I’ve got 3 computers from family members I need to fix. They have a spectrum of problems from virus’s/trojans to hard drive failures. The easiest/fastest way to get on top of this is to do a fresh install of 32-bit Win7 (I’m running WIn 7 64 so I can’t just copy my HD) to an extra HD and boot their computers with it so I can pull all their personal data that needs to be saved. Plus I could use it to protect from copying over and viruss or trojans.
The thing I’m worried about is I only have one copy/license of Windows 7 (this machine). Will there be any problems if I do this? Will Microsoft think I’m trying to pirate my one legal copy and deactivate my serial number? I’ll be wiping their hard drives and installing their old OS’s after getting the data.
If you go your route, you can just skip the activation entirely, sice you’ll only have Win 7 on there for a short time. That said, it seems like an incredibly tedious method to accomplish what you’re looking for.
Boot off a Live CD, like Ubuntu, and then just copy their data to an external USB drive.
Ditto what mono said. Download this (Ubuntu 10.04), burn it to a CD, boot up off of it, and select the “Try Ubuntu” rather than the install option – it’ll boot into the OS, and you should be able to copy everything you need.
Plus, it won’t change or install a single bit on the computer, so if you get stymied by it somehow, you can just turn it off, no harm no foul. IE, as long as you don’t tell it to install, it’s risk-free :)
No special drivers or anything needed, unless you’ve got something really, REALLY esoteric (I’ll bet you a hundred bucks you don’t :)
And, as sinfony said, go to System -> Administration -> Disk Utility for a basic partitioning/formatting utility. (I don’t think Disk Utility does partition resizing or any of the fancier stuff; if you want that, go download the latest gparted live CD, and do the burn-to-CD-and-boot thing with it).