Part 1.
A family member who lives several miles from me had been seriously ill and hospitalized for several days. During that time his young daughter had used his laptop to download some items from the Internet. Now he was back home and his laptop computer would not run.

He explained to me that his files were not backed up and all his business records were on that laptop hard drive.

He has several small businesses and employs several people. Unfortunately, he had no backup of his hard drive which contained all his business records for several years including current customer accounts, invoice records, tax returns, employee payroll records and much more. He wanted me to try and save his files, which I doubted that I could do.

First I ran a diagnostics program for Windows and got this reply:

4,055 invalid directory entries
9 invalid directory entries corrected
3 lost directories restored
10,475 lost clusters saved as .chk files
Not all directories repaired.

Huh! I refused to try to rebuild his Windows without first saving his important files. Here's what I did: I connected his laptop hard drive to my motherboard secondary channel, using a laptop drive- to- desktop cable pin adapter, and booted my hard drive into Ubuntu 9.04. That allowed me to access all his files. I simply dragged his most important personal folders - containing all his business financial history for years past up to current - from Windows to my Ubuntu desktop for safe keeping, then I burned his financial folders to CD's - so those folders and files were saved and safe!!!

When I showed him his files on his office desktop computer, he was amazed. When he went to the outer office I heard him tell the staff "That is awesome. He saved our business." After I got home he called and said that he had just printed out several thousand $$ worth of invoices from those saved files on an office computer and still had many more to print.

Part 2.
After the most important current files were safe, I could then play with the laptop hard drive. I finally got 100% of his files copied to another hard drive (and I certainly have more respect for Ubuntu 9.04 than before). It is amazing how quickly and easily you can drag and drop folders and files of any type from one drive to another, using Ubuntu. Now, I wanted to save every personal item he had on that drive, then make the drive bootable if possible.

So I installed his Windows onto a desktop 60GB hard drive as C:/

then used Ubuntu Gparted from the Ubuntu 9.04 Live CD to shrink the C:/ partition to a little over the minimum to hold Windows,

then using Gparted I made an empty fat32 partition of 35GB for D:/,

then made the remainder of the drive ext3 for Ubuntu,

then I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on it.

So I had a bootable Windows on C:/, a 35GB empty partition to drag folders and files into on D:/, and a bootable Ubuntu on ext3.

I connected that newly prepared Windows desktop drive to my workbench computer as CS on the primary channel,

and the corrupted laptop drive as CS on the secondary channel and booted the primary into Ubuntu.

Ubuntu saw the corrupted laptop drive as "IBM" and all it's contents were visible.

I selected the empty D:/ drive partition that I had made and dragged ALL the "IBM" folders and files into the empty D:/ partition. It worked fine. I dragged everything, even his pictures and music.

Now that all his files were saved, he could access his information by booting into Windows or Ubuntu using a desktop computer - and I could do a low-level format on his laptop hard drive to clean it.

Then he reinstalled all his applications to the laptop hard drive and he was back in business as though nothing had happened.

All that work and study sounds simple now but it was a nerve wracking experience for me to reach those conclusions and accomplish my goal which was to save all his files on a bootable drive.

All that was done in several hours of work - and the software to save his files didn't cost even one cent. Ubuntu is free. But it was a strain on my nerves, ha ha.

Saving personal files from a corrupted hard drive.
Software required that I used: a free copy of Ubuntu 9.04.
July 2009.

By the way, such situations as this can be avoided by backing up important files BEFORE disaster strikes.

Good information about connecting the laptop hard drive- to- IDE hard drive connector is here:


Be careful when connecting a pin adapter to the laptop hard drive. It isn't as simple as connecting the desktop drive and a mistake can cost you a destroyed laptop drive. I speak from experience. I once made that mistake.