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Windows 7: Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?

02 Jun 2009   #1
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64
Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?

"Gosh! How can I get that file I need when Windows won't load?" How many have heard or uttered that one before? hhmmm..?

You don't time or another system available even to slave your main Windows drive on that! Your project is still on the drive on a system with no floppy drive?

Who uses those now when cd and dvd-rws are so common but... you need Windows running in order to "get the file copied to removable"! Your boss might get a little hot under the collar when that report isn't in on time!

With the idea of using a data recovery program out since you don't have Windows running to burn any bootable disk that's ruled out for the time being. And if you have a laptop booting from a live Linux cd is out as well! unless the laptop just happens to have an external usb hard drive plugged in until you get Windows running again?

Since the live distro is already burned to a cd-r or dvd-r for a few larger ones you are not able to copy any files onto one of those either when booted live. What you need is something that can do both boot live and recover your files without a big hassle when you either lack time or simply don't have an alternative to use.

How many are familiar with usb keys by the way? I'm sure quite a few are at this point! Now are you going to be ready for something just a little bit different? How about a different form of usb key or rather a live key with something else besides an iso send to it? The following images here will need some close attention as they show how to go about not only installing our selected distro which turns out to be the latest ubuntu 64bit 9.04 but none the less installed to not simply an iso placed on our test usb flash drive!

First we need an index and brief instruct for each image going by number to avoid getting lost. Remember the installation will be seen from a live cd booted from to see installation proceed to the flash drive itself.

1)You first need to repartition as well as format the test 4gb(3.75gb usable) SanDisk flash drive commonly available over the shelf for two things. The first is the system partition(root) with one for "data" you retrieve accesible by Windows!

2)Due to Windows always looking for the first partition we make that the data partition while a second will be for the distro avoiding the Windows prompt for format if that is the first on the drive. We can't have that.

3)The installer will then ask if you want the partitions/drives unmounted including the usb drive.

4)Here's the first place to pay close attention to since the ubuntu installer will automatically look for an internal hard drive and simply ignore the usb device. You manually have to specify which partition/drive will be the root/system partition. Note ubuntu unpacked is 1.7gb reserving additional drive space for a swap file.

Since this won't be simply another dual boot of OSs and no programs installed it's a waste to worry about a swap partition with a small distro to begin with as well as leaving more free space available for whatever files you are trying to save or simply transfer. The actual minimum for this type of installation is just as seen with ubuntu going onto a 2.25gb root partition.

5)Now that you have the root selected you also need to select the file system the ubuntu installer will format yes format or reformat as part of the installation even if you already did that part with GParted earlier since the latest 9.04 includes a better release of GParted at this time.

6) + 7)What many will never realize is that you will need to designate a "/" mount point for the Grub boot loader we will see later look for! Without the mount point set the distro simply will not load up making the efforts so far a waste of time!

8)This one can simply be ignored since ubuntu will not need a swap partition only chewing up the little amount of space available for the NTFS data partition. For simply running the distro for that alone the 1.49gb could then be adjusted to see a 1gb swap leaving a little more left over for the root itself since it is cramped! no room for "anything else"!

9) + 10)Are even more demanding on attention since you now have to decide where the Grub boot loader will be installed. If you install it on any internal drive the effort becomes useless again since the drive loses portability for use on another system. The live "ubuntu rescue stick" has to be self contained in order to work requiring the Grub loader on it to begin with. Plus you wouldn't want to trash the 7 mbr anyways!

11)This one brings us to the "last chance to bail out!" decision you have to make since the setup files begin to be copied from then on!

12)-13)-14 are simply sitting back for 20 minutes as the Grub loader is one of the first items installed as the installation itself proceeds on. You'll have to excuse the mess of screenshots still remaining behind there!

15)Isn't live full of surprizes! "how did he?" Now that the installation finished and you rebooted selecting the flash drive this time around you find your internet connection is working for FireFox! Some prefer to set their home page as soon as they get online! Too bad it's only temporary however since that's what this is all about.

16)Brings us back to reality on the next boot off of the flash drive and opening FireFox to see what? uuuuu yech! You'll be be so glad to get back into Windows later once things are running again!

17) + 18)These two show the first thing you actually need to do once the desktop is reached in order to be able access any other drive! When going to the main menu and clicking on "Places" you drop down to the Computer icon seen there for a similar browser like Computer or MyComputer, Windows Explorer on Windows.

The one thing different at first however is that once a drive is mounted by first right clicking on the icon seen in the window a new icon will appear on the desktop itself. You double click on the icon to see the file browser open that then resembles the W.Explorer bringing us to what was that seen in Screen 19)?!

20)One treasure worth a new thread some time! once the important stuff was recovered from...? But of course the last here might just make a new sig somewhere else.

So... now you make yourself a fast rescue tool you can carry along with you. The larger the usb device however the more actual space will be available. For large files or a large number of files... the 4gb commonly found in a dept. store will be too small for an effective rescue tool.

