How to Backup Data from Hard Disk without OS

If you want to backup data from hard drive without booting Windows, read this guide to get three effective methods.


By Lily Updated on July 24, 2023

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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.

Backup Data Without OS

How to backup files without booting Windows

When the operating system on computer is broken or cannot boot, you cannot access the hard drive data as normal. Under such circumstances, you can try the following three methods to backup files without booting Windows.

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

How to take backup of laptop/desktop hard disk without OS? Try the following steps:

1. Remove the hard disk from the current computer and connect it to another working computer.

external hard drive

2. Backup data from the hard disk on this booting computer with Windows built-in backup tool, or the copy and paste way, or some other backup software, just like backup an external hard drive.

Method 2. Use Windows installation disc to backup data

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

Here we will take Windows 8 as an example.

1. 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.)

2. 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

3. Click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.

Command Prompt

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

Notepad from Windows Installer Disc

5. In the Open dialog, make sure that you select All Files in the Files of type, and then click Computer at the left pane. You can use this Open dialog as Windows Explorer where you can select files to copy them to any other place, such as an external hard drive you connect with your computer before.

File Manager in Windows Installer

6. Once you are done with backup from the hard disk without OS, you can close all 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 Manager, and you can end the frozen Notepad there 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.

  • It offers different backup types to help you backup your system, hard drive, partitions or files.
  • You can create a scheduled backup task to keep the backup image up to date.
  • It is embedded with the Create Bootable Media feature which enables you to create a bootable USB or CD/DVD.

To backup files without booting Windows, first you need to download and install this software on another working computer.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Then, plug a USB drive into the computer. Launch 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

Next, unplug the bootable USB you just created and plug it into the computer you want to backup data from. Start the computer from the USB drive, and it will show you the main interface of AOMEI Backupper. Afterward, follow the steps below to backup data from hard drive.

1. Click Backup and then choose Disk Backup to backup all data on the hard drive. If you just want to backup certain files or folders, choose File Backup instead.

Disk Backup

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

Select Disk

3. Select the destination path to store the data. You are allowed to backup to various computer backup devices. Finally, click Start Backup to execute it.

Start Backup

💛 Advanced backup settings you may need

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

Schedule Backup

👉 By default this software will create one full backup after every 6 incremental backups if you set up a scheduled backup task. This may result in backup disk full issue in the long run, thus it's suggested to enable Backup Scheme to delete backup files automatically. You need to upgrade to higher editions to enjoy auto backup deletion.

Automatic Backup Cleanup

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

Backup Options

💛 How to recover data from hard disk without OS

With a backup image and bootable USB at hand, you don't need to worry about computer failure and data loss anymore. To recover data without OS, just boot your computer from the boot disk and click Restore > Select Task/Select Image File. Then, follow the wizard to complete the recovery process.

Select Task WinPE


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. Then, you can use the Windows installation disc to boot the computer and backup data. If you don't have a Windows installation disc, AOMEI Backupper can help you create a bootable disc and backup data easily.

By the way, AOMEI Backupper Standard allows you to transfer Windows 10 from HDD to SSD using its clone feature. Don't hesitate to try it out!

Lily · Editor
Lily Green joined AOMEI in 2018 and has since become a professional in the areas of data protection and data transfer. She is committed to helping users protect their precious computer data and troubleshoot Windows system errors. She consistently stays vigilant about the latest trends in technology, guaranteeing that the given information aligned with the ongoing advancements in the field.