If your PC is not booting anymore, you cannot get any work done. If massive files are saved on the unbootable PC, what should you do? The urgent way is to back up data without booting OS to avoid data loss and then take action to get rid of trouble. This post from MiniTool will show you how to back up files when the computer won’t boot with professional backup software.

Windows Not Booting: Backing up Data Is Important

Now and then, you may encounter countless computer issues, especially PC not booting due to virus attack, hard drive failure, Windows updates, power outage, mistaken operations and so forth. Once the PC fails to boot to Windows, you can do nothing but look for ways to fix the problem.

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Usually, as for ordinary users, to reinstall the operating system can help to rebuild the OS. Perhaps you are also such a one person. However, what should you do if there are a number of important files saved on the hard disk of the computer that won’t boot?

In this case, you need to find a way to back them up or access files without booting Windows so as to save them to a safe location. Well then, how to back up data from a computer that won’t boot? Here, we will tell you the easy ways to access hard disk without OS and back up files.

How to Back up Data without Booting into Windows 10/8/7

Way 1: Use Windows Backup Software – MiniTool ShadowMaker

When it comes to data backup in case of Windows Not Booting , some of you probably think it is not easy to implement. Actually, PC backup is fairly simple and easy as long as you ask a piece of third-party software for help.

In the market, you can find various backup programs but which one is worthy of being chosen? Here, we highly recommend using MiniTool ShadowMaker, professional and reliable backup software for Windows 10 /8/7.

This Windows backup software enables you to back up the operating system, files & folders, partition or the entire disk. Besides, it can also help you to sync files to another location. Additionally, it offers a feature to clone the entire disk to another drive for backup.

Above all, it allows you to create a bootable CD/DVD disc, USB hard disk or USB flash drive with MiniTool Media Builder to boot the failed PC and then perform a file backup easily.

What do you hesitate? Right now, get MiniTool ShadowMaker to have a try. Note that to back up data without booting in WinPE is a paid feature, so you need to purchase its Pro Edition from the store page . Or, download its Trial Edition to free use within 30 days.

Free Download

Move 1: Create a Bootable Disc or Drive

Step 1: Please prepare a CD/DVD, USB hard disk or USB flash drive that can be written and read.

Step 2: Install MiniTool ShadowMaker on a working computer and launch it.

Step 3: Go to the Tools window, and click the Media Builder feature.

Step 4: Then, you will receive an interface where you need to click WinPE-based media with MiniTool plug-in section to continue.

Step 5: Here, some options are offered and you need to select a bootable destination type. Note that if you connect one external hard drive to your PC, the option USB Hard Disk will be displayed. Here, we take creating a bootable USB flash drive as an example. Just click USB Flash Disk section to start the creation.

create a bootable disc or USB drive

After finishing the bootable disc or USB drive creation, now connect your device to the PC that cannot boot to Windows and change the boot order in BIOS to let the non-working PC run from the created disc or drive. Then, you can start to back up data without booting OS easily.

Related article: How to Boot from Burned MiniTool Bootable CD/DVD and USB Flash Drive/Hard Disk?

Move 2: Back up Files without Windows

① Back up Files via Imaging Method

Now, it is time for you to back up files or rescue files when Windows won’t start. How to perform file backup with MiniTool ShadowMaker Bootable Edition?

Step 1: In the MiniTool PE Loader interface, you can click the corresponding section to run this backup software.

MiniTool PE loader

Step 2: Then, MiniTool ShadowMaker will automatically go to the Backup page where the system partitions are selected by default. Here, in order to back up data from a computer that won’t boot, please click the Source section to go to the following window.

select backup source

Then, click Folders and Files to select data you want to back up. Here, you can click the Computer option and then go to one drive to choose the backup source.

select files to back up

Step 3: After completing the source selection, now go to the Destination part to specify a path to save the backed up files . Here, an external hard drive or a USB flash drive is recommended.

select destination path

Note: Don’t save backed up files to the hard drive of the computer that won’t boot.

Step 4: Finally, go back to the Backup window and then tap the Back up Now button to start file backup right now.

back up data without booting using MiniTool ShadowMaker

Now, all the information via the image backup method provided by MiniTool ShadowMaker about how to back up data from a computer that won’t boot is shown to you. Additionally, this software also allows you to sync files to a safe location and the synchronized files can be directly accessed without image recovery.

② Sync Files for Backup without Booting

How to back up files without Windows via sync? Similarly, do this in MiniTool WinPE.

Free Download

Step 1: After launching MiniTool ShadowMaker, go to the Sync window.

Step 2: Click the Source and Destination part to choose the files that you want to back up and the storage path.

Step 3: Click the Sync Now button to immediately back up files to the specified path. Similarly, please note that don’t save the files to the original hard drive where the unbootable OS is installed.

back up files without Windows via file sync with MiniTool ShadowMaker

In conclusion, now all the steps to back up data without booting Windows are told to you. Want to have a try to rescue files when Windows won’t start? Just get MiniTool ShadowMaker from the following button. Or you can share this excellent backup software with your friends on Twitter.

