When your computer starts behaving strangely or won’t boot, a rescue disc is the ideal way to troubleshoot the issue and see if you can isolate the problem. There are plenty of great system rescue discs available if you need a tool to save your ailing system. This week we’re looking at five of the best, nominated by our readers.
Photo by Karin Dalziel
Hiren’s BootCD is a legendary rescue tool; anyone who has ever worked in support or systems administration has probably used it at least once. The rescue disc is aimed squarely at repairing Windows systems, and includes antivirus tools to scan your hard drive, anti-malware utilities to clean out spyware and adware, and rootkit detection tools. Hiren’s BootCD can also help you repair, adjust, or re-flash your system’s BIOS or wipe your CMOS, clean out temporary files and folders, securely erase files, back up your data to another hard drive or to the network, update and back up hardware drivers, scan your system for hardware failures, and repair lost or damaged partitions.
Knoppix is a bootable Linux live CD that gives you a fully functional operating system once booted. Unlike some of the other tools featured here, Knoppix is a whole OS — not just a customised interface to give you access to diagnostic and repair tools. It includes a web browser (Firefox), Open Office, GIMP and many other tools. Knoppix’s greatest benefit is its flexibility; you can download it and build your own installation featuring the troubleshooting tools you use most often, package it up, and then burn it to a CD or DVD. If you’re a developer, the DVD version of Knoppix has even more extras for you.
The aptly named System Rescue CD is a Linux-based rescue disk designed to troubleshoot Linux and Windows systems and servers. The disk is packed with tools to help you manage and repair partitions and back up your data or clone your drives in case of a failure. It supports a wide range of file systems (including network file systems such as NFS), so you can work with just about any file on any drive anywhere. The disc also comes with replacement bootloaders, system file editors, network troubleshooting and diagnostic tools and disc burning software. There are also antivirus, anti-malware and rootkit detection and removal tools. It’s completely free.
Honourable mentions this week go to Parted Magic, which a number of you nominated to handle MBR and partition problems in Windows and Linux, and to Puppy Linux, which has some great troubleshooting tools to resuscitate your computer if something goes terribly wrong.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Tell us and tell us why in the comments.