How do I prepare an emergency boot disc so I’m ready in case Windows becomes unbootable?
Paul Lopez, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Alas, the days when Windows came with a program for creating a useful emergency bootfloppy are long gone. And those old boot floppies wouldn’t help with XP orVista–even if you PC had a floppy drive.
Boot from one of the discsthat came with your PC, and examine the menus (don’t select anything that mightwipe your drive). You’re looking for emergency utilities.
You’re inreal luck if you have a full Windows XP CD or Vista DVD. These come with greattools for diagnosing and repairing an unbootable PC. In fact, if you don’t havea real Windows disc, find one you can borrow in an emergency. Don’t installWindows from a borrowed disc, but if it has the same version of Windows as yourPC, use its repair tools.
Boot from an XP CD, and pressR at the ‘Welcome to Setup’ screen to see the RecoveryConsole, a DOS-like command-line environment with a number of useful utilities.Consult ”
What to Do When XP or 2000 Won’t Boot” for additional details.
If you boot from a Vista DVD, click Repair yourcomputer to open the System Recover program. There you’ll findoptions to automatically fix boot problems, restore your hard drive from animage backup, diagnose memory, or perform a system restore.
If you’reready for a Windows alternative, try Puppy Linux, which you can download as aready-to-burn .iso file from
the Puppy Linux Web site. Boot from the CD, andyou’ll have a nongeek’s version of Linux running on your PC. Puppy Linux is thebest tool I’ve found for one extremely important job: copying important filesoff an unbootable hard drive. Unlike UBCD4Win, Puppy recognizes USB drives,making it extremely easy to put these files where you can readily accessthem.
Enter these commands in Windows XP’s Recovery Console to perform CPR on your disks and files.
|Command ||Action |
|Attrib ||Changes the attributes of a file or directory. |
|Batch ||Executes the commands specified in the text file. |
|Bootcfg ||Boot file (boot.ini) configuration and recovery. |
|ChDir (Cd) ||Displays the name of the current directory or changes the current directory. |
|Chkdsk ||Checks a disk and displays a status report. |
|Cls ||Clears the screen. |
|Copy ||Copies a single file to another location. |
|Delete (Del) ||Deletes one or more files. |
|Dir ||Displays a list of files and subdirectories in a directory. |
|Disable ||Disables a system service or a device driver. |
|Diskpart ||Manages partitions on your hard drives. |
|Enable ||Starts or enables a system service or a device driver. |
|Exit ||Exits the Recovery Console and restarts your computer. |
|Expand ||Extracts a file from a compressed file. |
|Extract||Extracts files from compressed .cab archives.|
|Fixboot ||Writes a new partition boot sector onto the specified partition. |
|Fixmbr ||Repairs the master boot record of the specified disk. |
|Format ||Formats a disk. |
|Help ||Displays a list of commands you can use in the Recovery Console. |
|Listsvc || Lists the services and drivers available on the computer. |
|Logon ||Logs on to a Windows installation. |
|Map ||Displays the drive letter mappings. |
|Mkdir (Md) ||Creates a directory. |
|More ||Displays a text file. |
|Net Use ||Connects a network share to a drive letter. |
|Rename (Ren) ||Renames a single file. |
|Rmdir (Rd) ||Deletes a directory. |
|Set ||Displays and sets environment variables. |
|Systemroot ||Sets the current directory to the systemroot directory of the system you are currently logged on to. |
|Type ||Displays a text file. |