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Windows 7: Emergency Kit - save your files from a dead OS

Emergency Kit - save your files from a dead OS

How to Create and Use a Linux Mint Mate USB Flash Drive to Recover your Files
Published by whs
22 Apr 2013
Published by
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How to Create and Use a Linux Mint Mate USB Flash Drive to Recover your Files


Note   Note
If you are in a hurry and don't want to read the whole saga, skip to point #2 and watch the videos. That will give you enough information to do the job.
The method proposed here is really extremely easy. Even someone with little computer experience should be able to deal with it.





information   Information
I am now getting suggestions for additional use of Mint Mate on the USB flash drive. I will list those in random order as they come in. Feel free to make suggestions on the thread and I will include them.
  • It is a very safe environment to operate on the internet. Malware infections are quasi impossible and should they really happen you can recreate the flash drive very easily.
  • Very often it is difficult or impossible to delete files under Windows. With Mint Mate on the flash drive you have an easy tool to accomplish those deletions.

1. Introduction


A total OS crash is not uncommon and then the last resort is very often to reinstall the operating system. The users who made provisions for that case by separating their user data into a data partition, or making frequent images, can easily recover. However, there are many that did not take any precautions and are desperately trying to recover their user data which is sitting on the OS partition that is no more accessible.

The traditional advice is to salvage the data with a live Linux CD from Knoppix, Puppy, DSL or alike. That works fine if you are familiar with any of those programs or take the time to understand them. But they all have one thing in common - they are very Linux and somewhat alien for a Windows user.

One Linux distro which feels comfortable for a Windows user is Mint Mate. There is quasi no learning requirement because things work in a very similar way as they work in Windows. You can judge for yourself by watching the second video.

The emergency kit I propose consists of a persistent Mint Mate OS on a USB flash drive. That means that any setup or modification you make to Mint Mate on the flash drive will be preserved and you don't have to redo it the next time you boot from the flash drive. The setup of such a drive is extremely simple as you will see in the first video.



2. Preparation and Requirements

We will use Mint Mate 14 which is the latest version and can be download from here. The download will take some time because it is 966MB large. And if you want the latest Mint Mate 17, it can be downloaded from here. The characteristics are the same as for Mint Mate 14.

Note: I haven noticed that not all download sites give you the same edition. In fact the downloads from some sites don't work as described. I suggest you use the James Madison Univerity site because that one I know works correctly.

We will also download and save the Universal USB Installer from here. With this program we can create the Mint Mate flash drive very, very easily.

As last component we need an empty flash drive formatted in Fat32 of at least 2GB but bigger is better. I use a 16GB USB2 flash drive which works very well. A USB3 flash drive would be even better. My USB2 flash drive has a data transfer rate of 30MB/sec and an access time of 0.8ms as measured with HD Tune.



3. Installation of Mint Mate on the Flash Drive

I will explain the extremely easy installation process of Mint Mate with the Universal USB Installer in a short video. Depending on the speed of your USB flash drive, that should take between 10 and 20 minutes.






4. Recover files with the Mint Mate flash drive

Here again a short video is the easiest way to explain the recovery procedure. This video was taken with a program installed and running on the flash drive.

The Mint Mate on the flash drive is a fully operational operating system. Due to the persistent nature of the installation it can be setup, tuned, and tweaked like an operating system on a system disk and the settings will remain. I often use this Mint Mate flash drive to run a PC. It is a very safe and fast method to navigate on the internet. Another safe method is to run Mint Mate in a virtual partition.

In the next chapter you find tutorials that explain how to setup Mint Mate and how to install it in a virtual partition.





5. Setup of Mint Mate




These tutorials explain how to setup Mint Mate. The first 7 videos cover the following subjects
  • Basic setup after installation
  • Refining the Theme and Skin
  • Start Menu and Taskbar settings
  • Terminal window setup
  • Installing and uninstalling Programs
  • Screen Recording
  • Screenshots and snips
In addition, there is a link to a PDF with the topic : Installation of Mint Mate in VMware Player. This section contains a written tutorial and three videos.

If you are interested in the subject, download the control sheet (a PDF) from my Skydrive







23 Apr 2013   #1
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
 
 

Well done, Wolfgang.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2013   #2
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Thanks Kari. Running Mint Mate from the flash drive is really fun. I was surprised how fast it operates even from my normal USB2 stick. I could not use my one and only fast USB3 stick because that is occupied with Fedora. But the USB2 did a fine job (as you can see in the second video which was produced from the stick).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2013   #3
raphoenix

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Well Done whs and Needed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


23 Apr 2013   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by raphoenix View Post
Well Done whs and Needed.
Thanks Rick. I am glad you show up.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2013   #5
maxie

windows 7 home 64bit
 
 

Nice one Wolfgang .... I was previously using Zorin awhile back you pointed out that Mint Mate was better so have switched to that ..... Still use Zorin on another system but i tend to agree with you ..... A big thanks for all your input on this subject.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2013   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Thanks Maxie. I have the same setup. I still use Zorin, mainly because it has the Wine as standard feature. In 64bit Mint Mate I have not yet been able to install Wine. They say that it is impossible. But it is not probalem in the 32bit Mint Mate (so they say). I will try that now.

I sometimes run my laptop now with the USB stick version. That is amazingly fast and a lot of fun. Even boot times are reaonable - about 40 seconds. Considering that this is only a USB2 stick, I find that acceptable.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2013   #7
Ztruker

Windows 8 Core X64
 
 

I'm about ready to try this, looks great.

Just had a thought though. This would also be a good method to use to delete files or folders that are difficult to delete under Windows. Normally tell folks to use Puppy Linux but this looks better.

Might be good to add something about that to the tutorial.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2013   #8
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ztruker View Post
I'm about ready to try this, looks great.

Just had a thought though. This would also be a good method to use to delete files or folders that are difficult to delete under Windows. Normally tell folks to use Puppy Linux but this looks better.

Might be good to add something about that to the tutorial.
Good idea. Let me have a look where I can fumble that in. In fact I run my whole system sometimes from the stick. It's a lot of fun.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2013   #9
Ztruker

Windows 8 Core X64
 
 

This is super. It's so Windows like any Windows user can navigate with it. Took me 30 minutes, start to finish to create the bootable flash drive, including download of Mint Mate 14.. I did need the latest Universal USB Installer 1.9.32 version as the older one I was using only supported up to Mint 13.

Booted in a minute or so with my USB 2.0 flash drive on my old Dell Precision 370 and I was able to navigate to any and all folders on my Win 8 Pro system, so deleting hard to remove files will be a piece of cake.

Thanks again for a great piece of work!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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