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Author Topic: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery  (Read 5272 times)

techidave

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Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« on: December 02, 2014, 11:31:06 AM »
I have been trying out some Linux rescue disks like BootMed, Avira Rescue Disk, UBCD for windows hard drive recovery.  I am considering installing Linux on a old computer just for this purpose.  Is there a certain distro that comes with lots of recovery tools built into the OS?

appreciate the help

Dave

40hz

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2014, 01:17:52 PM »
Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery

The two that get used most are the SystemRescueCD and the Trinity Rescue Kit.

They're both kinda "techy," so I'd advise downloading and getting familiar with them before you need them. Sitting in front of a dead PC is not the time to get acquainted with tech tools.

Additional resources:

Darik's Boot & Nuke (DBAN)
- secure disk wiper

GParted
- the most comprehensive partition tool and drive formatter

Clonezilla - the universal drive/partition copy/restore tool.

FWIW, I prefer to stay within the OS when it comes to system recovery. So I'd definitely try to use the most Windows specific recovery tools available before I'd try using Linux-based ones. I see that more as a last ditch sort of thing rather than the preferred way. The one place where I would definitely use a Linux solution is when attempting data recovery from a heavily infected Windows system. So far, malware doesn't straddle multiple operating systems that well. So there's a much smaller chance of propagating a Windows infection going in with Linux to get the user's data off the drive. Truth is, almost any live distro disk could be used for that.

For Windows systems I prefer using Hiren's BootCD.

YMMV :Thmbsup:

techidave

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 01:31:44 PM »
Actually I do try Windows first to see if I can copy files.  But it doesn't do any good when Windows doesn't see the drive.  But Linux can.  I usually use UBCD for a lot of stuff, but in my last case, it didn't do me any good.

So I thought instead of using a live cd, i would just install Linux.  But I guess with a live cd, i can always get the latest and greatest release.

I am somewhat familar with all the ones  you listed above.

thanks for the recommendation.

40hz

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2014, 01:44:45 PM »
I'd suggest booting of a live linux distro and copying your user data over to an external drive. Most of the mainstream Linux distros can read DOS/FAT/FAT2/NTFS formats out of the box. Mint and Ubuntu definitely can. Once your data is safe you could just install or reinstall whatever OS you like. Data is data.

Luck! :Thmbsup:

MilesAhead

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2014, 06:48:20 PM »
For Windows systems I prefer using [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiren%27s_BootCD]Hiren's BootCD.

Does it support UEFI secure boot GPT etc?  I'm reading at the home page now but I thought I'd ask you also since I suspect you know quite a bit about it.  :)

techidave

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2014, 06:59:35 PM »
i haven't used hirems all that much, so i cannot answer your question, Milesahead

it seems to be highly rated.

4wd

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 07:04:00 PM »
If the BIOS can see the HDD, I'd also try Testdisk from within Windows - it may or may not see the HDD, if it does you can recover almost every file off of it.

The Testdisk site also has a list of recovery LiveCDs.

40hz

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2014, 08:18:12 PM »
For Windows systems I prefer using [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiren%27s_BootCD]Hiren's BootCD.

Does it support UEFI secure boot GPT etc?  I'm reading at the home page now but I thought I'd ask you also since I suspect you know quite a bit about it.  :)

It does not have support for EFI out of the box AFAIK.

There are supposedly workarounds for it. And (fortunately) I have yet to need them. But I also haven't run into an issue with an EFI system - nor do I own one. So I have no way of testing or speaking with assurance on anything I've read when it comes to that.

Anybody out there have any real-world experience with any of this?

techidave

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2014, 08:35:54 PM »
4wd, I used BootMed which has TestDisk to recover the files today.  thanks for the link of live cds.  i will look at them.

techidave

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2014, 09:17:21 PM »
MilesAhead,look at this one for UEFI.  alt linux

MilesAhead

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2014, 05:39:04 AM »
MilesAhead,look at this one for UEFI.  alt linux

Thanks for the link.  :)

Stoic Joker

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2014, 08:23:04 AM »
For Windows systems I prefer using [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiren%27s_BootCD]Hiren's BootCD.