Free Download Click to Tweet

Tip: If you want to back up the entire disk data, you can clone the whole hard drive to your external hard drive .

Further Reading:

Some of you may choose to recover files from the unbootable PC rather than backing up data without booting. Well then, how to recover files from a hard drive that won’t boot?

Here, you still need to use a piece of professional data backup software . To easily get files back, MiniTool Power Data Recovery is worth recommending. It enables you to recover existing files and lost files from a hard drive easily in case of PC not booting.

To perform data recovery, you need to use its Bootable Edition that can be got from Personal Edition or an advanced one. Then, use the Bootable Media feature to create a bootable disc or USB drive to boot the PC and then perform the recovery.

rescue files when windows won't start

How to recover files from a hard drive that won’t boot? Here we won’t show you steps and you can read this post - How to Recover Data When PC Won't Boot (Works 100%) to learn more.

Way 2: Back up Files from Command Prompt Windows 10/8/7

In addition to accessing hard disk without OS and backing up data by using the third-party backup software, some of you may choose to back up files using command prompt.

How to copy files without Windows to an external hard drive using command prompt? See the following step-by-step guide. Here, we show you how to back up files from command prompt in Windows 10.

Step 1: When PC is not booting, you can restart your operating system several times when seeing the Windows logo screen until the Automatic Repair interface appears. Or prepare a Windows 10 installation disc to boot the PC to the installation screen and then click Repair your computer .

Step 2: Then, navigate to Troubleshooting > Advanced options to choose Command Prompt .

Advanced options in WinRE

Step 3: In the CMD window, type Notepad.exe and press the Enter key to launch the Notepad application.

Step 4: Once the app is launched, go to File tab and click Save As option to open the Save As dialogue.

use command prompt to open notepad app

Step 5: Next, click This PC section, locate to the partition where files that you want to back up are stored and change the Save as type to All Files .

Step 6: Connect your USB flash drive or external hard disk to the non-working PC.

Step 7: Right-click on the folder or file you need to back up and choose the Send to option to easily copy files without Windows to your connected device.

back up files from command prompt Windows 10

Tip: In addition to using Notepad to back up data via Command Prompt, some of you may choose to use the command line Xcopy to copy files without Windows. This is quite complicated, so here we won’t recommend it.

Right now, all steps to back up files from command prompt without booting into Windows are told to you. By contrast, using MiniTool ShadowMaker is more flexible and convenient since it allows you to create an image of important files, sync files or clone the entire disk data. Here, we strongly suggest using this backup software to back up data without booting OS.

Free Download

Take Action to Fix Non-working PC

After backing up your critical files, now you may look for solutions to get rid of the unbootable computer. According to the different system issues, the methods are also different. Just search for solutions to the actual problem on the internet.

If you think fixing is quite troublesome, you can go to Windows Recovery Environment and choose to reset your PC. Or you can choose to reinstall OS on the original disk to fix the unbootable PC. Just go to the Microsoft website to download MediaCreationTool.exe . Then, use the tool to create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) to install Windows 10.

Suggestion: Back up Windows OS Regularly for PC Protection

After fixing your PC or reinstalling OS, we suggest that you should back up your operating system on a regular basis. Once the system goes wrong, the system backup can be used to restore the PC to a normal state.

Here, MiniTool ShadowMaker is still helpful to create a system image backup. Just get it on the computer and have a try.

Free Download

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker in Windows 10/8/7, and choose the Local module to continue.

Step 2: By default, this backup software helps you to select the system partitions as the backup source. Just choose an external hard drive or USB flash drive as the destination path.

Step 3: Click Back up Now button to start the system backup right now.

MiniTool ShadowMaker system backup

Tip: If you need to back up Windows regularly, you can take advantage of the Schedule feature to specify a certain time point to perform automatic backups.


PC is not booting now? Back up your important data immediately. How to back up data from a computer that won’t boot? This post shows you two ways, just follow the guide to back up data without booting OS.

Should you have any ways to copy files without Windows, or experience any problem during the backup when using our software, please contact [email protected] or leave your idea in the comment part.

How to Back up Data without Booting into Windows FAQ

How do I recover files from an unbootable hard drive?
  1. Run MiniTool Power Data Recovery Bootable Edition .
  2. In the This PC section, choose the drive that contains the lost files and click Scan .
  3. Wait a few minutes until the scan completes.
  4. Check all the items that you want to recover and click Recover .
  5. Specify a path for the recovered files.
Can you back up a computer in Safe Mode?
Of course, you can back up your PC in Safe Mode. Just search for a third-party backup program on the Internet and use it to do this work.
Can a computer work without a hard drive?
Typically, an operating system is installed on a hard drive. Even so, you can try some other ways to run a computer without one, for example, boot the PC over a network, via a CD/DVD or a USB drive.
What can I do with a dying hard drive?
  1. Back up your important data if the disk slows down and works normally
  2. Recover data from the dead hard drive if it’s inaccessible
  3. Replace the dying hard drive with a new disk
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