If you happen to have a corrupted Windows system and the Recovery Console doesn’t help you at all, there’s at least one last thing that you can do before you format your hard disk – copy all your essential files. These are assuming that you don’t keep a regular backups for your hard drive, which happens to most of us.
There are at least 3 ways that I know of that can help you copy your files from one destination to another in Windows operating systems when there are any kind of systems error or files corrupted problems:
1. Using Windows Installation disk, run the Recovery Console and then use the command prompt command “copy” (without quotes) to copy/move your files. This would basically look like
C:\WINDOWS>copy “source” “destination”
2. Unplug your hard drive and run it as a slave drive on another machine.
3. Get a Linux distro live cd such as Ubuntu.
Frankly, not all people are comfortable with command prompts (method 1) or are willing to open their case to plug and unplug hard drives (method 2), which makes method 3 quite an attractive alternative.
My favorite linux distro is Ubuntu and you can get a live cd from here. A live cd basically allows you to run the linux operating system when your computer starts up without you even installing it before hand. Once Ubuntu has started up completely, you can just browse into your drive (where your corrupted system resides) and start copying files out to your USB / backup drives. Yeah, it’s all in GUI, no command prompts.
Note that copying and pasting to NTFS drives or deleting files from NTFS files are not supported by default in Ubuntu 7.10 and below, which I wrote about here. This problem has since been solved in Ubuntu 8.04.