How to extract files using Ubuntu Live on a crashed Windows 7 computer?

Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo March 13, 2013

After filling my HDD without realizing, my laptop containing Windows 7 crashed. I can enter recovery mode and get it back to factory settings, but my second mistake was to not back my files up.

So I’d like to know if I can just download Ubuntu Live, put it on a CD (or does DVD also work?) and simply insert it into my laptop, or wouldn’t that work?

  1. Ben
    August 29, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I haven't tried this on Windows 7 yet. Just in generalbBootable Linux "mini-kernels" are the best. There are a lot out there for sure.

    I started using Clonezilla almost by accident. It's a free imaging tool (AWESOME in itself) but has shell access also! I've used it for quite a few sysadmin-y tasks from changing root password on inherited systems to recovering files from a non-booting Windows computer. Thanks for the tips! I'll have to check your suggestions out, but you know how sysadmins are usually creatures of habit :) And Clonezilla seems to keep up to date with various raid card and hard drive drivers (which makes's an imaging tool)

    Video of me using clonezilla to copy files from non-booting windows laptop

    Video of changing root pass

    March 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Hello, most times than not this works unless your drive is completely dead. Just download/burn the ISO image to a cd/dvd and start the computer from CD/DVD. Once linux loads, you could try an mount the drive or if linux can read it, it will mount by itself. Once drive is mounted it is just a matter of navigating to the folder/drive where the content is and you can burn it to disk or copy it to a flashdrive/external drive.

  3. Eucadio
    March 22, 2013 at 12:04 am

    That is easy just boot onto the live CD or pendrive and the open the partition of your windows installation and then recover your files by copying it to another storage device like a pendrive.

  4. Andrew Yen
    March 21, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    just plug a cd and burn the iso and boot from it... its pretty simaliar to windows... just use right click.

  5. Nitesh Badala
    March 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    run ubantu live with your bootable disk and extract files.Linux provide facility to run live.

  6. Donald Schultz
    March 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    What I have done in the past was this, my son's mother brought me her pc and it would not boot. She had a lot of files on there that she really needed. I slipped in my Ubuntu cd and cranked it up, once booted I went to the windows directory, found the files and transfered them to an external hd. Once that was done I did a clean install of windows and put all her files back on her newly installed windows 7 computer. Very easily done.

  7. Junil Maharjan
    March 14, 2013 at 7:37 am

    create a live usb or cd first. you can create live usb by linux live usb creator or other such tools. then just boot from the usb or cd. then browse for you harddrive and copy them to an external hdd.

  8. Aleksi Kontkanen
    March 14, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Most painless way to transfer files from crashed machine that I use is to use linux distribution called Trinity Rescue Kit ( You can make a file-server of your crashed computer quite easily and copy files from another computer over LAN. Website gives you clear instructions how to do this.
    However this will not work if your hard-drive is damaged or it is encrypted (Or you don't have another computer or LAN) but then neither will any other straightforward method work.
    TRK also provides other great tools to recover your windows machine.

  9. Alan Wade
    March 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Get yourself an internal/external drive adaptor.
    Remove the hard disk from your laptop and plug it into another machine.
    You should now be able to read the drive and copy/save the data you want to keep.

    Once you have copied everything of importance, burn the data to DVD, save you losing it again.

  10. Alan Wade
    March 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    The easiest way that I know of is to take out the hard drive.
    Connect it to another machine and copy/save what ever files you want.
    There are plenty of adaptors about for plugging internal drives to USB, so you shouldnt have a problem there.
    As you save your files to either DVD or Hard disk delete them from the hard drive to prevent yourself from double copying.

  11. Andrew Yen
    March 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I did that using m y ubuntu 12.04 cd and a external drive... i just hooked the drive up and copied all my files as if i was to do that in windows 7...

  12. ha14
    March 13, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer
    In case you get an error message and the file system of the drive is NTFS, try to force to mount the drive like described in the above link.

    hirensboot cd has minixp
    you have wndows xp environment and there are some backup tools inside

    if you formatted the hard drive you need recovery format software

    • John Park
      March 19, 2013 at 6:22 am

      I would like share my personal opinion,

      When you are in the process of reinstalling windows due to these reasons: system/boot files are corrupted, system crash due to hardware/software failure, virus/spyware, system upgrades or updates and other reasons which cause system un-bootable and some important files lost.

      If there are files missing after reinstalling, please stop working. For more information, visit:

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