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Logger: jake
Date: February 23rd, 2011
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How to Copy Files from a Hard Drive to a USB Drive from a Live CD

The Problem

How do I copy files from a hard drive that won't boot?

How to Troubleshoot Windows Boot Problems using BootMed
How to Image a Damaged Drive with dd-rescue
Tags: usb, hard drive, Flash, Pen, BootMed, External, Copy

The Fix

Summary: This tutorial will take you through copying your files (pictures, documents) from a computer that won't boot to a USB drive, using the BootMed live cd.

Step 1 - Find your Hard Drive

Image 1

On the desktop there is an icon called Computer, double click it.  (Image 1)  You should now see a list of storage devices (hard drives, pen drives, cd-roms, disk drives, etc)  double click on your hard drive.  If you are having trouble figuring out which is your hard drive, here are a few hints:

  • It will probably be the largest, measured in GB (gigabytes), or TB (terabytes)
  • It will most likely include Filesystem in part of its label, (however, it is not the drive labeled only File System).
  • It will not have USB in its label
  • Feel free to open the drives (by double clicking), to see if you can find your files, just click Back to return to the list of drives.

Once you have found your drive, be sure to double click it.

Step 2 - Finding your Data

Image 2

Image 1

Now that you can see your hard drive you need to navigate to where your files are stored. This will depend on the version of Windows you have.

For XP users: Double click "Documents and Settings" (Image 1). The next folder that you need to double click will be the same as your Windows username, in my case it was "Jake". (Image 2) You should now be able to see the folders that contain the majority of your data - "My Documents" and "Desktop".

For Vista/Windows 7 users:

Double click "Users"

You should now be able to see the folders that contain the majority of your data - "Documents", "Pictures", "Videos" and "Music"

Step 3 - Copying your Files

To copy your files, simply drag and drop your files and folders to your pen drive's window.

Additional Resources

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General Comments

2011-06-21 10:42:00Lyle comments:
We see how to find your hard drive, and how to find your files, yet the process stops there. This section is titled "How to copy files from a hard drive to a USB drive from a live PC." Could someone explain the remainder of the process please?

2011-11-19 11:19:24Flashgirl comments:
I agree with the above poster - now what? Could you please finish outlining the process? Also, I'd like to know how to copy my files' settings and everything, not just my docs, pics, etc Thanks

2011-12-12 12:04:45zdanb comments:
I use fabs autobackup. It costs about 7 us and it copies all of your user data and settings, mail,. There is a older version on the Ultimate boot disk for windows software. Other wise as stated just copy your my documents folder. Export your bookmarks from your browser, backup or export your mail and then copy to a external device. Be aware that programs such as quickbooks store your data in the shared or public folder. So it makes sense to copy that as well.