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Copy Files from Unbootable VirtualBox system drive in Ubuntu 10.04 ISO Video

My video on recovering files from a VirtualBox virtual machine with the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS ISO will teach you how to start your virtual machine from the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS live CD ISO, so you can recover your files from an Encrypted Windows or Linux system partition virtual machine which can’t start at all, a virus is blocking you from logging in, you can’t reach the login screen, or you forgot your username or password, but need to recover your important files from your broken  unencrypted virtual machine.

The same ideas can be used to recover your files from a real computer. You just need to set your computer to start up from the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS install live CD by configuring your BIOS/CMOS to start from CD first and click the “Try Ubuntu 10.04” LTS button when Ubuntu is done loading. You also need to plug a real USB flash drive or hard on to your computer USB drive to copy the files. If you do not have a USB flash drive, you can install a new or old hard drive inside your computer or laptop for copying the files, but you might have to partition it with Gparted in System > Administration menu. Using a Network computer or online backup like a FTP server is also possible in Ubuntu.

1. You need to first set Virtual box to start up using the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS live CD by editing by boot loader to start from CD first in the settings option for your virtual machine.

2. Make sure to attach your Ubuntu live CD ISO to your VirtualBox CD storage media section in settings for your virtual machine.

3. You can also make an extra virtual drive and attach it to your broken Virtual machine to recover the files to another virtual drive to attach to another working virtual machine.

4. Using USB drives is another option in VirtualBox, but you need to  first plug  in your USB drive and add your USB device to the USB section of your virtual machine settings by pressing the “Add USB” button in the USB settings for your VirtualBox Virtual machine Settings.

5. You can also add an extra CD-drive to virtual box and attach it to your virtual machine and use your actually CD Burner to burn your files to a CD-R or DVD-R burnable disc  if you own a CD DVD burner/writer. Ubuntu have a built-in CD DVD Burning program called Brasso.

5a. Online backup like FTP server, or MegaUpload, e-mail attachment or backing up to a Network  computer Shared folder is also another option since Virtual Box and Ubuntu can both access your network and the internet after they both start.

6. When you are done setting up your virtual machine to start from the Ubuntu 10.04 live cd install iso, start your Virtual Machine, and now the Ubuntu install ISO should be starting. When it is done loading, click “Try Ubuntu 10.04 LTS” and wait.

7. When the Ubuntu desktop started, use the Ubuntu file manager in Places  menu> Computer  found in the top Taskbar file menu to copy files to and from drives and network shares attached to your virtual machine.

8. You can also use the built-in CD Burner program which comes prebundled with Ubuntu called Brasso.

9. If you are using an actual hard drive, you first need to make the partition tables, and partition it in Gparted found in System > Administration if the drive is unformatted. On an unformatted drive, you need to make the partition tables first in Gparted in the devices menu before you can partition and format a drive.

Note: Use the drives drop down menu to select your drive you want to partition.

10. Once all your important files are copied to a safe location, see if they are not broken by opening them if you can.

For example, if you have picture files, use Ubuntu image viewer to see if the picture is viewable on your backup drive. If you are burning a CD-R or DVD-R use the verify option.

This tutorial won’t work at recovering files from a drive which has been securely wiped, or a virus deleted all your files. It only works for simple recovery like when you can’t login to Windows because you forgot the password, or a virus is making your computer crash before you can log-in to Windows. If your drive is mechanically broken or the circuit board stop working, I recommend you go hire a data recovery expert which can be very costly.

This is one of the reasons why you should make multiple back up copies of your files in multiple drives like CD, USB flash drive, online storage drives, e-mail, etc.

2 comments… add one
  • Johnson Yip July 19, 2010, 2:01 am

    Puppy Linux and Knoppix also great liveCD operating systems.

  • PC Tutorial Gadget Blog July 19, 2010, 2:04 am

    I find using a USB 3.0 flash drive or Hard drive the best thing to use to recover files with Ubuntu Live CD since USB 3.0 is so simple to use and fast, but expensive compared to USB 2.0 or 1.1.

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