By Ivy / Last update December 13, 2021

How to backup data when Windows cannot boot normally?

Many things can cause your system fail to boot. When you can load Windows 10/8/7 successfully, you can try Windows recovery options to restore your system back. If you have not set up a full backup, then you are at risk of losing data. Then you should be very careful to handle this situation.

In order to prevent data loss in the process of restoring system, you can backup files in Safe Mode in advance. Generally, when your system is unable to boot Windows normally, you can enter Safe Mode.

If the Safe Mode is not an option, you can also backup hard drive without booting Windows.

When you decide to reset your computer to factory default or reinstall Windows, you should create a backup of your valuable files.

If the hard drive or SSD is failing, then you should also backup the data before replacing it. For example, if you receive Hard Disk Error 301 at startup, which means the hard drive is failing, then you really should backup your data as soon as possible.

Can I backup my files in Safe Mode?

Well, most of the backup program will not work in Safe Mode. Luckily, no matter you are running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, you can always use WBadmin commands to backup your computer data.

To do that, you need to know where the data are saved on your hard drive, a working hard drive (internal or external) formatted with NTFS. If you have network drive set up, you can also backup to network drive.

Backup files in Safe Mode step by step

WBadmin is a command backup utility that allows you to backup data with a command prompt or PowerShell (Windows 10). You can follow the steps below to get it done:

1. Start your computer, and press the F8 key repeatedly before showing the Windows logo.

2. It will lead you to Advanced Boot Options. From there, select Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

Safe Mode Command Prompt

3. Within the command prompt, you can enter a WBadmin command to backup your data. For example, if you want to backup all the data saved on C: drive to F: drive, then you can type:

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

If your need to replace the hard drive, then you should use WBadmin to backup the entire hard drive or critical volumes, so you can restore it to another hard drive.

To backup system drive and all the critical volumes, type the following:

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

4. Then it will show you the detail of the operation and ask your confirmation. Just type “Y” to start backing up under Safe Mode.

If you do not want to be prompted to confirm, you can add “-quiet” switch to the command.

If, however, you cannot even boot into Safe Mode, you can still backup your files without any requirements for Windows system.

How to backup files when you cannot boot into Safe Mode?

In order to backup data when system won’t boot, you need working computer running Windows s 10/8/7 and a writable USB drive or CD/DVD disc. Also, you’ll need a backup software, here AOMEI Backupper Standard is recommended because it is free and easy to use.

Step1. Download and Install this free backup software on the working computer. In its main interface, click Tools and select Create Bootable Media.

Create Bootable Media

Step2. Follow the wizard to create a Windows PE bootable media. You can also select the Linux based bootable media. To use the full features like hard drive cloning, you should select the Windows PE.

Windwos Bootable Disc

Step3. When that’s done, insert this bootable disk to the computer that needs backing up. Also, you should change the computer boot option to allow the computer to boot from the bootable media that you just created.

Step4. Then it will load to the main console of AOMEI Backupper. Under Backup tab, select the type of backup that you want to perform. You can backup the entire hard drive by using Disk Backup. If you only need to backup some of the files, just select File Backup. Here, let’s take Disk backup as an example.

Disk Backup

Step5. Select the source disk that you want to backup and select the destination location to store your backup. You can backup to USB external hard drive or NAS (network attached storage).

Add Disk

Step6. In the Operation Summary screen, confirm the operation to start backup data without booting into Windows. There are also some Backup Options that you can choose based on your preference.

Start Backup

In conclusion, before you do anything that might hard your data on the hard drive, no matter you choose to backup files in Safe Mode or backup without booting Windows is okay.

If you do not like an image backup, you can also clone the hard drive to another one without imaging using AOMEI Backupper Standard.