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Using HiRens to Recover Files
If you have not yet, download HiRens from http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/. Save the ISO file and then burn it to a CD. If you do not have or like your current CD burning software, try ISO Recorder from Alex Feinman.
Boot the computer you are working on to the HiRens CD. You may need to find the boot menu or change the BIOS to allow booting from CDs. When the computer boots, you may need to hit a key to boot from CD. Do so.
Click on any image to bring it to full size.
From the Boot menu, choose Mini Windows XP. Yes, you want Mini Windows XP even if you are working on a Windows 7 or better computer. It will take a minute or so, but you will get a screen like this:
Welcome to HiRens.
Click on Network Setup and connect to your network. Now click on Click on either the File Manager, My Computer, or, Total Commander in the Programs > Browsers?File Managers section of the Program Launcher. My Computer will look just like My Computer under Windows XP. Open a connection to a network share. You will need the credentials for that network. The alternative would be to connect an USB drive and find it in the File Manager. Now, find the file(s) you are looking for. It is possible that HiRens has not given the hard drive the same drive letter you are used to. That is, the C: drive may not be the C: drive anymore. Look at the size of the drives. Copy the files you need to the Network share or USB drive.
Nicely, HiRens runs outside of the version of Windows installed on the computer. It will bypass most user restrictions on the drives. It will also run just fine on a computer with a corrupt operating system.