Using Knoppix to recover Windows

If you’re having major issues with you Windows operating system, and either can’t or don’t have time to go through a long backup process you can use a Knoppix Live CD to access you system and create a byte by byte backup of everything on the system. The following steps will guide you through the process.

Items you will need
In order for this exercise to be successful you will need the following items:

  • External USB hard drive to store the recovered data. This should be an actual drive and NOT a flash key.
  • A copy of Knoppix Live CD (see below for information on getting it)
  • A little bit of patience, because it will take about 1.5-2 hours for the data to be copied
Download and burn the Knoppix ISO
Go to and download the ISO file. Once you’ve downloaded the file burn the image to a cd-rom.
Using your Knoppix CD
Knoppix is what is known as a live cd. It is a functional Linux operating system that is contained on and runs from a cd-rom. When you remove the CD the operating system goes away. This makes it a great alternative when you can’t access your windows system because you can still get to the data.Before you do anything you need to make sure that your computer is setup to boot from the CD-Rom drive. You do this by accessing the bios (usually by hitting F2, F10, or Delete during the start up of the system) and checking that the CD-Rom drive is the first one in the boot order.

Next plug in the external USB hard drive. This needs to be done before Knoppix boots up as it won’t detect a USB device “on the fly”. Once you do that go ahead and insert the Knoppix CD, wait until it gets to the Knoppix screen and hit enter.

After Knoppix starts
This is where the fun begins. Once your Knoppix Live CD has loaded on the system follow these simple instructions:

  1. Open a terminal window by clicking the icon in the task bar that looks like a computer screen.
  2. In the terminal window type “su” (no quotes) and hit enter.
  3. Look at the desktop screen and you should see some icons that say something like : “hda1″, “hda2″, etc, etc. Click those drives and figure out which one is the Windows file system. That’s the drive you want to copy to the USB.
  4. Go back to the command terminal and type “mount -a”. This will assure that the USB drive is mounted
  5. Type “cd /media” and hit enter. After you hit enter type “ls” and type enter. At this point you should see a list of hard drives including the ones you saw on the desktop. Look for you USB drive. You can do this by typing “ls drivelabel” and pressing enter. That will list all of the contents of each drive and the USB will be empty (usually).
  6. At the prompt type the following to begin the transfer process: dd if=/path/to/bad/hdd of=/path/to/usb and press enter. IF = Input File (where you are getting the data from). OF = Output File (where the data is being put). This should begin the process which can take a while to complete.

If at any point you find yourself having trouble feel free to Contact us at BD PC Services and we will gladly assist you with the process. If you are in the Great Boston area we can also send a technician on site to help you out.