How to recover data in dos mode


Apr 2, 2011
I have a laptop that I cannot get to boot up into windows. I can get into dos mode by pressing f2, f8, f12. However, get a message saying Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt <windows root>\system32\hal.dll. I cannot get anywhere with any of the prompts in f8. I don't have the actual XP software, since it came on the laptop when purchased. I have tried to load a copy of XP but it will not take it. I have read about needing to fix the registry, but I am not able to download anything while in dos mode. I am not sure what my options are here. I can just wipe out everything and start over, I know, but I need the files and data that is on my desktop. Is there a way to save from starting over or at least to get my data? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance:) Pam

Rusting In Peace

Jul 2, 2009
So a common technique that I use to recover data is to load up a live version of Ubuntu.

It's basically an installation of the Ubuntu operating system on a cd. You take the CD, switch on your machine, boot into the CD and you can get some access to your hard drive to copy over files to a USB device. Then when you're finished you can disconnect the usb drive, tell ubuntu to shutdown, and take out the CD. Your laptop's hard drive is unmodified and you have your files on USB.

Here's a link to Ubuntu and how to create the live CD. Click on the "Show Me How" buttons if you want extra info on each step:

Make sure when you boot into the CD you choose "Try Ubuntu" rather than install ubuntu. Choosing the wrong option here will delete your windows installation!


May 17, 2010
I have a solution for you to repair your machine, not a way to copy off the files. You're going to need: Somebody else's computer with XP, a flash drive (preferably a few GBs), an Ubuntu ISO. You have two ways you can do this. You can burn the Ubuntu ISO to a CD or you can put it on a flash drive using the Universal USB Installer. Then, go to your friend's computer, and go to C:\Windows\System32 and copy HAL.dll to your flash drive (whether or not you have Ubuntu installed on it). Then, boot your computer from either the CD or USB, go to "Try Ubuntu," and copy the HAL.dll from the flash drive to your laptop's C:\Windows\System32 directory. Your computer should then be able to boot properly into Windows.