By Delia / Last update May 11, 2022

In need of copying files without booting Windows


Hello. I’m looking for a way to copy files without Windows Explorer, maybe without Windows operating system. My Dell PC almost died and I built a new one. I don’t think I can boot the Dell PC correctly. But I need all personal files on the Data drive. Is there an approach where I can access the drive and get my files? Thanks.

Getting similar troubles with the user in the example? Indeed, rescuing files from unbootable Windows OS is the most common reason for copying without Windows for the majority of the users. Lots of computer behaviors such as system migration, hardware modification, hard drive failure, human error, etc. are likely to cause the boot issue.

Absolutely, there are other reasons accounts for copying files without operating system. Here are some known advantages.

  • Taking less time. Without the interrupting of other hardware or software, copying files without Windows takes much less time than doing under Windows environment when copying the same amount of files.

  • Avoid unnecessary problems. This method can perfectly avoid the potential troubles like software conflicting or file is occupied.

  • Has greater possibility to complete the copying task. The less influence it receives from outside environment, the greater possibility for success it has.

No matter which reason force you come here, it is more important to find out how to move files without the Windows environment.

How to copy files without Windows OS in Windows 10/8/7? (2 ways)

In fact, there are many ways available in this situation. However, finding the simplest one could save your time and effort. With the help of AOMEI Backupper Standard, all you need is a USB flash drive which is used as the bootable media. Then, you can copy files to another place like external storage, NAS or network share in Windows Pre-install Environment (WinPE).

In short, it will copy files in two parts. The first is creating bootable USB drive and the second one is to copy files with the bootable media. Let’s take a closer look.

Easiest way to copy files on hard disk without Windows

In the first place, free download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard on your computer. Note that if you could not boot the Windows correctly, please install this software on any Windows-based computer and then follow steps below.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download
  1. Connect a USB flash drive (or CD/DVD disc) to the computer, better greater than 14GB. Run AOMEI Backupper and go "Tools" > "Create Bootable Media".

Create Bootable Media

Note: Alternatively, you could choose "Recovery Environment" under “Tools” to enable the boot option of AOMEI Backupper recovery environment. Thus you can perform backup/restore from boot even without bootable media. This feature is available in AOMEI Backupper Professional.

  1. It is suggested to choose the option “Windows PE - Create bootable disc based on Windows PE” and click Next.

Windows Bootable Disc

Notice: AOMEI Backupper will detect if you need to install Windows AIK or not (mostly you need to install this toolkit if you are running Windows XP or Vista). If you do, please install it first.

  1. On the “Select Bootable Media” page, select “USB Boot Device” option (Please select “Burn to CD/DVD if you’ve prepared a CD/DVD disc). Click Next and then the operation will start. Wait for it completes and click “Finish” at last.

Select USB Device

Now, disconnect the bootable media and shut down your PC. Reconnect the bootable media to the target PC where you’ll do the copy task. Power on and enter BIOS to change the boot order. To enter BIOS boot menu, usually you need to keep pressing Del or F2 key once powered on. Or, you can follow the on-screen prompts and get there.

  1. Set the bootable media you just created as the first boot device and press F10 to save the changes.

Boot Menu

  1. You’re almost done. Soon you’ll see a loaded AOMEI Backupper Standard again. Click “Backup” and then click “File Backup”. 

File Backup

  1. Click “Add Folder” or "Add File" to select the folder which contains the files you want to copy.

Add Folders Files

  1. Select a destination path where you want to copy files to. It could be external storage (need to connect it in advance), NAS, or network share.

Select Destination Path

  1. Finally, click “Start Backup” to execute this task. Wait for it completes and then save the files on the destination path carefully, close the program, and shut down the computer.

Transfer files without operating system with existing bootable media

If you have another bootable media like Windows Installation Disc, Recovery Drive, or Repair CD, you can follow this method to do file copying without Windows.

1. Boot up your computer with the bootable media. Go “Repair your computer” or “Advanced Options” to open Command Prompt.

2. Type notepad.exe in the Command Prompt and press Enter.

3. In Notepad, click “File” and then “Open” to get into the mini File Explorer where you could access the files you need. Select all files you need and right click them. Then, select “Send to” to choose a destination path like USB drive or DVD disc to store files.

Foster a habit of backup to protect data

As you can see it is quite troublesome to get files back when the computer fails to boot. Thus, building a good habit of backup could help you escape from those troubles.

Aforementioned backup software, AOMEI Backupper Standard, is able to create file backup, system backup, disk backup on a regular basis. It supports daily, weekly, and monthly backup. The incremental and differential backup types would help you save disk space. All you need to do is to create a backup task at the first time, and then others will be taken care of by this software. Therefore, keep it installed after copying files without Windows to back up your world.