Does it support UEFI secure boot GPT etc?  I'm reading at the home page now but I thought I'd ask you also since I suspect you know quite a bit about it.  :)

It does not have support for EFI out of the box AFAIK.

There are supposedly workarounds for it. And (fortunately) I have yet to need them. But I also haven't run into an issue with an EFI system - nor do I own one. So I have no way of testing or speaking with assurance on anything I've read when it comes to that.

Anybody out there have any real-world experience with any of this?

Just had an EFI (Dell) machine on the bench yesterday, that needed an offline virus scan. We enabled the legacy boot option, tossed in the Kaspersky Rescue Disk, and it booted up just fine. After the scan ran, switched it back to EFI and the OS came back to life.

Issue ended up being that the AOL Tech Fortress - that was "helpfully" auto added by AOL... - had decided to lock the machine down and break everything. So the scan wasn't actually necessary, but it can be done.

40hz

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2014, 09:54:25 AM »
@SJ - that's good to hear. I had heard some rumors about certain machines not allowing a switch to legacy boot. But I guess they were only rumors after all?

GPT support is already in the Linux kernal. But you may need to recompile it if the distro you're using hasn't enabled it for you. Fortunately, most of the more recent distro releases have done so. Really good article from IBM on all that here.

Last I heard, the UEFI issue is still up in the air for some distros. But a few of the majors (Suse/Fedora/Ubuntu) have already cut a deal with the devil, so it's not an issue. For them.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2014, 11:10:07 AM »
@SJ - that's good to hear. I had heard some rumors about certain machines not allowing a switch to legacy boot. But I guess they were only rumors after all?

Drawing a conclusion from a random statistical sampling of 1 is most likely ill advised... :D ...Best we just call it a 50/50 on the light in the tunnel not being a train for now. ;)

MilesAhead

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2014, 01:36:43 PM »
Switching in and out of secure boot makes sense.  I'm just getting paranoid in advance since I think GPT is going to be widespread with off the shelf systems likely equipped with 4+ TB drives soon.

It's still premature to think about multibooting Linux on the Toshiba.  But I want to start getting a feel for how the non MBR world is going to be.  :)

ewemoa

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2015, 07:44:04 PM »
In the last week or so I used SystemRescueCD to pull data off of an HDD -- the contained GNU ddrescue was quite useful.  There are some related utilities ddrutilty (among other things has some nice NTFS-related tools) and ddrescueview which don't appear to be on the ISO, but I was able to fetch them (one had a precompiled binary and the other was easy to build from source) while booted into SystemRescueCD.

It took some studying to learn how to use GNU ddrescue (note: there's another program with a similar purpose and name), but the results so far appear to be that I was able to recover all except one file.



The following things seemed worth considering before getting started:

  • Consider practicing on something you don't care about too much -- and consider doing so before an emergency.
  • Arrange for some place for the logfile(s) to be saved to -- I used some USB memory.
  • Arrange for a device to save GNU ddrescue output (not necessarily logfile) to -- typically one is likely to want something that is larger in capacity than the sum of the partitions one wishes to attempt recovery for.
  • Don't overwrite past logfile on subsequent runs -- work off of a copy.
  • Consider an initial run that doesn't try hard to recover much -- if you decide later you want to wipe the good areas, the logfile for the initial run may present less trouble.
  • If dealing with NTFS, examine ddrutility -- there's a contained tool that may make the pass through an NTFS filesystem faster.
  • Don't attempt individual file recovery off of a fresh result of running GNU ddrescue -- clone first and work off of that.

These are not faults with the documentation, FWIW :)

I was happy to learn that sometimes even HDDs with trouble can be "mostly wiped" by leveraging an appropriate GNU ddrescue log file and an appropriate invocation of the utility using its fill mode to target "good" areas.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 08:43:19 PM by ewemoa »

MilesAhead

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Re: Best Linux Distro for Windows HDD recovery
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2015, 05:47:55 AM »
This may be a good place to search
DistroWatch