This Guide is Obsolete and has been Updated see Data Recovery Using Fedora.
Why Recover your Data Using Fedora?
This guide has a complimentary video tutorial.
Data Recovery using Linux Fedora is worthwhile doing in 3 cases:
- Hardware Failure – The Linux Live USB has a higher chance of being able to read data off and hence salvage data from a failed hard drive. Unlike booting from Windows, it can be ran directly from the USB and the drive can be accessed in the system without use of an external enclosure. The state of the data and the chances of getting off the drive depend on how severe the hardware failure is; for a failing hard drive this protocol should be carried out as soon as possible (as the longer you leave it, the more likely you will be unable to recover your data). However there is no guarantee that this will work and results will vary depending on how badly the drive has failed.
- System Won't Boot – If the diagnostics pass and the OS you are reinstalling is Windows Vista or later, you may reinstall Windows and recover your data via the Windows.old folder. However if you don’t want to take any chances with your data you may want to attempt to recover it before Windows installation you may want to use the Linux Live USB. For Reinstallation of Windows XP (unrecommended as XP has reached End of Life) use the Fedora Linux Live USB as there is no Windows.old folder.
- Severe Malware/Virus/Trojan/Spyware infection. Programs and applications designed for Windows typically won't launch or execute on a Linux environment. Malware/Viruses and Spyware are programs albeit rogue programs. Therefore its a good idea to copy data from a system using a Linux Live USB because it reduces the chances of the Malware from acting and spreading to your external hard drive or preventing the data transfer.
For this you need:
- an external hard drive
- a USB flash drive
You will need to prepare the Bootable USB/DVD on a working computer.
Creating a Fedora Live USB
Double click the Rufus application on the Desktop or within downloads:
Select your USB device:
Select Load Image:
Select your Fedora .iso. In this case I am using the 64 Bit .iso. Only use this if your system is 64 Bit compatible, otherwise use the 32 Bit .iso.
Select MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI computers. This bootable live USB will work for both a UEFI BIOS and a MBR BIOS:
Select Ok at the warning
Fedora will copy the files to the USB stick:
When finished Rufus will display done to the bottom left and may now be closed. The bootable USB will now be ready for use:
Insert the Fedora USB flash drive into your problem system. Also insert the external hard drive into a USB port of your problem system.
Power down your computer if not already powered down and wait at least 10 seconds before powering it back up.
Boot from the Linux Live USB
Hold F12 while powering up your computer (at the Dell BIOs screen).
Press the ↓ arrow and select your Fedora USB Flash Drive and press [Enter]
Fedora will automatically boot "Live" if left:
Select try fedora. We don't want to install Fedora especially on a failing hard drive:
Select close at the welcome to Fedora menu.
Select activities at the top to open the sidebar. Select the filing cabinet to open up Fedora Explorer.
Select your Windows hard drive, it may just be called "xxx GB Volume".
If you get an error message like the following:
"Unable to access "xxx GB Volume" The NTFS partition is an unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown Windows fully (no hibernation or fast restarting), or mount the volume read-only with the 'ro' mount option.
To the top left click Activities and then left click Show Applications:
To the right, select the orb to move down to the next screen or applications:
Left click Utilities:
Left Click Disks:
To the left ensure you have your Windows HDD/SSD selected:
Select the largest partition by left clicking on it and left click the settings crank:
Select Edit Mount Settings:
Turn Automatic Mount Options off:
Left click the field:
At the end add ,ro with no spaces (comma) so it says:
Select ok and now your Windows HDD/SSD will be read only allowing you to copy the data from it.
Copy your Data from Windows Vista/7/8.1/10
For a Windows Vista/7/8.1 or later install. Navigate to the Users folder.
Then select your "username" in this case default.
Copy your Data from Windows XP
For a Windows XP install. Navigate to Documents and Settings:
Then select your "username" in this case default.
Select My Documents, Desktop and Favourites. Note in Windows XP, My Music, My Pictures and in some cases My Videos are subfolders of My Documents.
Paste your Data onto your External HardDrive
Hold down [Ctrl] and left click Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Favourites, Links, Music, Pictures, Saved Games and Videos.
Press [Ctrl] and [c] to copy.
Select your external hard drive and right click it and select "Open In New Window"
Aerosnap the Window of your external hard drive to the right by pressing [Windows] and [→]
Aerosnap the Window of your Windows Drive to the left by pressing [Windows] and [←]
Drag and drop the Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Favourites, Links, Music, Pictures, Saved Games and Videos from the left to the right or press [Ctrl] and [v] to paste to the external hard drive.
Have a look throughout your drive to see if there is anything else you need to copy over.
When you are down, navigate to the top right and select the power options. Select ShutDown.
You should use an external hard drive (preferably more than 1) to periodically backup your files/folders.
You should also consider using an online service such as OneDrive for really important files. See Microsoft Office and OneDrive for more details.
Windows XP has reached End of Life and should no be longer be used.
New Hard Drive or Wiping your Old HardDrive
For those whose hard drive has failed, they should look to installing a new drive, preferably a Solid State Drive. For more information see Upgrading to a Solid State Drive. It is more expensive per GB but has a significant boost in terms of overall system performance. Windows should be installed with a clean install. See A Clean Install of Windows.
For those with working hard drives if you suspect Malware has caused the issue, un-attach any external hard drives or USB sticks with user data and securely wipe your system. For more information see Cleaning up a Drive.
Ensure to scan your external hard drive on a fully patched system with Malwarebytes' Antimalware for more information see MalwareBytes' AntiMalware. Windows should be installed with a clean install. See A Clean Install of Windows and WIndows 10 is recommended. Note as Windows XP has reached End of Life; Windows XP users are recommended to avoid continued use of Windows XP as its unsecure and likely one of the main reasons you were infected.