RES­CUE ANY PC

Maximum PC - - FRONT PAGE - –ALEX COX *

Res­ur­rect your rig with this pow­er­ful tool­kit

YOU’LL NEED THIS

UL­TI­MATE BOOT CD

5.3.7 Down­load the free soft­ware from www.ul­ti­mate­bootcd.com.

USB STICK This needs a min­i­mum

ca­pac­ity of 1GB.

THERE’S NOTH­ING WORSE than a ma­chine that seems to have given up the ghost. Win­dows re­fuses to boot. Your pre­cious files are locked away. And, with­out proper di­ag­nos­tic tools, you can’t quite fig­ure out what’s wrong with the thing, let alone nurse it back to health. That’s where Ul­ti­mate Boot CD (hence­forth UBCD) comes in. Cob­bled to­gether over the course of some 15 years, UBCD is a bootable col­lec­tion of the best free­ware tools for all kinds of res­cue tasks. You don’t need to run it from a disc—it’s happy enough to run from USB if you’ve long ago cast off the shack­les of op­ti­cal me­dia—and it can do just about any­thing you need, from cloning or se­lec­tively copy­ing from dy­ing drives to check­ing in­di­vid­ual hard­ware com­po­nents to de­ter­mine just what’s gone wrong with your ail­ing hard­ware. While it’s been kept up to date as much as pos­si­ble, it’s worth bear­ing in mind that many of the tools and driv­ers in UBCD are geared to­ward older hard­ware, so it’s best used to bring life to those long-for­got­ten lap­tops; if you’re res­ur­rect­ing a more mod­ern Win­dows 10 ma­chine, try Mi­crosoft’s own res­cue tools first.

1 PRE­PARE ME­DIA Log­i­cal first step time: In or­der to use the Ul­ti­mate Boot CD, you need to be able to boot from it. Use a work­ing com­puter to grab the UBCD ISO via one of the mir­rors on www.ul­ti­mate­bootcd.com (or use the tor­rent, if you’re feel­ing con­sci­en­tious to­ward the band­width bills of vol­un­teers), and find ei­ther a USB stick with at least 1GB ca­pac­ity, or a blank CD or DVD if you’re go­ing the op­ti­cal route. Burn the ISO as you would any other—if you don’t have the soft­ware, use CDBurnerXP from www.cdburnerxp.se— or write it to USB us­ing Ru­fus ( http://ru­fus.akeo.ie). Make sure you for­mat your USB me­dia us­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate op­tion.

2 BOOT FROM IT

Plug in or insert your me­dia into your tar­get ma­chine, and boot from it ei­ther by set­ting the boot pri­or­ity in the BIOS, or by in­vok­ing its boot me­dia menu. One tiny pre­req­ui­site: If your BIOS is some­how hosed, you may not be able to se­lect the ap­pro­pri­ate me­dia man­u­ally. You could be out of luck if this is the case—al­though UBCD can help re­trieve lost BIOS pass­words— but search on­line for any se­cret key com­bi­na­tions your hard­ware man­u­fac­turer might have slipped in, be­cause there’s of­ten a way to force a USB or op­ti­cal boot by hold­ing down a mod­i­fier on power on.

3 CHECK YOUR COM­PO­NENTS

The main UBCD menu [ Im­age A] is bro­ken up, use­fully, by cat­e­gory. Un­less you hear that tell­tale click­ing that means your hard drive is about to breathe its last, it’s prob­a­bly a good idea to give your hard­ware a quick once-over first of all. The “CPU” menu gives you a chance to test the sta­bil­ity of your pro­ces­sor with a num­ber of stress tests and chal­leng­ing bench­marks—and if you want a re­al­is­tic view of your ma­chine’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties with­out the Win­dows over­head, bench­mark­ing from UBCD is about as close to work­ing on bare me­tal as you can get. In the

“Mem­ory” sec­tion, run the fail­ure-de­tect­ing Memtest86+ 5.01 [ Im­age B] to com­pre­hen­sively test ev­ery byte of your RAM. And if you don’t know what you’re work­ing with, a trip to the “Sys­tem” menu and the Hard­ware De­tec­tion Tool [ Im­age C] will re­veal all about your sys­tem.

4 DRIVE TOOLS

UBCD’s area of spe­cial­iza­tion is its drive tools, and you’ll find a whole host in the “HDD” sub­menu. Prob­lem is, many of th­ese are a lit­tle ar­chaic and spe­cific—while there’s a long list, it’s mostly one col­lated from drive man­u­fac­tur­ers through the ages. Dig around and you may find the right tool for your hard­ware, ei­ther to test it or po­ten­tially re­cover it, and it’s worth check­ing out EaseUS Disk Copy (in “HDD/Disk Cloning”) and the slight­ly­hob­bled free ver­sion of HDClone (same menu) for their max­i­mum hard­ware com­pat­i­bil­ity and graph­i­cal in­ter­faces [ Im­age D]. But for all UBCD’s in­di­vid­ual tools, you may be bet­ter served go­ing with the ex­pert choice: Parted Magic. The ver­sion in­cluded with UBCD is the fi­nal free edi­tion of Parted Magic—the tool jumped to a paid­for pro­gram in 2013—but it’s per­fectly ad­e­quate for backup and re­cov­ery pur­poses.

5 DRIVE AC­CESS

Fire up Parted Magic from the main menu—just se­lect the de­fault “Run from RAM” op­tion—and you’ll reach a Linux desk­top packed with tools. The File Man­ager should be your first port of call; find your mis­be­hav­ing hard drive on the left, right-click it, and se­lect “Re/mount.” Add the op­tion “ro” to the end of the list [ Im­age E] in or­der to mount the drive as read-only, be­cause pre­sum­ably we’re not here to break any­thing, and a Win­dows in­stall that’s not play­ing nice likely won’t have shut down prop­erly. You should now be able to dig around in your files; plug in and mount a USB drive, and you’ll be able to copy them over.

6 CLONE AND CLEAN

Linux app Clonezilla is a great tool for swap­ping out drives—you can, as its name sug­gests, ex­actly clone the con­tents of one drive to another. It’s on the Parted Magic desk­top as “Disk Cloning.” With no drives mounted, fire it up, choose whether you want to back up to an im­age file or do a bit-to-bit copy of a drive, se­lect “lo­cal_ dev” on the next screen, plug in your USB drive, and you should be away. Of course, back­ing up a drive that’s fail­ing not be­cause of hard­ware but be­cause of some in­sid­i­ous in­fes­ta­tion is ask­ing for trou­ble. ClamAV—launched via the “Virus Scan­ner” short­cut on the Parted Magic desk­top— au­to­mat­i­cally down­loads the lat­est virus def­i­ni­tion files and, pro­vided you’ve mounted your tar­get drive with read/ write ac­cess (see “Pass­word Panic” be­low to find out how), it’ll at­tempt to clean up your mucky disk [ Im­age F]. Run it be­fore you clone for some peace of mind—or af­ter, if you don’t think your plat­ter will last that long....

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