A boot disk is a CD you can put in your drive and run without having to load Windows. There are a lot of uses for these disks, such as performing diagnostics, removing viruses, recovering lost data and partitioning drives. We have compiled a list of a few of our favorites. You should consider downloading and burning a couple of them, as they might help you save your data one day or at least help you figure out what the problem is with your machine. Some of these are actual operating systems and some of them are a collection of tools conveniently located on one CD. For techs, disks like these should be a standard in your tool bag.
Bootable Linux Distros
Live CDs are self-contained Operating System and that allow you to run a different Operating System directly from your CD drive. While this is not the fasted way to work, it gives you the opportunity to try Linux or do other tasks without having to worry about anything getting written to the disk. A couple of our favorites are Knoppix and Ubunto. If you are considering running Linux on your computer’s hard drive, these disks are a great way to test your hardware to make sure there are drivers available for everything before you go through the trouble of partitioning your hard drive and installing a full Linux distro.
Bootable Diagnostic CDs
You can also get disks that contain numerous diagnostic utilities that can help you test your computer’s memory, the partition table and other components that could prevent your computer from booting into Windows. The Ultimate Boot CD is a favorite of ours because it contains great utilities such as Memtest86 and DBan, which techs use all the time. There are dozens of other utilities on the disk and it is frequently updated. Another that was recommended to us was SystemRescueCD. This is similar to UBCD as it allows you to test your RAM, hard drive and perform other diagnostics.
If you plan on running any of these, you will need a CD Burner, blank disks and the ability to create .ISO files. If a burner came with your computer, you probably already have this ability. If you have any comments or suggestions about other bootable CDs, be sure to let us know by commenting below.