Saving your Windows Data with an Ubuntu CD

I've found I get angriest when my expectations get altered. I think I"m going to have a nice leisurely weekend, and my computer loses a hard drive. Losing a hard drive is a slow, gnawing, exasperating pain. If you have data that you need like company books, tax or investment information and you lose that, there is a good chance that you've got addtional work to restore that data, or even more painful, recreate it from paper records.

It takes a good 12 hours or more to recover, reformatting or replacing disk drives, reloading the operating system, the drivers, your application software, and hopefully, your backed up data. Most folks, chuck it all, and buy a new computer, but even that takes time to shop, and you still need to reload applications and data. Then there is the expense of buying a new computer, or disk drive, or application software.

I lost my hard drive, because somehow my boot sector got corrupted. I found there are work arounds to repairing boot sectors, but a good majority of the time, you end up reformatting your disk and losing your data. I find myself getting more and more mad at Microsoft's stupid, difficult to understand what's going on menu choices, or menu choices that you want to be there, but you can't get there unless you reformat the drive. I get irritated, because there could have been an easier way of doing all this.

You wonder why it takes so long, I counted over 40 application programs I use regularly on Windows. All of them need to be reloaded. Of those 40, eight of them are there only for Windows security. I'm talking anti-virus, firewall, disk cleaners, registry checkers, and malware removers. I trust them more that I do Windows security updates, which to me, just slow down my computer.

If you have ever considered Ubuntu, or any of the Linux distros, now's the time that they come to mind. And actually, because they came to mind, I was able to save all my data before having to blow it all away. Here's a reason to make yourself an Ubuntu boot disk, and try Ubuntu out, before your next disk problem.

Ubuntu sets up its boot disk so you can boot from the disk without altering the contents of your computer. This was a very smart move on their part. If you'd like to try their operating system environment without messing up your computer, make yourself an Ubuntu CD, load the disk in your CD drive and reboot. Up comes Ubuntu, without accessing your hard drive.

What's nice about booting Ubuntu from disk is it has a file like explorer window that shows you the contents of your hard drive with all your files and folders. It is a full fledged file explorer, and you can copy files from one disk to another. That's right, even though your running Ubuntu, you can copy your Windows files. There's a good chance, even though, Windows cannot access your corrupted disk files, Ubuntu can. In my case, since the problem was in my boot sector, there was nothing wrong with any other portion of my disk and I had access to all my files.

I happen to have a 400Gb external USB drive that I use for just this type of backup situation. If you want you can take your entire drive to your external drive and your data is safe, but that's probably overkill, go get your data. If you don't have a large external USB drive, I recommend you purchase one. You'll be surprised how handy they are when you need them.

And if you'd like to make yourself an Ubuntu boot CD, not DVD, download the Ubuntu desktop from the web site. It comes down as an iso file, download an isoburner, InfraRecorder, burn your CD. Try it out, you may find that Ubuntu is a very nice operating system. If you like to know a bit more about creating an Ubuntu cd, I've written a previous article on this topic, where I've discussed how to do this in detail and why you want a CD instead of a DVD.

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