drive. Remove it from the laptop and install back in.
    After that make sure the hard drive detected in the BIOS and run Dell diagnostics utility again.
    If the hard drive fails test, most likely the hard drive is bad and has to be replaced.

  5. Kelly

    My laptop is a dell d620. I format my drive and left the partition but when i tried to reinstall a new windows 7 it just keep on loading till it shows there is no source disk found. I removed it and placed it back, then it just stoped. I removed d windows 7 cd restart my system and placed an xp cd. After it finished loading press install new. Then it displaced format stil leaving the partition and format just the c drive with ntfs file system but when it get to 7% it stop loading for more than an hour thirty minutes. I restarted again and ran my diagnostic tool. I displaced DST short test status fail. Error log and no had drive detected. Even though i see my hard drive flashing light. What do i do please help.

  6. cj2600

    bird,

    when i try to load it it ways either launch repair kit or start windows normally… when i hit start windows normally it says its loading but after 5 min or so it goes back to the the 2 options but when i hit repair kit it doesnt work either

    Could be software related failure.
    Here’s something to try.

    Turn on your computer and press F8 a few times as soon as you get logo on the screen. You’ll get to the page with boom options.
    1. Try “Last Known Good Configuration”.
    2. If it doesn’t work, try Safe Mode. If you can boot in Safe Mode use system restore and revert it back to the time when Windows was loading properly.

  7. ok so my computer was working fine its a laptop and idk the model or w/e but ive had it for at least 4 yrs and my itunes and such was on it when i try to load it it ways either launch repair kit or start windows normally… when i hit start windows normally it says its loading but after 5 min or so it goes back to the the 2 options but when i hit repair kit it doesnt work either help

  8. Hi.
    The most probable cause is the motherboard.

  9. Elsa Maritza Mosquea

    Hi, I have a HP Pavilion dv6000 my dad bought it in 2007. My laptop is been having a problem since Monday and i don’t know this is happening because it is a good laptop. When i try to turn it on it turns off by itself and tries turn on again but keeps on turning off and i don’t understand why is doing that. Why is it turning off and on without showing anything in the screen? What can i do to fix it? Is the problem in the hardware?

  10. I have been seeing people use Ubuntu a lot now. Great article. I think there are some laptops that won’t support Ubuntu though. Have you heard anything about this?

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