Bootable CD to the rescue!

July 9, 2007


A couple of weeks ago I had some hard drive issues with a clients PC which stored the majority of their business data. Although backup was performed the night before, the hard drive failure occurred later on the next day. So it was essential to recover the days work from the failing hard drive. In this post I will mention a couple of strategies and tools that could aid the recovery of the data from the failing hard drive. It is also worth noting that a couple of these tools can help with lost passwords, boot up issues, spyware and viruses.

Don’t boot up!

Whenever face with a problem like this, you must avoid booting up your operating system (Windows, OSX etc) as extra disk activity will more than likely cause more damage to the hard drive. A bootable recovery CD will run a mini operating system which

Decision Time

You have two choices when it comes to recovering your data and fixing the machine. If your machine still manages to boot into the operating system you should try taking a complete snap shot of the failing hard drive onto a new hard drive. Swap the failing drive with the drive you just copied the files too and fingers crossed the Operating System will automatically repair itself, backup!

If your machine isn’t booting then you need to copy the files to a secondary drive (internal or external USB drive), insert a new hard drive, re-install the operating system, applications and data from fresh.

Shopping List

  • External USB Hard Drive
  • New hard drive
  • Operating System CD/DVD
  • Driver Disks
  • Applications
  • Recovery software
  • Blank CD’s
  • Time, luck and patience!



The important bit, Recovery Software

One CD all Windows/Linux people should have handy is the Ultimate Boot CD. This CD is packed with tools that can save your bacon and it’s free! The website has an extensive list on all these tools, but here are my recommendations…

  • HDClone – For copying the entire contents of the drive to a new hard drive, HDClone has a fairly easy interface and will continue to work even if there are errors existing on the hard drive.
  • G4U – Command line interface with options to recover data to a network resource such as FTP server, G4U can also be downloaded separately onto a floppy disk
  • Ranish Partition Manager – Copy, resize and edit disk partitions
  • Cute Partition Manager – Same as above
  • NDN – File recovery and editor

You can also check out UBCD which has a handful of useful tools such as…

  • Spyware
    • Ad Aware
    • Spy Bot
    • CWShredder
    • Hijack This
  • Virus removal
    • McAfee Stinger
    • ClamWin
  • Firefox, Notepage, PDF Viewer, Zip etc

Another windows recovery CD is BartPE which I’ve used successfully in the past to recover a Window Server machine. Both disks do require a copy of Windows CD and little bit of configuring, but if you have a spare hour, get one built ready for an emergency.

Apple People

The Ultimate Bootable CD might work with latest Intel Apple Macs, other wise check out the websites below…

Bootable Mac CD

How to create a bootable CD in Mac OS X 

How to Make a Bootable Emergency CD

Carbon Copy Clone

Professional Data Recovery Mac Utility

Remember, always Backup, Backup, Backup and Backup!


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Author: Support @ 6:10 am

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