The minimum is actually closer to 8gb for a starter, 16gb being available for under $50- in many retail stores being a recommended size, or going for the larger capacity 32gb or 64gb found as well. You won't be able to back up any good sized hard drive to start with. But you can retrieve quite a bit with a good sized one to avoid any total loss!

Attached Thumbnails
Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-1-wipe4new.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-2-partition-scheme-gparted-used.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-4-specify-device-requirement.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-5-specify-file-system.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-6-specify-mount-point.jpg  

Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-7-mount-point-set.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-8-ignore-swap-warning.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-9-which4grub.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-10-grub-device-decided.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-11-last-chance2bail.jpg  

Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-13-ubuntu-live-desktop.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-14-installation-complete.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-15-ubuntuonsandisk-desktop.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-16-anythingisbetter.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-17-mount-drives.jpg  

Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-18-drives-mounted.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-19-hidden-7-themes.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-20-files-copied.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-21-new-linux-sig.jpg  
Attached Images
Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-3-unmount-partitions-usb-drive.jpg Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-12-grub-installing.jpg 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2009   #2

Windows 7 Professional x64

Very good read Hawk. I have been messing with Ubuntu also. It's really quite nice. It's come a long way in the last 5 years. It could be a useful tool.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2009   #3
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

The 8.10 suffered a bit with a limited version of GParted there. The 9.04 has the latest stable release included in it.

The root partition is actually about the smallest possible and still see that work while a slight increase in size would allow screenshots to saved to the desktop. The next few screens here show a few other things besides a lack of space(#22).

The next test will be seeing if you can copy files from the data partition onto an rewriteable dvd. That will allow seeing a larger system partition while using the rw for capacity since even laptops generally come with a cd/dvd burner. Forget the appearance and themes(#23) as far as looks. Give me back my 7 desktop please!

The idea behind the guide here was to offer a compact alternative to carrying a bulky live cd or dvd around when you have a better alternative that will do even more. Regualr Linux users for several years already have known about how to use a live cd for recovery even seeing one old 2004 article on using the older releases of Knoppix to accomplish that. Computer First Aid Using Knoppix

For the first time Linux user simply selecting the hard drive and not the usb device as pointed out will see Grub installed on the wrong drive if the flash or pen used is correctly chosen from the list of hard drives not optical drives detected. Even with all drives plugged in however ubuntu will still be seen as the default OS/boot option when starting up while this was one item that needed to be pointed out.

One other thing to note is that different brands tend to see a different total for the actual amount of usable space. For a PNY 16gb model being made into a usb key instead for the larger Knoppix dvd sized iso and later shrinking that down in size to 3gb the total was 14.95 while the same sized Kingston was 15.04gb.

On a small 4gb device that may pose a problem since 2.75gb approximate would still allow a smaller 1gb sized data or swap partition on the SanDisk used for this. The larger the capacity the better of course especially when you have a lot of files and something goes wrong. At least you can recover some of the non replaceables even if you still lose out on the stuff you can download again!

Attached Thumbnails
Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-22-no-room4anything.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-23-crappy-themes4sure.jpg   Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-24-no-way.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Jun 2009   #4

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers

Hi there
There's a whole slew of these you can use for putting on a USB device

UBCD for windows is a good one, so are any of the BARTPE type of disks
Bartpe or UBCD4WIN are excellent for "Linuxphobes" as these are Windows based and any normal Windows user will be able to use these just fine,

Here's a link UBCD for Windows

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2009   #5
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

I'm familiar with the Ultimate boot cd there. But that acts in the same fashion as a Linux live cd where you copy from drive to another drive if available as well as having a few tools on that. But if you don't two hard drives for backing up one where do you copy or backup to?

The ubuntu cd or Knoppix live dvd being quite a bit larger both Debian releases can easily access any Windows drive. The recovery stick simply offers one thing not seen with any other live disk by providing a separate data recovery partition.

This method actually works in various ways by seeing a live OS, data partition for transfers as well as retrieval. Plus you can put in a belt holder or shirt pocket and bring it with you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2009   #6

Ubuntu 9.04

You might find that System Rescue CD or Knoppix work much better and faster than Ubuntu for that particular problem.

If you didn't want to use a Linux core, you might also find UBCD should do the job :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2009   #7

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers

Hi there
If you run the UBCD from a USB stick you shouldn't have any trouble copying data between drives -- even if you plug in another USB stick and have to copy from another USB stick to your Windows "C" drive.

Most laptops have at least 3 USB slots -- and you can always use a USB hub if you need more. Desktops won't have a problem and don't forget even LiveCD's can WRITE to both internal and external drives.

Decent modern mobos can also boot from a USB device so even if you have a single DVD device copying data from it shouldn't be a problem.

