January 27, 2014
I say, use Mint (Mate version), only because I personally find it a bit slicker to open the non-booting MS drive in a tab, with the backup drive as the tab to the right. I've always recovered files left to right...just seems the proper direction, somehow. Oh, and Mint looks close enough to Windows you shouldn't have an issue with it's layout.
You can Google how to download & create a bootable USB drive. Plenty of Youtubes on it. If creating from within Windows, I find Unetbootin (https://unetbootin.github.io/) does a great job of it.
Get into the habit of recovering only a few items/folders at a time, as the MS drive may be failing, it can cause the entire transfer to die & you won't know where you are then in the transfer process. At that point, you delete the partially-moved ones & start again-- with less this time. Slow & steady wins the race, as they say. Now, go & "save that data!"
Once your data is safe, you can move along to whether it's worth it to you to replace or upgrade/reinstall. I will say that I've had more than a few clients upgrade (cheap, they said) to a really anemic-by-comparison-to-old-laptop and end up having me redo that one anyway. Food for thought.
April 29, 2013
I keep Linux Mint Mate installed on a SanDisk SSD and when I get a sick Windows PC in I will pop that thing in and use the boot option to boot into the PC. I can then retrieve files to a USB drive. I also have Zorin 12.1 on a SanDisk SSD, Linux on a SSD is fast, even on older PC's. For older XP PC's that come my way and the customer agrees, I will usually install the Q40S distro, mostly because it will burn to CD-R and still boot with the older CD players. It is a fairly good lite weight distro and runs well on older PC's, when properly setup.
I have ran so many different distros, and some I like and some I hate. I now try to stay with the Debian apt-get based distros, they just seem easier to setup. Been thinking about doing a little comparison between distros post, but I doubt if anyone on DCT would be very interested.
As W7 gets nearer it's end then the interest in Linux may change. Daniel.
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