By Lily / Last update June 12, 2018

There are many reasons would cause Windows won’t boot issues. If you cannot boot into Windows, and you have never backup files before, it means you cannot access files that stored on the computer.

Many users would try to use Windows recovery tools to fix the Windows Startup issues. Some would be worked, but some errors can’t be fix through recovery environment. But fortunately, it is possible to backup files like documents, pictures, music, and other data if Windows doesn’t boot.

Well, how to backup files if Windows doesn’t boot? Here we will work together the figure out how to backup data from a computer that won’t boot.

How to backup files if Windows doesn’t boot?

As the Windows won’t boot isn’t a strange thing, more and more users’ great concern is how to backup files when computer won’t boot. Well, here we will provides you three methods in different situations.

Backup files in Safe Mode of Windows 10/8/7

If your computer won’t boot, you can try to boot it from Safe Mode Command Prompt, and use the WBadmin (a command backup utility that allows you to backup data with a command prompt or PowerShell (Windows 10) from Safe Mode) to backup files in safe mode. You can follow the steps below:

1. Start your computer, and press the F8 key repeatedly.

2. It will lead you to Advanced Boot Options. Use the arrow key to select Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

Safe Mode Command Prompt

3. Then, you will get into command prompt and enter a WBadmin to backup data without booting into Windows. For example, if you need to backup C: drive to external hard drive (here is F:), you can type the following commands:

Wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:F:-include:C:

* While if you need to replace the hard drive, then you should use WBadmin to backup whole hard drive in order to keep all old data on the hard drive.

4. After that, it will show you the detail of the operation and ask your confirmation. Just type “Y” to start backing up under Safe Mode. And the files can be transferred out after the proceed done.

Backup files with Windows installation disc

If you cannot boot from Safe Mode, you can try to boot the computer from a Windows installation disc, and backup files.

1. Insert the Windows installation disc to the unbootable PC. Turn on your computer. It will ask you to press any key to boot from CD or DVD. Like the following picture.

Press Any Key

2. Then, Windows starts loading files from the installation disc. When it get into Install Windows screen, you can click Repair your computer in the lower left corner.

3. Then, you will get into the Advanced options window. Here you need to click Troubleshoot -> Advanced Options -> Command Prompt.

Command Prompt

4>. When the Command Prompt opened, type notepad and press Enter to launch a Notepad window. Click File and select Open in the Notepad window.


5>. Ensure you select the All Files option at the bottom of the window, and then click the Computer option.

6>. You can use this Open dialog as if it were a Windows Explorer window - select files and you’ll be able to copy and paste them to a USB drive or removable hard drive you connected to your computer.

All Files

* Do not double-click any files or Notepad will try to open them, possibly freezing.

After backup files without OS, you can close the windows and shut down your computer.

Backup files without booting into Windows

If you cannot boot from Safe Mode, and you do not have any Windows installation disc, it is highly recommend to use a free third party software AOMEI Backupper to create a bootble media, which allows you to access and backup files if Windows doesn’t boot. To backup files without booting into Windows, you need three things:

  • A spare flash drive of 32GB or more, which you must wipe to install Windows.

  • A working computer to set up the bootable USB flash drive with Windows.

  • An external drive, a sufficiently large flash drive, or cloud storage space to backup/copy your files on the unbootable PC.

After the preparing, you can start to use AOMEI Backupper to backup files without boot Windows as the following steps:

Step 1. Free download AOMEI Backupper and install it to the working computer. Plug in the USB flash drive to the computer, make sure it can be detected. Launch AOMEI Backupper.

Step 2. To create a bootable USB drive, here you need to click Utilities ->Create Bootable Media.

Create Bootable Media

Step 3. Here you can choose the type of emergency bootable disc that you are trying to create. Here we choose create bootable disc based on Windows PE (*You may be asked to install Windows AIK).

Windows PE

Step 4. Then, you can specify the storage media. Here we select USB Boot Device. And click Next, wait till the progress done.

USB Boot Device

Step 5. When you create bootable USB drive successful, you can close the program, eject the USB drive from the working computer, and then, plug in the bootable USB drive and external hard drive to the unbootable Windows PC. Start the PC from the bootable USB drive. It will show you the main interface if it boot smoothly. Click Backup -> File Backup.

Note: you may need to enter into BIOS to change the boot order so that you can boot from the USB drive.

Step 6. Add the files or folders you need to backup in the unbootable PC. And select the external hard drive as the destination drive. Then, click Start Backup and wait the progress complete.

Choose File

If you want to backup all files on the hard drive, AOMEI Backupper allows you to backup disk that you won’t miss any files. You can also upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional to unlock more advanced features like System Clone if you need.


When you want to backup files if Windows doesn’t boot, you can try those three methods we mentioned above. It is no doubt that using AOMEI Backupper to create a bootable media is great helpful when you cannot boot from Safe Mode, or do not have any Windows installation disc. If you are using Windows Server OS, the AOMEI Backupper Server is suitable for you.