If you aren't a regular Linux user I wouldn't recommend going down the Ubuntu type route for this type of recovery.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2009   #8
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

The idea is not copying between other drives but making one usb pen or flash as a data rescue tool. If you just wanted to copy between two separate drives both ubuntu and Knoppix live disks can do that easy enough.

What if? the optical drive is already toast right when something else like a boot file gets knocked out? A live boot cd/dvd won't work there! The idea here is to have a usb device available for the task.

You can plug the usb device into another working system with the same version on and copy the boot file missing, bring the usb device back, and then replace the missing one with one drive you can easily carry along with you anywhere.

Let's see how about that laptop at work or school while the desktop sits at home. You don't feel like logging the laptop back and forth due to one file needed? Or you finished something on the desktop but need it available on the laptop. Would you consider using a live cd for that? Highly doubtful!

A usb device already intended for that purpose anyways is one option readily available. Why not allow it to have a second function as well?

When simply going back and forth to a machine not connected online being worked or updated a live cd certainly won't see updates downloaded to another system transferred without using up a cd-r//rw or dvd-r/rw if the second machine is at a separate location like helping someone you know out.

As far as Knoppix live dvds now too large being over 4gb in size like 4.12gb for the 5.3.1 release those come fully loaded up with various programs self contained. When a usb key was made up and of course that saw the entire 14.95gb taken up the reduction of size to allow for the second ntfs data recovery partition resulted in that no longer being bootable.

A separate command prompt method would be needed for that Debian distro to be installed since the live disks lack the gui method as seen with ubuntu. Konqueror and Ice are the browsers included providing an alternative for the price of the space taken up.

Live dvd or setting a dual boot would be the practical side for Knoppix at this time since the distro has simply grown too large in size for this type of application. It was certainly a better featured distro with everything included while simply not practical for this type of rescue tool unless you have a good 16gb minimum, 32gb, or 64gb sized usb device to start with since your basic install takes up over 4gb!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2009   #9

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers

Hi 'Hawk'

My argument still stands about the use of Linux in general for most users.

most laptops have SEVERAL USB slots so one, two or even 3 seperate USB devices can be used concurrently (or more with a hub).

Even most desktops have at least 2 USB slots easily available so just plug your DATA usb into a separate slot if you need to.

8GB USB sticks are quite common and cheap and tiny pocket sized 320 - 500 GB portable "passport" type usb disk drives are also very common. These can also support entire bootable OS'es with different partitions etc etc.

I've actually found after a lot of messing around my preferred method is actually a small self built debian system which has a version of vmware server on it and an entire Windows XP virtual machine. (Fits easily on to an 8GB usb stick).

Building a small efficient debian system is definitely not for the faint hearted but it's a worthwhile exercise as you can get rid of 99% of the bloat in most distros and it's LIGHTNING fast - especially from a USB stick.

Using a FREE product in it like vmware server you don't even need to fire up a Linux X-server (GUI) before you start your Virtual machine.

The windows XP system starts automatically from the debian boot via a start up script and I'm in business. I can repair the system using bog standard Windows tools and utilities from the VM.

I can also install on the XP machine utilities and programs I'm familiar with and know how to use.

Of course if all else really fails then I cnm use the debian command line tools i've installed but I'd rather not have to do that if I can avoid it.

The VM has access to all the host facilities including disks etc and the RDP on it makes communicating with remote machines and the internet easy. The RDP allows data transfer from the remote machine to the client - doesn't matter that it's a VM and provided the shares are set up your VM can also share data with the host - so with this USB stick and the windows VM machine on it you can transfer data say from home to school without using a laptop.

So long as the Linux network interface starts (ifup, iwconfig etc depending on the nic's) you can use the windows xp vm to start your favorite browser etc.

The object is to keep the debian system as small as possible - I'd like to be able to make a Windows 7 VM for recovery -- this is actually one case where the "Starter" edition might actually be of some use since I want everything to fit on to a single 8GB usb stick.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2009   #10
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

You could have 8 usb ports with 4 hubs but still only one flash or pen drive. How are you going to make that "one drive and one drive only" work for you?

It's not whether or not you have 20 usb devices but the idea of making one into a working multipurpose tool that can bail you out of a tight spot if not simply offer an alternative method of getting something done without any great deal of effort involved. For the novice any mistakes won't need an rw disk present since a usb device can be reformatted or repartitioned as well as a need to reinstall ubuntu to correct any problems.

Now as far as seeing a small 7 recovery disk 7 now has it's own option for burning a recovery disk. That is small where any cd-r would suffice. Later you may find a way to make a usb key as well saving on blank media!

Meanwhile I resized the two partitions to allow updates as well as better performance since the previous images show the actual smallest sized root partition that even allow ubuntu to load and run. The expanded root just over 2.5gb still let just a couple hundred mb over 1gb for the recovery partition there. Plus I ended up with a new desktop as well being booted from the drive while this is being presented here. :)

Attached Thumbnails
Using the "Other OS" For a USB Rescue Device?-ubuntu-resized.png  
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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