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I have booted using an Ubuntu Live CD as my Vista installation hangs after startup, I want to try and copy all files on the drive to an external drive.

The internal drive was partitioned so in vista I had C: and D:, Ubuntu can see all the files on drive D:

But on drive C: all I can see are a few folders such as Boot, $Recycle

C: should have Windows folders and a few documents, why can I not see these inside Ubuntu?

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You might simply be mounting the incorrect partition. Please fully explain how you're verifying the drive contents. –  Oliver Salzburg Apr 5 '12 at 15:33
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When I go to Places it lists 2 drives, I am just clicking on each one to view the contents. Also, it shows that one drive is 66GB and the other 150GB which is the correct amounts for the two partitions –  Ben Jackson Apr 5 '12 at 15:39
    
try using gparted (carefully) to correctly identify your partitions, you can right click to mount partitions –  adx Apr 6 '12 at 1:20
    
All three partitions: boot, C: and D: are recognised and I can see them with fdisk -l in Ubuntu. I can also mount C and D but C shows no files. –  Ben Jackson Apr 6 '12 at 13:48

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It seems that your C: drive filesystem is corrupted. Try to boot up with a windows rescue usb or cd, and do a chkdsk on that drive. You can use yumi to create such a rescue usb, for example. However, if rescue is your only concern, you may want to dd that entire partition into an image file somewhere else just in case.

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/

there are many other alternatives for checking/rescuing windows (I am assuming it is ntfs) partitions you can search for.

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I'm think I have run chkdsk /f on a drive before and it actually made the drive even more unreadable, is there a risk that /f can corrupt data? Do you have a link to a good guide to use dd, and by dd do you mean: forensicswiki.org/wiki/Ddrescue –  Ben Jackson Apr 5 '12 at 18:14
    
yes, ddrescue is probably better for you in this case. yes, any disk check operation can make things worse (that is why i said use dd to save an image). how about testdisk? have you tried to run that against the drive (or rather partition). your livecd may not have testdisk, but usually you can install it by apt-get install testdisk. –  johnshen64 Apr 5 '12 at 18:19
    
When you say create a rescue cd, don't I already have that with my Ubuntu Live CD? How would the rescue cd be different, what should I put on it and can I run chkdsk from linux? Could you give me a hand with testdisk, what commands should I run? –  Ben Jackson Apr 6 '12 at 13:53
    
ubuntu livecd is not for general rescue operations, you can follow the yumi link i mentioned above to find rescue livecds. testdisk manual is here: cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step but data recovery by its nature is not guaranteed and that is why there are companies charge a lot of money for that. what works in one case may not work in another. i am sharing testdisk that i used before based on your description of the problem but cannot really offer a diagnosis. –  johnshen64 Apr 6 '12 at 15:21

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