What's the easiest way to transfer files off of a corrupted Windows XP install?
February 22, 2011 12:16 AM   Subscribe

What's the easiest way to transfer files off of a corrupted Windows XP install?

My oldest desktop which has Windows XP Media Center Edition installed stopped working and I cannot boot into either the recovery console or safe mode. I would do a repair install if I had the disc and after searching microsoft.com I've had no success.

I just want to get all my pictures off of computer as fast as possible, reformat it using Darin's Boot & Nuke, then start to re-purpose it.

sidenote: the problem is that ntoskrnl.exe is missing and yes, I have already looked for a backup copy in the i386 folder
posted by meta.mark to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
You should be able to burn a Ubuntu LIVE CD from another computer and once it's running, use a high capacity flash drive to transfer the files.

This guide from Lifehacker has some instructions to give you an overview.
posted by mtphoto at 12:30 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

The torrent sites have rescue discs that include bootable Windows XP, if you want to try a repair.

But yes, seconding an Ubuntu Live CD as a quick and direct solution to getting your files.

Or, you can pull the hard drive, connect a USB to IDE/ATA/whatever adaptor on it, and hook it up to a working computer to copy everything off.
posted by zippy at 12:45 AM on February 22, 2011

Get an external hard drive enclosure, connect the drive to another computer via USB, get the pictures, put it back and reinstall.

The enclosures sell at amazon for only a few dollars.
posted by tvdveer at 12:46 AM on February 22, 2011

Yeah, external medium + boot CD is the standard answer - I usually keep around a recent copy of System Rescue CD for this kind of thing. There's a bunch of tools on it, you might even manage to solve your actual problem.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:55 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I picked up a drive dock the other day for $25. Teh Awesome. Basically, you plug it into a USB slot and every old SATA hard drive you have laying around is now a thumb drive. Plug that into another computer with lots of spare space, drop in your drive-with-issues and copy over all of your docs, pics, music, whatever.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:23 AM on February 22, 2011

You say "my oldest", which leads me to believe that you have more than one system. Open the system, unplug the old drive, install in a new PC, and when it reboots you'll see all your files.

The issue you're going to have with any method other than a live-disc is going to be one of permissions, but you SHOULD be able to see your general storage directories w/o any issue.

This method is about 10x faster in its transfer rates than is USB, but it's also got a few more steps...although you'll be done with it by the time that ubuntu live disc boots for the first time.

I do this all the time using USB, but I've already got the tools and the workspace set up to do it. You can salvage the existing XP install using the MSDaRT tool from Microsoft (easiest way, you could also run system recovery tools from the original install or recovery partition.) The MSDaRT tool automates the process of recovering lost or corrupted system files. I can't post a torrent link here, but I'm sure you're more than readily capable of that yourself.
posted by TomMelee at 4:25 AM on February 22, 2011

Response by poster: By installing a "new PC" did you mean replacing the master hard drive and making the previous one a slave?
posted by meta.mark at 8:51 AM on February 22, 2011

One way to move Windows-formatted files (especially NTFS) safely and very easily is with a Windows-based live CD and external USB storage. http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/
You will need access to a Windows XP install cd, though, whether your own or someone else's.
posted by Ky at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2011

defunct drive as slave in a working system. Remember, no masters or slaves in a sata system, but bios will look at drive0 for the boot.ini.
posted by TomMelee at 12:56 PM on February 22, 2011

Easiest is definitely the external enclosure route. Buy an external enclosure for your drive (you'll need to know what kind of drive it is before you buy the enclosure). Open up the desktop's case, pull out the bad drive, slap it into the enclosure (a matter of a minute, at most), and plug the USB of the enclosure into a working computer. It will mount like any external drive, allowing you to remove files from it at your leisure. Much easier than messing around with slaves and masters and jumpers and whatever.
posted by clone boulevard at 3:46 PM on February 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks guys for all the answers guys! I think I'll do the IDE/SATA adapter transfer instead of Ubuntu because the transfer speed would be much faster.

Then I'll try the other live repair CD's you guys suggested.
posted by meta.mark at 11:16 PM on February 22, 2011

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