What are y'all using for such instead of removing the hard drive? I've been using a bootable usb tool that is basically W10 install media, but also contains File Explorer, as well as additional tools such as a registry editor. It's freeware that I got from a torrent. The exact name is: windows 10 x64 6in1. What I would never do, is try to backup the data with a Linux distro. I'm just too paranoid that it will actually install to the C drive and wipe out the file system.