Safest way to recover files from HDD

One of my co workers has an old computer with a 10gb hdd. He says it keeps giving him a boot manager error and won't let him into Windows. He decided to go ahead and let me build him a new computer, and he wants his pictures, music, and outlook express contacts off of his old drive if possible. I'm not sure what exactly is wrong with his old comp. as I haven't seen it myself, but what would be the safest way to try to recover his files without the risk of infecting his new machine? The guy he bought the computer from is into hacking and pirates all kinds of stuff so there's a decent possibility there could be some viruses, rootkits, malware etc. BTW he did have Kaspersky.
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  1. Best answer
    Hi there,

    Must be an older PATA? HDD if just 10 GB.
    The Boot Manager is just 1 of 6 stages of Starting Up a computer - from POST to LogOn onto the desktop.

    A Boot manager error could be related to installing a dual boot system, or changing the Boot.ini, or a boot sector virus might do it.

    The safest way to check it out since it won't boot, is to attach the HDD as a regular Basic drive to a desktop or laptop with an up to date Antivirus program like Norton, or McAfee, or Kaparski, and run the antivirus/antimalware/antirootkit program against the suspicious drive.

    When known clean, you can either replace the Boot manager, or just copy the data from the small drive to a separate partition or separate folder on the desktop computer.

    What OS are you using with this 10GB HDD?
    Most Windows based OS have a utility to replace the MBR, BootSector, and Boot Configuration Database or Boot.ini files to get it operational again.
  2. He was using XP, and he didn't do anything to it, he doesn't really know anything about computers. I don't think he really cares about getting it to work because I just built him a new one over the weekend. I was just concerned that if I connect it to his new computer it could be infected before the antivirus has a chance to scan it.
  3. Hi there,

    Depends how important the photos and saved data is to him, on the other HDD.

    When you connect a HDD to a computer, even if the HDD has 50 viruses on it, they will not be executed unless you open a file or run a program containing a virus on that HDD. Just mounting the HDD won't cause any program to run or files to open.

    So, it is safe to connect the "suspicious" HDD to a computer, and run your Antivirus program against that whole drive. As long as you don't activate an executable containing a virus or worm or trojan or rootkit on that "suspicioius HDD, it won't spread to your main computer drive.

    It's the same as downloading a file and saving it to your HDD. You run your antivirus program against that single file to see if it is "clean", and if so, then you can safely open it, or install the program safely.

    I always save, not "run" any update or new program's executable file to a folder on my HDD. No execptions. Then check it with my antivirus program, and only when I know for sure it is malware free, do I update a program or install a new appl I want to use.

    So you can safely check the "suspicious" HDD if it does have valuable photos or other data on it, as long as you are careful and methodical.
  4. Best answer selected by Andon48.
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