Knoppix, a free Linux boot software, can be run directly from a CD. This ability to boot from CD means that Knoppix can be used for PC hard drive data recovery, even if Knoppix was never previously run on the machine. Knoppix can be used on an unbootable PC provided its hard drive has not sustained physical damage (if the hard drive is physically damaged, running any software may cause irreparable damage).
However, Knoppix is a tool which is best used by the computer-savvy. Even then, problems may arise during the recovery process. These tips address these problems and make the process go smoothly and fast, or (if it is too late for that!) the tips can also be used for troubleshooting purposes.
Tip 1: Get external devices right. Connect the external device on which the recovered data will be stored, for example a USB drive or external hard drive. Remove any unnecessary peripherals such as a printer, internet connection, remote control devices and so on. External devices can interfere with the ability of Knoppix to boot up correctly.
Tip 2: Follow a good tutorial. There are several available online; recommended are “Computer First Aid Using Knoppix” or “How to Recover Data with Linux”
Tip 3: Get Knoppix to boot correctly. This means starting the computer with Knoppix in the CD drive; then watch to see how to enter BIOS (usually F2 or F12), then look for the “Boot Sequence” option, and change the boot disk setting to the CD drive. For some unknown reason, even after this change is made, it may take more than one try for it to boot, so don’t despair after one failed attempt.
Tip 4: Beware of power management on notebooks. If your computer is a notebook, power management can mess up Knoppix by causing Knoppix to freeze when you wake up the computer. The best way to deal with this in this particular case is simply to stay one step ahead of power management, so if you are taking any breaks during the data recovery process, move the mouse periodically to avoid putting your notebook into sleep mode.
Tip 5: Make sure you have read-write permission for your data destination disk. Knoppix automatically resets read-write permissions to read-only for external drives. Therefore, you may not have write permission for the USB or external hard drive that is to be used to store recovered data. If that is the case, then right-click on the drive icon in Knoppix and there will be an option there for changing read-write mode.
In conclusion, booting Knoppix from the CD drive when the hard disk won’t boot is an elegant way of recovering data. However, it is important to realize that the process isn’t always straightforward. The tips here have prepared the user for problems that may arise, making the process smoother and faster.
Colin Robinson “How to Recover Data With Linux” Syracuse University ITS
David Berlind “Drive Failure? Yagotta Try Knoppix First” ZDNet
Carla Schroder “System Recovery With Knoppix” IBM deverloperWorks
Gina Trapani “Geek to Live: Rescue Files With a Boot CD” Lifehacker
Cedric Shock and Susan Sullivan “Computer First Aid Using Knoppix”
Labels: 5 Tips for Using Knoppix to Recover Data from an Unbootable PC