The best way to avoid data loss is to backup files to a safe location on a regular basis. Even though there are plenty of applications out there to help you recover files, there are very few good solutions out there to recover or backup data from an unbootable hard drive. Besides that, most of the popular free live CDs don’t come with an easy-to-use graphical interface, making it difficult for novice users.
Recovering data from a dead hard drive isn’t relatively easy but if the hard drive is in good condition, you can easily backup your data from the hard drive, for free. That is, if your PC fails to boot for some unknown reason and you want to backup or recover files before proceeding to fix the issue, there are a bunch of good, easy-to-use solutions available.
In this guide, we will share the best free live CDs out there to backup or recover data from a hard drive that won’t boot.
Redo Backup & Recovery
Redo Backup and Recovery is probably the most easy-to-use free software out there to backup or recover data from a PC that won’t boot. Its easy-to-use graphical user interface not only lets you backup files but also lets you recover deleted data from your hard drive. On top of that, it even includes a web browser just in case you want to access the web!
In order to use Redo Backup, you just need to download the live CD image (~250 MB), burn it to a CD/DVD and then boot from the same. We recommend you follow our how to use Redo Backup and Recovery guide for step-by-step instructions.
Windows installation media
While Windows installation media can’t be considered as a live CD/DVD, it take be used to backup your files. If you own a PC, chances are that you have the installation DVD as well. And if you have the DVD, you don’t need any third-party utilities to backup or recover your data. All you need to do is follow the very simple instructions mentioned in our how to backup files without booting into Windows guide.
In Windows 8/8.1, the procedure is slightly different than the procedure mentioned in the above guide.
Paragon Backup & Recovery
The free version of Paragon Backup & Recovery 2014 offers a couple of good ways to backup or recover data from a PC that won’t boot. The live backup CD that can be prepared by installing Backup & Recovery 2014 offers options to backup files to virtual disk, restore data from virtual disk, and incremental backup. An option is also available to backup files to a secured place called capsules. The tool includes an option to create live USB containing backup options.
While Paragon Backup & Recovery isn’t as versatile as Redo Backup and Recovery, it certainly offers an easy-to-use interface.