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 boot
floppy are long gone. And those old boot floppies wouldn’t help with XP or
Vista–even if you PC had a floppy drive.
Boot from one of the discs
that came with your PC, and examine the menus (don’t select anything that might
wipe your drive). You’re looking for emergency utilities.
real luck if you have a full Windows XP CD or Vista DVD. These come with great
tools for diagnosing and repairing an unbootable PC. In fact, if you don’t have
a real Windows disc, find one you can borrow in an emergency. Don’t install
Windows from a borrowed disc, but if it has the same version of Windows as your
PC, use its repair tools.
Boot from an XP CD, and press
R at the ‘Welcome to Setup’ screen to see the Recovery
Console, 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 your
computer to open the System Recover program. There you’ll find
options to automatically fix boot problems, restore your hard drive from an
image backup, diagnose memory, or perform a system restore.
ready for a Windows alternative, try Puppy Linux, which you can download as a
ready-to-burn .iso file from
the Puppy Linux Web site. Boot from the CD, and
you’ll have a nongeek’s version of Linux running on your PC. Puppy Linux is the
best tool I’ve found for one extremely important job: copying important files
off an unbootable hard drive. Unlike UBCD4Win, Puppy recognizes USB drives,
making it extremely easy to put these files where you can readily access
Enter these commands in Windows XP’s Recovery Console to perform CPR on your disks and files.
||Changes the attributes of a file or directory.
||Executes the commands specified in the text file.
||Boot file (boot.ini) configuration and recovery.
||Displays the name of the current directory or changes the current directory.
||Checks a disk and displays a status report.
||Clears the screen.
||Copies a single file to another location.
||Deletes one or more files.
||Displays a list of files and subdirectories in a directory.
||Disables a system service or a device driver.
||Manages partitions on your hard drives.
||Starts or enables a system service or a device driver.
||Exits the Recovery Console and restarts your computer.
||Extracts a file from a compressed file.
|Extract||Extracts files from compressed .cab archives.|
||Writes a new partition boot sector onto the specified partition.
||Repairs the master boot record of the specified disk.
||Formats a disk.
||Displays a list of commands you can use in the Recovery Console.
Lists the services and drivers available on the computer.
||Logs on to a Windows installation.
||Displays the drive letter mappings.
||Creates a directory.
||Displays a text file.
||Connects a network share to a drive letter.
||Renames a single file.
||Deletes a directory.
||Displays and sets environment variables.
||Sets the current directory to the systemroot directory of the system you are currently logged on to.
||Displays a text file.