• Posted on March 11, 2013

Restoring Files from Broken OS using Debian

If you no longer can boot into your Operating System and need to recover your files an easy way to go about this is using a Linux Live CD. There are GUI and Text Live CD’s but in this tutorial we will be using a Text Live CD by Debian. Right below is the video demonstrating how to do this. Or if you want you can just read how to do right under the video.

Before starting up your computer put the CD you burned inside the drive, and also have a backup medium, such as a second hard drive, external hard drive or flash drive.

Once you boot into the “Live” option for Debian you will want to identify the partitions that each hard drive has to figure out which one is the broken operating system and what one is your flash drive.

But before running the command to list hard drives, we want to become root so we have full access to all the upcoming commands.

$ sudo su
$ fdisk -l

“fdisk” will list all the hard drives. In the video I got /dev/sda1, /dev/sda2 and /dev/sdb1. Windows always has at least 2 partitions. One for “recovery” and the other for the system files. /dev/sda2 has all the system files and user files. Identify the hard drives can be difficult but knowing the system file sizes will help.

Now create directories to mount these devices to.

$ mkdir /media/sda2
$ mkdir /dev/sdb1

Now mount these hard drives.

$ mount /dev/sda2 /media/sda2
$ mount /dev/sdb1 /media/sdb1

Mounting the first location is the hard drive devices, the second is where to mount it to.

Now you can just “cd” into the sda2 hard drive and “cp” the files over to “/media/sdb1”.

If you want to copy a directory and all subdirectories you will want to add a “-R” to the command.

$ cp -R /media/sda2/Users/GeekThis/Desktop /media/sdb1/Users/GeekThis/Desktop

The Debian CD I used can be found at Debian.org. I used BitTorrent to get the file (to help Debian save on bandwidth), and I got the amd64 version since I have a 64bit operating system. If you are unsure if you do, get the 86 version.