Your November 2003 column [“What to Do When XP or 2000 Won’t Boot“] told how to make emergency boot floppies. What if your PC has no floppy drive?
Karl Whisennand, via the Internet
An emergency boot CD will, like the floppy I described, get Windows running if your hard drive’s boot sector or Windows’ boot files are corrupted. This solution requires Gilles Vollant’s WinImage, a $30 program that has a 30-day free trial period.
Once you have WinImage installed, open Windows Explorer and select Tools, Folder Options, View, Show hidden files and folders. Uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended), click Yes, and then click Apply. Leave the Folder Options dialog box open, start WinImage, select File, New, 1.44 MB, and click OK. Choose Image, Boot sector properties, select the WinNT/2K/XP button, and click OK.
Now choose Image, Inject and navigate to your C: drive. Hold down the <Ctrl> key as you select the files boot.ini, NTDETECT.COM, and ntldr (the extensions may not be visible; see FIGURE 1Figure 1: Place the image of a boot floppy on an emergency boot CD by using the WinImage utility.). Click Open and then Yes. Select File, Save and name the file boot files. In the ‘Save as type’ drop-down menu, select Image file (*.IMA). Click Save.
Close WinImage and return to the Folder Options dialog box. Recheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended); you may also select Do not show hidden files and folders. Click OK.
Now create a bootable CD that employs an image file instead of an actual floppy. Point your CD authoring program to the image file boot files.ima that you just created, and then burn the CD.
Grab Drivers Off Your PC
Is it possible for me to back up all of the device drivers on my computer to a CD?
Alex Garcia, Miami
I’ve prepared a batch file that copies most (if not all) of your driver files. Click here to download driverback.bat. Once it’s on your system, double-click the file to create your backup.
The batch file copies the drivers (and a lot of extra files) to a folder called ‘driverback’ inside My Documents. Use your CD authoring software to copy the contents of this folder to a CD.
To reinstall drivers, use either Device Manager or Control Panel’s Add Hardware applet to open the Hardware Update Wizard. If the wizard doesn’t automatically look for drivers on the CD, point to the CD drive when asked for a location.
Protect Files and Folders
What’s the most effective way to password-protect my important files and folders?
Jomon Varghese, South Kalamassery, Kerala, India
The encrypted File System in Windows 2000 and XP Pro makes files accessible only when you log on to the computer with the same user ID you used when encrypting the folder. Unfortunately, EFS is so tightly integrated into the file system–and so transparent to use–that a simple mistake can render your data accessible to others or inaccessible to you.
I prefer to use encrypted “safes” that open and close at my command. When closed, a safe is just a large file filled with gobbledygook. But when you run your decryption program and enter your password, Windows sees it as another drive–perfectly readable and writable.
Cypherix’s free Cryptainer LE
creates virtual drives up to 25MB. The $45 Cryptainer PE version supports drives up to 25GB and uses stronger AES encryption in place of LE’s Blowfish.
Don’t Take a Windows Slow-Up Sitting Down
When you click an icon to launch a program, you may have to wait as Windows talks to the hard drive, swaps other programs out of RAM, and finally begins to open the new window. Then you wait some more as the program itself loads. Rather than sitting there drumming your fingers on the keyboard–or screaming at an inanimate object–use those precious few seconds to your advantage. Get up. Stretch. Look far away. Do a few jumping jacks (just watch out for ceiling fans). Sitting at a computer all day is not healthy. When Windows forces you to take a short break, make the most of it.