Best Way to Backup Hard Drive without Booting Windows

Posted by @Teresa

September 1, 2017

This tutorial will show you how to backup hard drive disk (HDD) without booting Windows or by creating Windows PE backup bootable image with AOMEI Backupper.

Why backup hard drive without booting Windows?

People encounter countless computer issues now and then in their daily life. For instance, hard drive failure, booting problem, creating system image, backup PC to external hard drive, migrate OS to SSD, etc. Some of them are system maintenance operations, while some of them would affect the use of computer. What if you are unlucky to face the problem of booting failure? Reinstall the operating system does help you rebuild the OS, but what about the photos, documents, business contracts, and emails that stored in the old OS? You need to find a way to back them up.

In another situation, say the operating system could start normally. You may also want to backup hard drive without OS since it has faster backing up speed when close all system programs. There are reasons to backup hard disk without booting system. As long as you have one of them, you need to learn how to backup hard drive without Windows.

How to backup hard drive without starting Windows?

Generally speaking, you have two ways to achieve this goal. You can backup hard drive without operating system with Command Line prompt, Installation disc or bootable media. Using Command line prompt to backup hard drive actually doesn’t fit for common users because it requires circumspection and more knowledge of computer.

Backup hard drive with Installer Disc

Firstly, insert the Installer Disc (take Windows 7 for example), you will see Press any key to boot from CD or DVD message, and then press any key.

Secondly, don’t click Install now after you enter the Installer Disc. Click Restore your computer using a system image you created earlier, then click Next -> Cancel -> Cancel. Now you will see System Recovery Options window. Select Command Prompt which is used to start another program.

Thirdly, type notepad and hit Enter. Then click open, and then select All files in the box that next to Files of type at the bottom.

Finally, click Computer, and you are able to copy and paste the files you care.

If you have no installation disc in hand, then you need to create bootable disc with USB or other discs. Furthermore, this method only helps you copy files instead of backing up the entire disk. Try creating the bootable media with AOMEI Backupper Standard. It is free for Windows 7/8/10 with no bundled adware, and it has a user-friendly interface. It supports to burn Windows PE image to CD/DVD as well as just export ISO file to other place. Download to create bootable media if necessary.

Steps to backup hard drive without OS with AOMEI Backupper

Note: Connect the USB drive or disc with your computer first. If your computer fails to boot, then complete following operations on another well-worked PC.

Step1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Click Utilities -> Create Bootable Media.

Create Bootable Media

Step2. Choose Windows PE- Create bootable disc based on Windows PE. Then 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.

Windows PE

Step3. Select Bootable Media, USB drive or disc. Click Next and wait for the process complete. It will format the USB drive first and then execute the operation.

USB boot device


Step4. Unplug the bootable device after it has been finished. Plug it into the PC that contains the hard drive you want to back it up. Start the PC directly with bootable device or enter into the BIOS to change the boot sequence, and then boot the computer. AOMEI Backupper Standard will launch automatically. Click Backup, and select Disk Backup.

Disk Backup

Step5. Add the disk you need to backup.

Select disks to backup

Step6. Select the destination location to store your backup. You can store the backup image to the USB drive. Click Start Backup.

Start Backup

Backup hard drive without booting Windows with AOMEI Backupper Standard is pretty helpful, especially when your operating system fails you. Actually, you can create a bootable USB and lay it aside. Use it when necessary. Then every time when you want to backup hard drive without OS, the last three steps are all left to do.

AOMEI Backupper Standard has many other features as you can see from the screenshot, like disk clone, transfer C drive to SSD, incremental & differential backup, schedule backup, file sync, etc. AOMEI Backupper Server is dedicated backup solution for Windows Server users. If you want to backup hard drive without booting OS in Windows Server, check this out. Besides, this edition brings you command line backup option so that you can perform unattended tasks.