Each and every Windows user should have a rescue disc nearby, stored in a glass box that says: "Break if your computer breaks!". They are a very efficient way of troubleshooting the problems and issues your computer is having when it doesn't want to start, when it starts but it does so with lots of errors, or when it just stops with one of those "blue screens of death" which have almost become a trademark of Windows devices. In this roundup, we will share with you the five rescue discs that we consider very helpful when your Windows computer is no longer working as it should:
1. Hiren's BootCD
Hiren's BootCD is probably the most popular system rescue disc ever invented. Any system administrator or technical user can tell you that Hiren has saved their lives at least once. It's a rescue disc assembled especially for Windows computers and it includes every tool that you might need in order to make your computer operational again.
Hiren's BootCD includes:
- Anti-malware software for finding and cleaning viruses, rootkits, spyware, adware and other types of malicious programs
- Backup and image management tools for creating and restoring image files for partitions and hard drives
- Management tools for hard disks and partitions that allow you to create, delete, resize or analyze partitions
- Hardware analyzers and benchmarking tools that can detect failing hardware components from your computer
- BIOS flashing tools that you can use to update the BIOS on your computer's motherboard
- Password crackers that can help you get by a lost Windows password
These are just a few of the tools that you will find inside Hiren's BootCD. It has almost everything you might need in order to bring back to life an unresponsive Windows computer.
Download: Hiren's BootCD
2. Ultimate Boot CD
Ultimate Boot CD is another example of a system rescue live CD that should be found in every doomsday prepper's bag. Just like Hiren's BootCD, Ultimate Boot CD includes a plethora of tools designed to help you troubleshoot and rescue an unresponsive computer.
Ultimate Boot CD includes:
- Tools that will help you clear your computer's CMOS and make BIOS updates
- Hardware benchmarking apps that help you identify the components are likely to fail soon or are already defective
- Hard disk and partition management solutions
- Data recovery tools for getting back your files from damaged drives
- Boot repair tools
Download: Ultimate Boot CD
SystemRescueCd is obviously not trying to hide its purpose and it offers plenty of computer rescue tools. But unlike the previous two rescue discs we've mentioned, SystemRescueCd is designed with Linux users in mind. However Windows users can benefit from it too. This rescue disc is easy to use even if you never saw a Linux operating system before.
- File system tools for creating, resizing, moving and/or copying partitions of almost any type/format
- Data recovery tools for getting your lost data back from damaged drives
- Erasing tools that help you securely erase sensitive data that you don't want recovered
- Benchmarking tools for testing the hardware components
- Network utilities that allow you to access data from the network as well as testing other devices from your local network
- Anti-rootkit software that can search for rootkits installed on your system
Knoppix is a complete operating system that comes as a Linux Live CD. Besides the operating system's core files, Knoppix also includes additional software which you can use to rescue your broken Windows PC.
Knoppix can be customized to include various tools that you need and, by default, it includes:
- File recovery tools for getting back all those personal files you thought lost because of a defective hard drive
- Partitioning and (re)formatting tools that let you create, resize, format and/or delete partitions
- Backup tools that you can use to backup data to CD/DVDs or even on a network device
- Tools for resetting forgotten user passwords on a Linux or a Windows operating system
There's one thing about Knoppix that we need to emphasize: it is a very powerful rescue disc but it's also hard to master by a novice user. If you're not very technical and you have n't worked with Linux operating systems before, then you should check the other options we've shared in this roundup.
5. FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD
FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD is a heavily modified version of Hiren's Boot CD that includes more tools than Hiren. Hiren's Boot CD, and all the other rescue discs from this article, includes only free to use software. Unlike them, FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD also includes a series of commercial rescue tools.
FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD includes:
- Anti-malware tools for finding and cleaning viruses, rootkits, spyware, adware and other kinds of malware threats
- Backup tools for creating and restoring backups of your hard drives
- Partitioning tools that allow you to create, delete and/or resize partitions
- Benchmarking programs that can find defective hardware components from your system
- Tools for clearing the CMOS and flashing the BIOS of your computer's motherboard.
Download: FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD.
In troubled times, when your Windows computer doesn't want to do what you want it to do, system rescue discs are your best friends. They are to you what a Swiss army knife is to Bear Grylls. Whether you're a system admin, a novice or a technical user, your rescue kit should always contain at least one of the rescue discs we've mentioned in this article. Try them and let us know which one you prefer. If you know other good rescue discs, share them in the comments below.