Before making any changes to the operating system or hardware of your computer, it is always recommended to back up the main files so that they are not lost in case of an accident. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to do this task, but there is no reason for despair since they can still be recovered in situations of this kind.
For this, one of the most practical and effective solutions is to use Linux to access your HD and save the files that are contained in it. Here’s how to use a Linux distribution to save files to a computer that can not boot Windows:
Before proceeding, you need to explain that the form that will be displayed below will not install Linux on your computer. So, Linux will be run right from a pen-drive and, after saving your files, you can proceed to format the computer and reinstall Windows on it.
Besides these caveats, it is also necessary to say the necessary items to accomplish this task:
- Pendrive with 4GB or more of storage space for Linux distribution. Alternatively, you can use a DVD-R if you have a DVD burner to burn the ISO image;
- A second external hard drive or HDD to back up the files.
Preparing the pen drive or DVD-R
To prepare a pen drive, the easiest way is to have access to a machine that is running Windows installed. For this tutorial, the distribution chosen was Linux Mint with the XFCE graphical environment. Here’s how the process is done:
- Go to the Linux Mint website for this link and download it. If you are in doubt about your processor, download the 32-bit version;
- When you download the distribution, you need to download an extra tool to place it on a USB stick. Rufus is one of the most recommended programs for this, so download it through this link. At the end of the download, run it. The program does not require installation;
- Under “Device”, choose the thumb drive that is in the machine. Now click “Select” and choose the Linux Mint ISO file you downloaded. Finally, click “Start.”
The process of passing the ISO image to a USB stick varies depending on the speed of your device. Once the process is done, you can proceed to the computer that has the files to be saved.
Recovering files with Linux
Before you begin to recover the files from the machine, you must first have the computer start with the Pendrive. To do this, you need to make a change to your BIOS. Look:
- Put the flash drive in the computer and start it by pressing the F2 key repeatedly to enter the BIOS. Depending on the manufacturer of your motherboard, the key used and the BIOS itself may look different than what is illustrated below;
- In General, enter “Boot Sequence” and put the “USB Device” as the first item in the list. In this part, the “Page Up / Down” buttons are usually used. In newer BIOS you should be able to use the mouse;
- Exit the BIOS and save the changes if prompted.
At this point, depending on your computer, Linux Mint may prompt you with a screen asking what you want to do. If this happens to you, choose the option to “Test Linux Mint without installing it”, otherwise the machine will boot Linux directly without installing it.
Once inside the system, the process to recover your files is very simple. So, follow these steps for this:
- Connect the external USB drive or pen drive that will be backed up to the computer;
- In the “Desktop”, double-click “Home”;
- In “Devices”, choose the item that shows the size of the HD that is installed on your computer;
- At this point, you should already see the files that were on your computer, which are ready to be copied to the pen drive.
As an example of this matter, the process will be displayed to retrieve the documents that remain in the “My Documents” folder of Windows, since these files are a little more hidden. Look:
- Still on the screen of the previous step, double click on “Users”;
- Look for your Windows username and double-click on your folder;
- You will now see the “Desktop” folders, which are from “Desktop”, “Documents”, “My Documents” and “Downloads”, which is where your main files are;
- Now, just select what you want, right-click on them and use the “Send to” option, choosing the pen drive or external HD that will be backed up.
Ready! Now, all you have to do is reinstall Windows and then copy your files back to it, since Linux will not change the partition format used by the pen drive.
If you need help, have doubts or concerns, do not hesitate to leave a comment in the comment box below and we will try to help you as soon as possible!