How to recover files from laptop with crashed Windows using Knoppix CD

In this guide I explain how to recover files from a laptop with crashed Windows OS. You can use same technique to recover files from desktop computers. I will be recovering files using Knoppix live Linux CD. You can follow my guide even if you have never used Linux before.

You should be able to use my data recovery guide in one of the following scenarios:
1. Windows OS crashed and your laptop (or desktop) displays BSOD  error (example on the picture below).
2. Your computer got infected with viruses or spyware and will not boot to the desktop.
3.  Windows will not boot because some boot files are missing or corrupted.
4. You forgot password for your user account.
5. Windows will not load because the hard drive has bad sectors or other minor damage.
6. You accidentally deleted or damaged some Windows system files.

In my example I am using Knoppix version 6.0.1 which is the latest one at the time of writing this guide.
Your Knoppix might look different as they release newer versions, but general file recovery steps will be the same.


FILE RECOVERY STEPS:

STEP 1.

Download an ISO image of the latest Knoppix operating system from one of the following Knoppix mirrors.
- Select which server you want to use by the closest location (Download from).
- Select protocol to use, [ftp] or [http] (doesn’t really matter, you can use either one).
- Accept download agreement.
- Select the latest version available and download .iso file on your working computer. Again, in my example I am using Knoppix version 6.0.1.
- Burn .iso image to a CD. If you don’t have burning software installed, you can use CDburnerXP (free software).

Now you’ll have to boot your laptop (desktop) computer form this Knoppix CD.

STEP2.

It’s likely that in your laptop the hard drive listed as first device in the boot menu. If that’s the case, the laptop will not boot from the Knoppix CD automatically. You’ll have to force it boot from the CD/DVD drive.
- Insert Knoppix CD into the optical drive.
- Restart laptop.
- Access boot menu. In many laptops you can press F12 when logo appears on the screen in order to access boot menu.
- Select CD/DVD drive as bootable device and press enter.

Alternatively, you can enter the BIOS setup menu and change boot order in there. Make sure the CD/DVD drive is listed above the hard drive.

STEP 3.

When your laptop starts booting from the Knoppix CD, you’ll see screen similar to one on the picture below. Do not touch anything, just wait.

In a few minute it will boot to the desktop shown on the picture below. Now you are ready to access the hard drive and recover your files.

STEP 4.

Click on My Documents icon in the top left corner. A new window will open.
If the hard drive in your computer is in good working shape, it should be listed in the left pane.
In my example the hard drive name is IBM_PRELOAD (I’m recovering data from a ThinkPad laptop).

If you click on the hard drive, the hard drive content will be listed in the right pane.

Can you see your files? Good!!!
That means there is a chance can recover them.

STEP 5.

I will be recovering files to an external USB flash drive.
You can recover files to an external hard drive but you have to make sure that your hard drive is formatted with FAT32  file system (not NTFS).
You will not be able to copy files to a drive formatted with NTFS.

By default most USB flash drives are formatted with FAT32 file system (FAT16 is OK too).

When you insert your USB flash drive (or external hard drive) into the laptop, it will pop up in the same left pane.

Click on My Document icon again and create a second window.
In the left window I have files located on the laptop hard drive.
In the right window I have files located on the external USB flash drive.

STEP 6.

In the USB flash drive pane create a folder where you want to transfer recovered files.
- Right click on the empty area.
- Select Create New >> Folder.

I created a new folder and called it DATA-RECOVERY.
Click on the newly created folder and open it up.

Now you are ready to transfer files from the hard drive to the external USB flash drive.

Simply drag and drop files from left to right windows and wait until the transfer is complete.

After data transfer is complete, you can unplug the USB flash drive (or external hard drive) from your failed computer and plug it into any other working computer.

The recovered files will be on the drive.

40 comments on “How to recover files from laptop with crashed Windows using Knoppix CD
  1. slw says:

    It took 6 hours to download Knoppix 7.0 (with a free download manager) and then I read it wouldn’t work on systems (2006 or older) – I tried it and it worked. My Toshiba laptop was infected and wouldn’t let me boot in safe mode or any other way. I tried several virus cd’s and the laptop would bypass them. Once I downloaded Knoppix I was able to recover all my music, documents and I was able to find the virus that caused my system to crash. This program is amazingly powerful and worked great!

  2. Roy says:

    I tried to boot from the CD and it came up with an error message
    “sh: can’t access tty; job control turned off” can you please help? Many thanks!!!

