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How to Use UBCD4Win to Rescue Files/Folders from an Unbootable Computer

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#1 DocSatan


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Posted 17 February 2010 - 01:00 PM

Using Ultimate Boot CD for Windows® to Rescue Files from a Computer that will not Boot Correctly

Guide Overview

The purpose of this guide is to provide the reader with a way to retrieve Important Documents, Files, and Folders from a computer that will not boot correctly, i.e., you cannot get to your desktop. We will be using the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows® (UBCD4Win), created by Benjamin Burrows, for accessing the hard drive of an unbootable computer. The UBCD4Win gives you full Read/Write access to your drives and is "a bootable recovery CD that contains software used for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing almost any computer problem." Although the UBCD4Win can be used to rectify many computer issues, including incorrect booting, this guide will only demonstrate how to use this tool to retrieve important files from the unbootable computer.

The UBCD4Win can be used to boot computers with the following Operating Systems:
  • Windows Vista (do not use a UBCD4Win that was created from a Windows Server 2003 CD)
  • Windows XP (Home/Pro)
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows NT SP6 (Warning about SP lower than SP6 HERE )
  • Ultimate Boot CD for Windows Version 3.50
  • Dual (2) CD/DVD Drives, or 1 CD/DVD Drive and a USB port.
  • CD/DVD Burning Program
  • Blank CD/DVDs and/or USB Drive

1. Create a UBCD4Win
If you do not already have a UBCD4Win built, you will have to build one. This process may be overwhelming for the novice computer user, but just take your time and follow the instructions HERE to build the ISO Image for your UBCD4Win. Once you have created the ISO Image, you will have to Burn it to CD/DVD. You can follow the instructions HERE for burning this image to a CD/DVD.

2. Booting Your Computer with UBCD4Win
Booting your computer with UBCD4Win is pretty straightforward. Just place the UBCD4Win disk in to one of your CD/DVD drives and restart your computer. If your computer will not boot from the CD drive you may have to manually Change the Boot Order of the computer. If you are still having problems with getting the computer to boot UBCD4Win you can read the Frequently Asked Questions section at the author's page. You can also post about your problem at the UBCD4Win Forums.
  • Once your computer does boot from the UBCD4Win disk you will be brought to the following screen:

    Posted Image

  • Launch "The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows" is highlighted by default, just press your Enter key to continue.
    • If you do nothing the UBCD4Win will automatically launch in 24 seconds
  • The process of booting to the UBCD4Win desktop should take about 5 minutes and requires no input from the user. When UBCD4Win has finished loading, you will be brought to the Desktop. This Desktop is not your Desktop, but one from UBCD4Win:

    Posted Image

  • The following window will also pop-up, click on No unless you are going to use a Home Network to transfer the files/folders. In that case, click on Yes.

    Posted Image

  • You are now ready to start rescuing your important files/folders.
3. Rescuing Files/Folders
You can rescue important files/folders from the unbootable computer with UBCD4Win in a number of ways. You can transfer the files/folders directly to a USB Drive (Thumb and/or HD); you can burn the files/folders to a blank CD/DVD; if you have 2 NTFS hard drives on the unbootable computer, you can copy the important files/folders from one hard drive to the other; or, if the computer is on a Home Network, you can copy files off of the unbootable computer to another one connected to that network. I will demonstrate the first two methods below.

Transfer of files/folders directly to a USB Drive (Thumb and/or HD)
This would be the easiest way to rescue your important files/folders, especially if you only have one CD/DVD drive on the unbootable computer. You can simply navigate to the files/folders that you want to rescue and then drag them in to the window of the USB drive. The USB drive MUST be connected to the computer PRIOR to booting the computer with UBCD4Win for it to be recognized.

  • On the Desktop, single-click on My Computer
    • Note: Double-Clicking icons on the desktop will open 2 instances.

    Posted Image

  • In the window that opens, on the left side, you will see the drives listed.

