Someone told me to put Ubuntu on a USB when my Windows became corrupted (for some unknown reason) a few weeks ago. But I need access to my hard drive. Most things are backed up but I don't think everything is. I need to check it. I have not installed Ubuntu, I am running it off the USB. I have watched a dozen YouTube videos and read instructions on how to mount the hard drive but I cannot do it. I don't understand the language used in the answers or videos. I need someone to explain it to me like I am person who uses computers solely to compose word documents and for the internet. That is my level.

I know how to get to the disk and can see what I believe is my hard drive listed, but I don't know what to do after that.

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    Please do the following ( I assume you are running ubuntu from the USB), press CTRL+ALT+T to open a terminal and then, type the following command and then press ENTER: lsblk Then, please copy and paste the output into your question. Also, to properly format the output as code, highlight the text and then press CTRL+K before saving your edit to your question. If this is too much, just post the output and someone like me will fix the formatting for you. Thanks! – mchid Jul 1 '16 at 18:27
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    In the Nautilus file manager, where you see your hard drive listed, try clicking on it. Can you see any files (or an error message) – Nick Weinberg Jul 1 '16 at 18:28

On the left of the screen, near the top, there should be an icon that looks like a file cabinet. Click it. It might flash for a bit, then a window should open.

Near the left of this window, there should be a "Devices" label. Under it, you should see your hard drive partitions (a partition is basically a section of your hard drive). If there's more than one, you probably won't recognize the one you want, but that's okay; just click on all the drives under the "Devices" label and look for a folder named Users in each one (the files and folders in the drive you clicked on will be shown in the main section of the window)

Once you've found the partition you want (the one with the Users folder in it), double click on the Users folder. There should be a folder for your user (its name will be your username); double-click on it. Your Documents, Pictures, Music, etc. folders should be there; double-click on them to go into them and press the back button in the top left to go back to your user folder. Any public files should be in the Public user folder.


First open terminal by holding ctrl + alt then click t. With Terminal open you are ready to begin.

Next, you will want to list your drives. You have a few options. I like fdisk but you could also run lsblk as it may be easier for you. You can skip down to lsblk as I explain this below too.


fdisk -l

This will output a bunch of details about your hard drives. What you are looking for is /dev/sd* (* in this case, means any letter a-z. e.g. My primary drive is /dev/sda)

You will also want to look at the Device details for the drive to identify the partition on the drive that holds the OS. For me, this is /dev/sda1. (sda being the hard drive, sda1 with 1 being the partition of the drive that is my OS. You can tell this due to the size of the partition.)

Next you will want to see what is already mounted.

df -h

Will show you what is currently mounted. You are making sure that the drive you identified in the first step is not already listed in here (this would be /dev/sda1 as my example above) as mounted. If it is located in this list, you will see the mount point (where you need to go to access the drive) on the right side and there is nothing more to do other than to cd to that location to access your files.



This outputs a simple representation of your hard drive structure that is easier to understand than fdisk. You are still trying to identify the hard drive location /dev/sda and the OS partition /dev/sda1 as I explain in fdisk. You can see in this output if there is a mount point for the drive you are looking for too; if so, there is nothing more to do other than to cd to that location to access your files.

Mounting the Drive

If you do not see the drive listed as mounted, you will want to mount it.

To mount the drive you need to first prepare a location to mount it. I like to use /mnt/Windows so let's create that mount point.

sudo mkdir /mnt/Windows

Now that the mount point is created, to mount the drive to it you run: (Note that I am using /dev/sda1 as /dev/sda is the drive I wanted to mount and the partition on the mount is 1 for my case; if yours is different you will want to use that letter you got from step 1)

sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/Windows

Now you should be able to see the files by running ls

ls -la /mnt/Windows
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    Since this person is a new user, it would be better to have them use the GUI instead of CLI. For example, they could use gnome-disks. – wjandrea Jul 1 '16 at 18:56
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    or gparted especial as the visualistion helps people to understand how a disk is divided. – Kupferdrache Jul 1 '16 at 19:19
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    @Kupferdrache: Tss! Tss ! I would not trust many beginners with GParted while on their own, no matter how lucid they are. Verrry unsafe. – Cbhihe Jul 1 '16 at 20:21

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