Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker

Retrieving files from a non-booting machine

I spent an hour and a half last night at Ed's, where his machine was refusing to boot - getting to the desktop and then locking completely solid.

After trying MemTest (to check for bad RAM) and a different login (to see if it was something specific to a particular profile), I downloaded a copy of Ubuntu, burnt it to DVD and booted off of it. 

This gave us a working OS without touching the hard drive - and even better, access to the hard drive.  The most important files were word documents - all of his writing.  And as he didn't have a spare hard drive around to get them onto, I needed another way to get them off the machine.

So I installed Dropbox onto it, created an account for him, and then he just dragged the important files into it - at which point it backed them up nigh-instantly onto the Dropbox servers - and mirrored them onto his laptop.

Not so useful for his music/image/video collection, as more than 2GB isn't free, and it would have been a tad slow to copy the files up over their internet connection.  But as a way of getting important small files off of a dead box it worked admirably.

(He's now got his hands on a USB hard drive, so he'll be getting the rest of the files off today - but having a way to get the important ones off ASAP was incredibly handy.)

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