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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.


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

37 Responses

  1. I have the ubuntu on a CD and in my laptop. The screen where I can choose to try it or to install it is up, but when I try to select try it a box pops up telling me “/casper/vmlinuz:file not found” and underneath it says NO Texts! What did I do wrong? Help!

  2. @ sanjay,

    if windows user have a password than ?

    Shouldn’t matter. Linux can read through the Windows password.

  3. if windows user have a password than ???????

    pls answer me plssss

  4. I tried to boot with Ububtu CD but the window XP locked up at the 1st screen with MS logo in the middle. The screen is dimmed or shaded. Anybody know what’s wrong?

  5. Thanks for this tutorial.
    I went through all above but it does not show my internal hard disk from Ubuntu there ,either the bios can’t detect the HD.
    the bios shows only CD drive and flopy disk drive.
    I tried also some of the Hiren’s tools to get access my HD but no lock.
    what is the clean room recovery as you have mentioned on the above?
    please help since I really need my data back.
    Thank you

  6. cj2600

    @ Great,

    After the install i restarted my system. To my greatest surprise, it not show anything in the screen.

    Can you see the Acer welcome screen on startup or there is NO image at all?
    Test your laptop with an external monitor. Can you get image on the external screen?

  7. I have an Acer laptop, 5710. I use window 7,2 days ago, i tried to install Pro Evolution soccer 2011 game. After the install i restarted my system. To my greatest surprise, it not show anything in the screen. What might be the problem sir.

  8. I have a macbook and the other day it just basically stopped working. Whenever I try to turn it on it’ll have a bright screen for a while and then a flashing folder with a question mark, and there will be three small clicking sounds and one high pitched sound. I tried to do what I read on other sites(try repair in a certain program, try this button and that button) but nothing works, I even called some number I found and they said that it sounds really bad and has something to do with my hard drive?
    I have no idea what to do, or who to call to see if someone could recover my data (pics, music, documents etc). Can you please help, do you have any ideas?

  9. Recovering data from falling HDD can be done also by downloading the Hiren’s Boot CD, and using Mini Windows XP boot option from the CD.

  10. These post is for Elsa Maritza Mosquea. Check the ligh on the right side of your HP laptop. Make sure that you have a blue light when pluging the AC Adapter. YOu might have a low battery also with a dead AC adapter and that’s why the laptop keeps restarting by itself.

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