By Lily / Last update April 6, 2022

Then need to backup files from hard drive without OS

There are so many accidents that can destroy your OS and make your computer won’t boot. When you meet such a system crash problem, you can format the hard drive and reinstall OS to bring your computer back to normal.

However, how about the data stored on the drive? You definitely do not want to leave them behind. Learn how to access hard disk data without OS in the next part.

How to recover data from hard disk without OS

When the operating system on computer is broken or cannot boot, you just cannot access the hard drive data. Under such circumstances, you can try the following three methods to help you recover data from hard disk without OS.

Method 1. Connect hard disk to another computer for backing up data

If you want to backup data from hard disk without OS, you can connect the hard disk with other working computers. Then, you can backup data from hard disk without OS on this booting computer with Windows built-in backup tool, or the simple copy and paste, or some other backup software, just like backup an external hard drive.

external hard drive

Method 2. Use Windows installation disc to backup data

If your computer cannot boot, then, backup data on the hard disk could be a very hard thing. But if you have a Windows installer disc, things would be easier. You can boot your computer through the installation CD and recover data from hard disk. Have no installation disc at hand? Well, you can refer to Method 3 to get a workaround method.

Here we will take Windows 8 as an example. First, insert Windows 8 installer disc into your computer and restart it. If everything is working properly, you will see the message: “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.” like the following screenshot.


Then, you need to press any key to move on. But if you do not see the message, you should get into your computer’s BIOS to change the boot settings so that it can boot from the installer disc. (Restart the computer and press BIOS key, usually, it’s Esc/Delete/F2 to access the BIOS menu.)

When you move to Windows Setup screen, you should click Repair your computer if you are not planning to install system now.

Repair Your Computer

Then, you should click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.

Command Prompt

Then, it will display you the Command Prompt. Type notepad, press Enter. It will launch a Notepad window. Then, you need to click File and select Open in the Notepad Window.

Notepad from Windows Installer Disc

Make sure that you select All Files in the Files of type (nearly at the bottom of the next screenshot, then, click Computer at the left pane. You can use this Open dialog as a Windows Explorer where you can select files to copy them to any other place like another external hard drive you connect with your computer before.

File Manager in Windows Installer

Once you are done with backup from the hard disk without OS, you can close the windows and shut down your computer.

Note: When you try to open the files or Notepad, do not double-click them, otherwise, it may be frozen. If the Notepad freezes on you, you can go back to the Command Prompt window and type taskmgr to launch the Task Manger, and you can end the frozen here and re-launch Notepad.

Method 3. Create bootable media to backup data from hard disk without OS

If you do not have a Windows installer disc, don’t worry, one free third-party software AOMEI Backupper Standard would help you to backup data from hard disk without OS.

First, you need to download and install this software on another working computer and then create a bootable USB or CD/DVD with Create Bootable Media feature in it. 

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Plug the USB drive in your computer, launch the AOMEI Backupper, go to Tools > Create Bootable Media and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the rest of the steps. The bootable USB is able to boot any version of OS.

Create Bootable USB

Then, unplug the bootable USB you created before and plug it into your computer that contains the hard disk you want to backup data from, start the computer from the USB drive, and it will show you the main interface of AOMEI Backupper. Afteward, follow the steps below to backup data from hard drive.

1. Click Backup and then choose Disk Backup.

Disk Backup

2. Then, choose the disk you need to backup.

Select Disk

3. Then, select the destination disk to store the data. And click Start Backup to execute it.

Start Backup

This operation only backup data currently on the hard drive, not including changes made later. To keep all changes made later, you need to set Schedule Backup and image SSD automatically. You can choose among Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event trigger, and USB Plug in. The last two premium features are available on the professional version.

Schedule Backup

By default this software will create one full backup and 6 incremental backup if you set a scheduled backup task. This may result in backup disk full issue in the long run, thus it's suggested to enable Backup Scheme and delete backup file automatically. You have 3 options, By quantity,  By time, By daily/weekly/monthly. You need to upgrade now (5% off for one computer) before using it. 

Enable Automatic Backup Cleanup

And the incremental backup has high requirement for recovery while differential backup is much easier. For differences between them, learn my previous article: Incremental or Differential Backup.

Besides, you still can enable email notification after the task finished. Comment, split, compress the backup image, or select a backup mode, etc. 

AOMEI Email SMS Notification Settings

Now, you can feel free to do your own things, this software will backup data from hard drive without OS and be sure there is always enough space to store new backups. And you don't need to worry about computer failure and data loss due to many reasons.


That’s all for how to backup data from hard disk without OS. First, you can try to connect the hard drive to another computer to access hard disk data. If it does not work, you can use bootable media to boot the computer and recover the data. AOMEI Backupper can help you create a bootable disc easily.

By the way, AOMEI Backupper Standard also has many other features that you can use to keep data safe. You can create schedule backup task to help you backup your system, hard drive, partitions or files. In this way, you will never worry system crash in the future because the backup image can help you restore computer to an earlier date that works well as soon as possible.