A friend of mine has a laptop, that sometimes when trying to boot up happens to have a kernel panic. The problem is, that it has been happening to her and she returned the laptop a while ago to be repaired by producer. It helped for a couple of weeks, but now it is back. Laptop also randomly hangs when trying to backup files to external drive. And lastly, sometimes it fails to display any text or images, just after going through bios hangs on the black screen with white rectangles, looks like "blurred" console output.
The drive cannot be formatted until everything is backed up. I don't have option of changing drive to another one to check, whether it will happen with another drive. My idea is to prepare usb stick with live ubuntu and try to copy all the files that way. If it will hang on copying and fail to boot up, it should mean hardware failure, if not probably software fault. Linux is either way going to be removed and windows will be installed.
Do You maybe have any other, easier or better ideas on how to fix it?

Photo of panic after boot up

  • I recommend plugging the disk into another machine to back it up. There's way less risk of data errors or electrical problems killing the disk this way. Nov 3, 2015 at 21:06

2 Answers 2


Take out the disk and plug it into another machine. If the disk is faulty, this can't make the problem worse. If the disk isn't faulty but some other component is, that other component could prevent or corrupt your backups if you try to do them on the original machine.

If the disk is faulty, use ddrescue to copy its data. Run it as many times as necessary until it's copied everything or given up some parts as repeatedly unreadable. If the disk conks out during the copy, try giving it a rest for a few minutes then starting again. A USB adapter with a power switch is convenient for this.

You can try different kernels in case the problem is a driver bug or a firmware bug that can be worked around. If the problem is defective hardware, you can't fix that in software. Do run a memory test (Ubuntu offers it in its boot menu); if it returns any error, replace the RAM, and beware that your data is probably already corrupt.


If possible, try booting with a live media usb, if that kernel panics/fails too (or, as you say you're going to use Windows, if windows fails too) it's the Laptop. If not, it's more likely the HDD or the Linux installation, then you could either wipe (after backing up) and reinstall or replace the HDD. If it's not the HDD you can easily move it to another computer and try it there instead.

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