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Since October 2018, I have an HP EliteBook 840 G5 (region: Europe/Austria, language: German) and back then I installed Debian on it (by now it is Debian 10 "Buster").

Quite recently, through updates, installing software and changing configuration things, it turns out, that I broke a lot. I can still boot into the machine and access files, so not all is lost and no actual data below /home is corrupted. Though after a few minutes after every booting the machine freezes and only a hard reboot can be done. Also in the past I was very bad with backup routines.

Here, I do not want to ask how to rescue the machine. I also do not want to ask in general how to save the files stored on it, but I want to ask the following, from a way more specific angle:

I have an external hard drive and what I want to do is

  • save as many data that is currently on my machine as possible onto that external hard drive,
  • by using a Linux Live Distribution.

So my idea and my requirements for the Live Distribution for data recovery are:

  • As every Live media, I want to boot it with my machine from an USB stick,
  • it then should have the possibility to access the actual hard drive of the machine,
  • it should be able to mount the hard drive and
  • it should be capable to mediate the file transfer from the hard drive of my machine to my external hard drive.
  • Finally, it should be stable, i.e. be a Linux Live Distribution known to freeze only very rarely.

With that, I would like to ask you, what Live USB/Linux Live Distribution would you recommend, that fits best for this task with my given requirements?

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The most stable way to rescue data is to not use a Live system booted onto the laptop, but instead disconnect the harddisk and mount it on a different computer running a known stable non-live system.

But since you specifically ask about running a live system...

For simple tasks, I would use the latest stable release of the Live system provided by Debian.

For more advanced rescue tasks, I would use one of the Live systems recommended by the Forensics team in Debian. It seems that means Remnux, Backtrack, Kali, and Deft - but beware that it is a wiki page so might not reflect those most knowledeable on the topic: Drop an email and ask the developers which they would recommend for the specific tasks you intend on doing.

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  • In general, yes, I see that, though the hard drive has no issues, thus in this case I actively asked for a live system. Turns out, Deft was perfectly suited for my task! It's a pity that it's development and support has been discontinued. I used a version from 2018. Thus, thank you for your answer and thank you for pointing me to Deft!
    – PolII
    Mar 3 at 15:32
  • Happy that it worked out for you!
    – Jonas
    Mar 4 at 10:56

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