Using Ubuntu to recover files on an unmountable windows harddrive

Recently I experienced what all web workers dread: the blue screen of death (aka, the BSOD). And on a Monday morning as I tried to boot up for my 6am status call, no less.  After I tried every last trick in the book to get my laptop to boot (last known good, safe mode, etc.) and used every single curse word I knew, it was time to move onto the many stages of data loss.  I didn’t have a sense of what was in my laptop and what was in the cloud, but I did know it had been at least 7 months since my last major backup. It was bad, at the very least everything I had been working on for the past few weeks was probably lost.  So, after confirming with the helpdesk what I already knew and arranging to have a new HDD shipped next day air from Lenovo (it arrived the next morning!) I moved on to getting the data out of my dead harddrive

And this is how I came to be converted to Linux.  Randomly, in my desperate  searches I came across this article Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer.  The directions are extremely clear and I was able to go to the Ubuntu site, download Ubuntu Live, use Disk Utility on my Mac to burn a disk, and then boot my Lenovo with the disk (one tip, Lenovos and Thinkpads often require you to hold down f12 to boot from a disk).

I was lucky, because I was able to access my Windows files this way and download them all onto my external HDD (and yes, it would have been great if I’d done that before my laptop crashed).

I also bought a harddrive enclosure and attempted to access my old HDD that way once my new HDD was installed, but it would not be recognized.  I imagine YMMV, so that is also an option if booting from Ubuntu does not work for an installed HDD.

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