I see it all of the time. A clients hard drive will no longer boot up into the Operating System and panic sets in! When I go to their home the first question to me is always the same: Can you save my data?
Usually I can. Even though a hard drive will not load the Operating System, I can usually access the data on the drive in one of two ways. The first method that I try is listed below (I prefer this method because I don’t have to remove the defective hard drive from the machine).
1) Download the latest release of Puppy Linux
2) Burn the Puppy .iso file image to a CD disc (I use CDBurnerXP to do this)
3) Boot up your computer using the Puppy CD (make sure that the computer BIOS is set to boot from the CD drive)
4) When the Puppy desktop appears you will see a hard drive “mount” icon (upper left hand corner of screen – see above image)
5) Click on the “mount” icon and you will see the the hard drive that you are trying to access (most likely called sda1)
6) Click on the “mount” button (just to the right of the sda1 drive). You will now see all of the files from the failed HD
Now That You See The Precious Data, You Have To Transfer It To Another Storage Device:
7) Plug in an external usb hard drive (or flash drive) and press “refresh” (bottom of Puppy Mount Loader window)
8) Repeat step #6 (but this time click the “mount” button to the right of the usb drive that you just plugged in)
9) You now have two windows open. One is the usb external storage device and one is the failed computer hard drive
10) Now just drag and drop the hard drive files into the usb external storage device, restart the PC, and you have recovered the data!
Professor Randy says: Recover your clients data from a defective hard drive and they will love you forever! The above method using a Puppy Linux live CD makes the recovery process a snap!