I have a laptop with Windows XP installed that won't boot. It gives me a BSoD right before the log on screen. I can't access Safe Mode either. (same error).

Thing is, I need some files that are present in the HD, so I really can't format the hD's laptop yet.

Options I have considered:

  • Reinstall Windows XP on top of the current installation.
  • This would mean, if it doesn't delete my files, that I will recover the files than do a clean install afterwards.
  • Use a Linux Live CD and boot with it, and If possible mount the Windows partition and access files from there. Is it possible?

Any other ideas?

Thank you.

4 Answers 4


Take the hard drive out and use a USB hard drive enclosure. If you don't have another computer to access the hard drive from a USB enclosure with, then I would use a Live CD.

  • +1 This would assure no OS tries to install or accidentaly installs files. Quick and easy
    – Dave M
    Dec 4, 2009 at 16:53
  • I'm going use the LiveCD. Since using the laptop is not urgent, only the files that I need. Thank you.
    – elvispt
    Dec 4, 2009 at 20:37

Using a Linux LiveCD is the easiest and fastest way to do this. Failing that, you can remove the drive, and put it into a caddy, or another machine as a slave drive, and pull the files off from there.

  • Absolutely to the LiveCD, granted the download and burn will take a while, but after that you will be on the drive in minutes. Most distros will see the drive, auto mount a usb, then just drag what you need. Be careful though if you spend too much time in something like Ubuntu or Mint you may not reinstall XP.
    – Dennis
    Dec 4, 2009 at 17:38

The windows CD does come with an option to fix a current installed widnows when you run it as I recall, I'd give that a shot first, it's quick and easy and should not harm if you don't select the format option :)


You can do your first option easily. It simply over writes the current XP without formatting--just make sure you don't A) delete the partition and B) format. Or use the Repair option in the same Windows setup interface.

Or get something like this from Vantec and plug your hard drive to it and simply copy and paste your data to a safe location.

Finally you could check the BSOD if it lists a driver causing the problem and perhaps troubleshoot it and avoid all of these options above altogether :)

Additionally you could use the XP CD to get into Recovery console and run a CHKDSK, perhaps it could fix any errors that may possibly exist on the drive.

  • I would strongly recommend first using a LiveCD in order to backup the drive and make sure your data is safe before trying to reinstall the original OS. Dec 5, 2009 at 5:51
  • While a LiveCD is a good option, the ones I mentioned aren't dangerous to data, it's the way we've done it before LiveCDs were common.
    – AdminAlive
    Dec 7, 2009 at 17:28

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