Many administrators prepare and keep on hand several disaster recovery tools in the event that a system cannot boot normally.
These tools could be something as simple as the Windows installation CD itself, which has the Recovery Console and can perform basic maintenance. Independent programmers have also created utilities that fit onto floppy disks, which can be booted and used for system recovery.
However, the tools on the Windows installation CD are limited in scope and variety, and there isn't much that can be squeezed onto a single 3.5-inch floppy. The new solution: Custom-built boot CDs crammed to the rim with freeware recovery and repair utilities.
One of the newest of these tools is the remarkable Ultimate Boot CD for Windows (or "UBCD4Win"). In fact, it's doubly remarkable because it doesn't run in DOS mode. It runs as a version of Windows, directly from the CD-ROM, and installs nothing on the host computer.
More than 50 freeware utilities are bundled on the UBCD, include two CD-burning applications for creating CDs from within the UBCD environment; disk- and partition-management and copying tools; defragmentation utilities (including DIRMS,); disk hardware diagnostics (including S.M.A.R.T.-reporting tools); compression/decompression apps; recovery/repair tools for various applications, including Outlook Express; spyware/adware/virus scanners/removers; network utilities (FTP, VNC, network scanners); CMOS management tools (including password recovery), and more. Utilities are continually added.
There are three caveats.
- The user himself must provide a licensed copy of Windows XP. This does not simply mean having a Windows XP CD lying around, but one with a spare license for it as well.
- Since using the UBCD4Win counts as creating a separate installation of Windows, the end user must have a license for it.
- The process for creating the CD isn't fully automated -- there's no single ISO image one can download. The user has to merge files from the XP installation CD with the UBCD's build files, but there's a tool for automating this part of the procedure. (Once the CD is built, of course, it can be imaged and re-used as needed with proper licensing.)
The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows can be found at http://www.ubcd4win.com/index.htm.
10 tips in 10 minutes: Disaster Recovery
Tip 1: Automated System Recovery remedies corrupted registry
Tip 2: Ultimate boot CD packs in recovery, repair utilities
Tip 3: Disk imaging for disaster recovery
Tip 4: Recovery programs fix OS mistakes
Tip 5: WinXP and Windows Server 2003 volume shadow copy service
Tip 6: Restore and recover with Windows 2000
Tip 7: Disaster recovery for SBS
Tip 8: Best Practices: Desktop disaster recovery
Tip 9: Bare metal restore via Automated System Recovery
Tip 10: What to do when your hard drive fails
The top 10 tips of 2005
Tip #1: How to change the Windows XP Product Activation Key Code
Tip #2: Create a bootable USB flash drive -- in a flash!
Tip #3: Create a bootable Windows Server 2003 CD
Tip #4: 8 common causes for 'delayed write failed' errors
Tip #5: Ultimate boot CD packs in recovery, repair utilities
Tip #6: Install Windows Server 2003 silently
Tip #7: Uninstall 'stubborn' programs
Tip #8: What to do when your hard drive fails
Tip #9: Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 volume shadow copy service
Tip #10: 'Unlocker' reveals processes that lock files
Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- please share your thoughts as well!