    Posted Image

  • Right-click on the drive that represents your USB drive and choose Explore. This will open the drive in a new window.
    • Minimize this window.
  • Back in the My Computer window, click on the C:\ drive in the list of drives on the left.
    • This is the C:\ drive of the unbootable computer. Here you will be able to navigate to the files/folders that you wish to rescue from the computer.
      Note: If the unbootable computer has multiple partitions then this drive letter may be different than C:\.
  • Now minimize this window as well. You should have 2 windows minimized in your taskbar, they should look something like this: Posted Image
  • Now left-click once on this and choose to Vertically Tile both windows:

    Posted Image

  • To move a file/folder to the USB drive, simply right-click on it and drag it into the USB drive window and choose Copy Here.

    Posted Image

  • Continue this process until you have transferred all of the files/folders that you want to rescue.
  • When you are finished, close both windows.
  • Click once on the Safely Remove Hardware (Posted Image) icon in the taskbar on the right and choose to remove the USB drive, usually D:\ drive.

    Posted Image

  • You can now safely remove the USB Drive.
  • Congratulations, you now have your important files/folders stored safely on your USB drive.
Burning Files/Folders to CD/DVD
UBCD4Win comes with a number of CD Burning programs that you can use: DeepBurner, DVD RAM, Express Burn, and SmallCD Writer. For purposes of this guide, we will be using Small CD Writer to write the files to CD.
  • First, you should make a New Folder in the My Documents folder of the UBCD4Win. This will be the folder that you transfer all of the files/folders that you want to rescue.
  • On the desktop, single-click on My Computer
  • Double-click on the My Documents folder.

    Posted Image

  • Right-click in the open space of the window that opens and choose New --> Folder.
  • You can name this folder what ever you like.
  • Minimize this window.
  • Back at the desk top, single-click on My Computer
  • Double-click on the C:\ drive
    • Note: If the unbootable computer has multiple partitions then this drive letter may be different than C:\.
  • Now minimize this window and then Vertically Tile both the New Folder window and the C:\ drive window.
    • Follow the steps for Vertically Tiling windows in the above Transfer of files/folders directly to a USB Drive (Thumb and/or HD)
  • Next, navigate through the C:\ drive to locate the files/folders that you want to rescue.
  • Right-click and drag these files/folders in to the New Folder that you just made and choose Copy Here. Continue this process until you have transferred all of the files/folders that you wanted to rescue.
  • Now, insert a blank CD/DVD in to the empty CD/DVD drive
  • Open Small CD-Writer

    Posted Image

  • In the window that opens, click on Project-->Add Folder

    Posted Image

  • Next, click on the "+" next to My Documents
  • Click on the folder that you created earlier, in this example: Important Items to be Moved

    Posted Image

  • Now click OK
  • Set the Recorder to the drive that has the Blank Disc inserted (usually D:\ drive)

    Posted Image

  • Click on Record, then on Continue Session
  • The folder will now be written to the blank disc. This may take a while depending on the size of the folder.
  • Once the Small CD Writer has finished, the disc will be ejected.
  • Congratulations, you now have your important files safely stored on your CD/DVD.

4. Shutting Down the Computer with UBCD4Win
  • Click on Start --> Turn Off Computer
  • In the pull down list, choose Shut Down/Eject then click on OK.
  • This will eject the UBCD4Win disc and shut down the computer.

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#2 Grinler


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Posted 22 February 2010 - 01:41 PM

Excellent Guide! Thanks for posting this.

#3 ram1009


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Posted 23 August 2013 - 09:05 PM

This is quite a comprehensive guide however it did not get my computer booted.  The instructions specifically mention using XP sp1 or sp2 but my disk has been slipstreamed to sp3.  I tried it anyway and everything seemed to go OK until I tried to boot the bad partition and I got a blue stop screen "to protect my computer".  Any suggestions?

#4 CKing123


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Posted 07 September 2015 - 10:40 AM

Please correct the links from http://www.ubcd4win.com/ to http://www.ubcd4win.org/

If I am helping you and I don't respond within 2 days, feel free to send me a PM

Sysnative Windows Update Senior Analyst 

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