My daughter brought me her HP laptop that was running Windows Vista, but now won’t boot. Like many users, she had years worth of data and no backup. All she wants are the photos and a few assorted documents. After trying various hard drive utilities, with no luck, I decided to try and create a bootable Ubuntu (Linux) USB stick. I know from past experience that booting Linux on a USB stick should get us by Windows but still allow us to get files off the hard drive.
Following these directions (I am using a Mac, but there are options for Windows too), I was able to create a bootable version of Ubuntu 12.10. Rebooting the laptop with the USB stick plugged in, I was able to boot to the USB stick, and start up Ubuntu. And like some kind of magic, the Ubuntu Desktop appeared. Bringing up the File Manager tool, and finding the folder where the photos and documents are located, I was able to download all 20GB worth of files to another USB hard drive I had plugged into the laptop.
Now we can rebuild the system using Windows Vista (because the system was built specifically for Vista, mainly because there aren’t any Windows XP/7/8 drivers for the video/network/sound cards.
I might be able to make Windows 7 work, but it will be a stretch. I may just install Ubuntu 12.10 on the laptop and call it good. She’ll have a system that is easy to use and will give her fewer problems. I guess it also means I’ll have to do a little training.