How to Backup Files when Windows Wont Boot

Backup Files without Booting Windows

Do you need to find out how to backup files when Windows wont boot? Learn how to backup files without booting Windows here!

This easy to follow guide will show you how to backup files when Windows is corrupt or wont start. Discover how to back up hard drive when Windows won't boot.


You have a few options if you can't boot into Windows:

  1. Try to fix Windows
  2. Re-install Windows without formatting the hard disk
  3. Format your hard disk and re-install Windows

The advantage of the first two is that your personal files are not deleted. The disadvantage is that your PC will probably still run poorly.

In this guide, we look at how to boot up your PC using an alternative to Windows, and then show you how to backup your personal files or entire hard disk.

You can then follow option #3 - format your PC and install Windows cleanly - which is the best way of sorting out a corrupt PC. After which, you can restore your files.

How to Backup Files when Windows Wont Boot: Step #1

Windows isn't working but you have files you want to backup. So we must boot up your PC using an alternative to Windows. For this task we will run an operating system called Linux and we will run it off a CD, DVD or USB disk (instead of off your hard disk where Windows is installed).

This step must be carried out on a working computer.

The first step is to download a version of Linux. We will then put Linux onto a CD, DVD or USB disk and then run it on the PC which cannot boot Windows.

Follow either one of these guides to learn how to download and install Linux onto:

  1. USB stick or
  2. CD/DVD

How to Backup Files when Windows Wont Boot: Step #2

The rest of this guide should be carried out on the broken computer.

You should now have a copy of Linux on CD, DVD or USB disk. The next step is to boot from this disk, which will open Linux on the computer which is unable to load Windows.

You need to do two things to get your computer to boot from the Linux disk:

  1. Insert the Linux CD, DVD or USB disk, that you just created, into your computer.
  2. Instruct your computer to boot from CD/DVD or USB stick.

With your PC configured to boot from CD/DVD or USB and the Linux disk inserted into your computer, we're ready to run Linux. All you need to do now is switch on your PC and Linux should load. This is what the process looked like when I did it:

How to Backup Files when Windows Wont Boot: Step #3

You need to use Linux to find the files you wish to backup. In Ubuntu Linux there is a "Home" button which, when clicked, opens a file browser.

If you click "File System", and then open the "Host" folder, you should find all of your Windows files.

Personal data is usually stored in one of the following folders, found under "Host":

  • Users [Windows Vista; Windows 7; Windows 8 users]
  • Documents & Settings [Windows XP users]

To backup files or folders, simply copy and paste them onto a USB disk. Alternatively, open Linux's built-in CD/DVD burning software, and burn your data to disc.

How to Backup Files when Windows Wont Boot: Step #4

Once you have backed up all of the data you wanted to keep, you can format your PC and reinstall Windows. Follow the link to learn how to reinstall Windows.


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