Continued from Recovering Windows files with a Ubuntu CD I: the backstory
Booting up the live CD
Once you have your Ubuntu CD (or DVD), place it in your CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive and boot your computer (yes, even if Windows won’t boot—Ubuntu’s functionality doesn’t depend on Windows, so don’t worry). If the CD doesn’t boot, you may have enable the BIOS to boot from CD. There’s usually a key you can press during boot-up to bring up a boot menu and choose to boot from CD. The key itself varies from computer to computer. On some computers, the key is Delete. On others, it’s F2 or F9. On still others, it’s Escape.
Click on the Places menu and select your hard drive. It won’t be called C: or D:. It’ll likely be labeled by the size of the drive. In this screenshot, my Windows drive is 8.7 GB, so I’m going to click on that in order to make it accessible (since the live CD won’t affect the hard drive unless I explicitly ask it to).
You should be able to see the Windows drive as an icon on the desktop now. Double-click that icon to open it (just as you would double-click on My Computer in Windows). Then go to Documents and Settings (Windows XP) or Users (Windows 7).
Once you find the files you want to recover, you can copy and paste them to an external drive or even email them to yourself (for most wired broadband connections, Ubuntu will automatically set up a working internet connection).
Yes, you may be shocked that anyone can boot a live CD and access your files, but it’s true. Better you know now and get rid of that false sense of security you used to have. If you have confidential files, you may want to consider encrypting them or not storing them electronically.
The screenshots and instructions are from Ubuntu 8.04 (nicknamed Hardy Heron), but they should also work (with slight modifications) on other releases of Ubuntu or with other Linux versions (or “distributions”) as well.
Continue reading: Recovering Windows files with a Ubuntu CD III: deleted files