HOWTO: Make a System Repair Disk, NOW!
When something goes horribly wrong with your hard drive, a system repair, recovery or rescue disk can get you back up and running. But there are several types, and vendors don't always provide these when you buy a new PC. If you don't have one handy for your Windows operating system, now is the time to make one. Read on to learn how...
An Ounce of Prevention...
If your Windows computer won't start normally from the hard drive, a system repair or recovery disk can usually fix the problem. Note that these disks cannot be used to install or re-install Windows. It's just a stripped down bootable Windows interface that can be used for recovery tasks such as Startup Repair, System Restore, and some other tools.
Startup Repair is an automated diagnostic and repair program that attempts to analyze and fix corrupted startup components on the specified drive. Choose it if your hard drive won't boot or Windows will not load.
System Restore returns your Windows installation to a state saved at an earlier date, called a System Restore Point. System Restore Points are automatically created at various times, and you can always create one manually. The idea is to roll back your system in time to a point where it was working normally. (See Fix Windows Problems With System Restore.)
Vista users (I know there are still plenty of you out there) must have Vista Service Pack 1 or higher installed. To create a System Repair Disc for Vista, click Start, then All Programs, then Maintenance, and finally Create A Recovery Disc. Just follow the utility’s instructions to create a bootable CD that includes repair tools.
It’s even easier in Windows 7. Click Start and type “system repair disc” in the search box. The first search result will be “Create a System Repair Disc.” Click to run it.
Windows 8.1 contains a utility to create a USB system recovery drive. To create a USB recovery drive, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
Enter “recovery drive” in the search box, and then tap or click Create a recovery drive. After the recovery drive tool opens, make sure the “Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive” check box is selected, and then tap or click Next. Insert a USB flash drive into your PC that is at least as large as the size indicated on the screen. Tap or click the USB drive you would like to use for your recovery drive, then tap or click Next. Tap or click Create.
The recovery image and necessary recovery tools will be copied to your USB flash drive, which will take a while, depending on your PC and the size of the recovery image. If you want to remove the recovery partition from your PC and free up disk space, tap or click Delete the recovery partition. Then tap or click Delete. This will free up the disk space used to store your recovery image. When the removal is done, tap or click Finish, and remove the USB flash drive.
A Pound of Cure
A repair/recovery disc finds and fixes problems with file systems, disk sectors, and so on. But sometimes the problem isn't a messed up master boot record, a scrambled partition table, or an unworkable system configuration. If you suspect a virus may be lurking on your hard drive, there's another kind of rescue disk that will help in situations where the computer won't start normally. This type detects malware that may be causing your computer to not boot.
I recommend that you create a Windows Defender Offline disc, a bootable disc with the Windows Defender virus-detection software installed on it. Creating such a disc is part of the installation of Windows Defender discussed in my article on Windows Defender Offline.
Third-party antivirus software often includes a feature to create a bootable removable disc that can be used to start up and clean your machine when its normal boot drive is infected with something. AVG Rescue Disc image and Kaspersky Labs Rescue Disc are ready-to-burn image files that you can download free of charge, burn to CD, and keep in a safe place until needed.
Once you have created either type of disc, you can insert it in your computer's CD drive and restart the computer. If your computer's BIOS is configured to boot from the CD drive should the hard drive not be available, then it will do so. If not, you may have to manually tell the BIOS to boot from CD. That's an option on the BIOS Setup menu, which you can reach by holding down the Ctrl key while booting your PC. There, you should be able to set the CD as the primary boot device, or at least ensure it is in the set of devices that the BIOS checks during bootup.
Keep your recovery disc and your anti-malware disc in a safe place. You never know when you or a friend may need it. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Mar 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- HOWTO: Make a System Repair Disk, NOW! (Posted: 11 Mar 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved