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Knoppix: Getting data off of a dead hard drive

June 1, 2012 by Sara Nagreen

If you have a Windows formatted hard drive that will not boot, and you need to rescue data from it, you can use Knoppix to do this.

Get the Knoppix CD from the TechZone. (or get your own from the Knoppix website)

Put it in the system's CD tray. Make sure to adjust the BIOS to boot from CD. Attach the USB hard drive to the system.

Reboot. When you get a prompt that looks like this:


Hit Enter.

Your system will boot a fully functional Linux installation. It runs off of the CD and the RAM.

You'll eventually get to a KDE interface that looks a lot like Windows. You should be able to see your hard drives on the desktop. Your computer's IDE hard drive(s) can be found under hda1, hda2 or hdb1 or hdb2. Your USB hard drives can be found under sda5 or sda6.

Next, you need to mount the hard drives you need. Determine which of the hard drives on your desktop is the one that needs backing up. Right click it and choose mount. You should be able to open it and view the contents.

Next, you need to mount the USB hard drive partitions you want to copy to.

Next, we need to make the partition you want to use (SDA5 or SDA6) writable. Right click and choose Enable Read/Write mode. It will ask if you are sure. Click Yes.

You should be able to drag from the HDA1, HDA2, HDB1 or HDB2 (which are the IDE interfaces) to the USB hard drive you have mounted and made writable (SDA5 or SDA6).

Just drag and drop from the computers hard drive to the USB hard drive to make a backup.


That's all you need to can also do this with a command line....

After doing the mounting and making readable described above, open a terminal or command prompt.

When you get a prompt, you'll need to type this to look at your source partition. (The one you want to copy from)

Cd /mnt/hda1


Cd /mnt/hda2


CD /mnt/hdb1


CD /mnt/hdb2

Depending on which hard drive it is.

Then, determine which is your destination partition (SDA5 or SDA6) on the USB hard drive.

Go into that.

CD /mnt/sda5


CD /mnt/sda6

And type

Mkdir name_of_folder

So, if you were making a backup for a person named George, your command might be mkdir george

And you would have a folder for a George's hard drive.

Okay, so now all you need to do is to copy from the source to the destination. Here's the command for that.

cp -R /mnt/hdXX/* /mnt/sdaX/name_of_folder/

Of course, you'll need to change the X's in this example to align with your hard drives and point it to the folder name you just created.

It takes a while, but it copies byte for byte and you can leave it running overnight.

Updated: June 3, 2008

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