  3. Recovery Guy says:

    @ Caleb,

    My Toshiba Satellite A210 goes to black-screen and sais “Operating System Not Found”

    Will this teqnique work for my error?

    Yes, it should work if your hard drive is still in a good working shape.
    Alternatively, you can install the hard drive into the external USB enclosure and connect it to another PC.

  4. Caleb says:

    My Toshiba Satellite A210 goes to black-screen and sais “Operating System Not Found”

    Will this teqnique work for my error?

    Thanks.

  5. jonh nathan says:

    thankyou the guide is best and helpfull. I hope YOU POST ANY MORE IN FUTHER

  6. joanne says:

    i wanna try this one. my laptop displays a black screen saying that my windows didn’t start successfully which may due to hardware and software change. it also displays the options safe mode, safe mode with networking or with command prompt, last known good configuration or start windows normally. but whatever i choose isn’t working. it just returns to that black screen over and over again.
    do you think your solution may help my laptop? are my files really safe if ever i try to do it??
    thank you :)

  7. BT says:

    Your advice was a huge help!!! Knoppix would not work properly on my laptop. It booted to the menu that Greg mentions below. I tried Ubuntu, and it worked perfectly. My network card apparently failed on a Buffalo Linkstation storage server, and I was able to recover all data. Thank you very much.

  8. Recovery Guy says:

    shilva,

    As per the instructions above i downloaded Knoppix mirrors.latest version 6.0.1, i booted my system with this cd, the STEP 3 screen appeared, later after few munites, the screen was showing “out of range”….. i’m not able to proceed further, plz suggest my the way to recover my files…. i’m in need of ur suggestions…

    You can try using an external USB enclosure instead of Knoppix CD.
    Just remove the hard drive from the laptop, install into the enclosure and connect to another working PC.
    Check out this guide: http://www.datarecoverytutorial.com/recover-data-from-failed-laptop-notebook/

  9. shiva says:

    Dear sir/mam,
    As per the instructions above i downloaded Knoppix mirrors.latest version 6.0.1, i booted my system with this cd, the STEP 3 screen appeared, later after few munites, the screen was showing “out of range”….. i’m not able to proceed further, plz suggest my the way to recover my files…. i’m in need of ur suggestions…..and will be waitn for ur rply…….

  10. ;;* I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives great information *~.

  11. Recovery Guy says:

    Greg,

    I booted the cd but did not get the desktop graphical image that you indicated. Instead I got a black screen with a list menu from 0 to 13 (ADRIANE). What am I doing wrong?

    Probably your hardware not supported by this version of Knoppix.
    Try Ubuntu Linux instead.

  12. Greg Geawan says:

    I booted the cd but did not get the desktop graphical image that you indicated. Instead I got a black screen with a list menu from 0 to 13 (ADRIANE). What am I doing wrong?

  13. Ron says:

    Hi,

    Bootoed up with knoppix and it worked perfectly until I discovered it couldn’t mount the main partition on my [broken] hardrive.

    I can see & access the recovery partition.

    Any idea why it can’t mount the main C:/ drive?

  14. Recovery Guy says:

    CS,

    Wil you be able to access the data with an external HD formatted to exFAT instead of FAT32?

    Shouldn’t be a problem.

  15. CS says:

    Wil you be able to access the data with an external HD formatted to exFAT instead of FAT32?

    Thanks in advance

  16. Recovery Guy says:

    Harry,

    You didn’t mention how to get out of Adriane when booting.

    If you just wait, it should start loading Linux automatically.
    Or you can press Enter key.

  17. Harry says:

    You didn’t mention how to get out of Adriane when booting.

  18. Recovery Guy says:

    william lee,

    thank you!
    I just bought a knoppix cd in the hopes of recovering my files. I had no idea how to go about it, although now that I read your guide, it was ridiculously easy.

    You didn’t have to buy Knoppix. The ISO image is available on their website. All you had to do is download the image and burn it on a CD.

  19. william lee says:

    thank you!
    I just bought a knoppix cd in the hopes of recovering my files. I had no idea how to go about it, although now that I read your guide, it was ridiculously easy.

  20. Recovery Guy says:

    me,

    i ve got a hp nc6000. i uninstalled the KAV2009 i had in it so i could install KIS2010. the system refused to turn on afterwards. it doesnt even get to the usual HP screen. any idea of what the problem might be

    I think installing KAV or KIS is not related to the laptop failure, it’s just a coincidence.
    Can you get any video on the screen at all?
    Does the laptop make normal noise when you turn it on?

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