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Keep This Bootable CD Handy For Troubleshooting

When you're regarded as the resident PC troubleshooter for friends, family and colleagues, it's important to have a good selection of tools to hand for when you need to sort out someone's computer and retain your reputation.  And assuming that the PC is sufficiently OK to be bootable and to have internet access, this is generally pretty easy.  Just download what you need.  Or, if things are looking bad, you can at least copy any important files off the computer via the network.

But what if the Windows installation is so corrupted that the machine won't even boot?  You can reinstall Windows, of course, but by the time you've also reinstalled all the applications too, it's a task that will take a long time.  

One of the best ways to diagnose and examine an unbootable PC is to use a bootable rescue disk (normally a CD, DVD or a USB stick).  Booting from the rescue disk gives you a usable, albeit minimal, operating system from which you can check out the problem.  

One really useful such tool is the Ultimate Boot CD from FalconFour.  It comes in the form of a downloadable file in 7Zip format.  You'll need to extract it, and then burn it to either a CD or DVD.  Then just reboot the PC from that disk, and you'll have a basic operating system pre-installed with dozens of tools to help check out the machine.  Assuming the hard disk is readable, and it's only Windows that's broken, you can copy data from the broken machine over the network (there are drivers for wired and wireless networks included), and also access the web via a portable copy of Firefox that's also present.  There are also loads of other useful programs installed to help troubleshoot the computer, none of which write to the hard disk so it's perfectly safe.

FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD is a rather large 670 MB download from http://falconfour.wordpress.com/tag/f4ubcd/ (follow the link to the v4.61 download).  It's a safe site, according to Web of Trust, and my own antivirus software suggests it's safe.  VirusTotal was unable to scan it because of its large size.

Definitely one to download, burn to CD or DVD, and keep safe for when it might be needed in the future.  And of course it's totally free of charge.

Note: This disc won't work on Windows 8 PCs, because of the different hard disk format used.

 

 

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Comments

by JM on 12. April 2014 - 13:53  (115651)

Anybody else having trouble downloading it?

i went to get the latest version just now....asked me to install Mega addon for firefox, which i did....started the downlaod, strangely it didn't ask me where to save, but it seemed to be coming down really quickly......but then got stuck/ constantly teasing/ fluctuating between 97 and 99%....had to just cancel it as it been like for abt an hour....

by sicknero on 14. April 2014 - 17:51  (115696)

If you scroll about halfway down the Wordpress page, there's a link to a torrent file. I used that myself, it's well seeded and very fast but you also need to grab the 4.61 update patch - there's a direct download link for that at the top of the Wordpress page. That patch is only about 3mb but has no instructions ... you just need to run the exe and it will tell you what to do.

by Festeron on 4. March 2014 - 12:14  (114772)

What is the "different hard disk format" of Windows 8, such that this utility won't work?

by wildweaselkeeper on 1. March 2014 - 21:00  (114733)

Anyone know how FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD compares with another one of the same name, (but not FalconFour's) found on this site: http://www.ultimatebootcd.com? Also found on SourceForge: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ubcd/?source=navbar and also listed on Softpedia (as a Pick): http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Back-Up-and-Recovery/Ultimate-Boot-C....

Just wondering if anyone is familiar with both? I will download both, when I have time, and see what differences there might be.

Thank You! In advance to anyone who may know about this.

Thank you Rob, for this post.

by sicknero on 2. March 2014 - 10:46  (114740)

Ultimate Boot CD is completely made up of freeware except for the ASTRA 14 day demo, whereas the FalconFour one has a fair amount of commercial software on it, some of which is very old. The version of Hiren's Boot CD which is incorporated into it is an older version (13 or 14 I think), from before Hiren removed all the commercial stuff.

They're both good ... FalconFour has more on it so is tempting from that point of view but Ultimate is better if you want to stick with freeware.

by HA on 18. February 2014 - 6:12  (114519)

I downloaded it and can't find it.
My default download spot is to my desktop, but it's not there or in the downloads folder.
Tried again, and this time a "save as" box came up. Yay.

by rdods on 17. February 2014 - 23:12  (114512)

This looks like a great tool, but as soon as I burnt the CD, I got an AVG pop-up warning me of a Trojan Crypt2.CKQD in the file HBCD\wintools\easyuha.exe

Is this a false positive?

Thanks!

by wildweaselkeeper on 1. March 2014 - 20:48  (114732)

Any time you have a tool like this with the collection of utilities it has you are going to get to get false positives. I've been using Nirsoft (NirSofer) utilities for many years and used to quite often get false positives with some of their utilities. I been using NirLauncher for a couple years now (something like that), also known as the Nirsoft or NirSofer Package, and if you scan it with just about anything like VirusTotal you will get false positives with it because of the utilities it contains.

by sicknero on 18. February 2014 - 10:58  (114525)

I downloaded EasyUHA separately from Hiren's site (http://www.hiren.info/downloads/freeware-tools/easyuha), it (and its companion file uharc.exe) both scan clean with MBAM, Comodo AV and Emsisoft.

On Virus Total, EasyUHA.exe scores 2/50 (https://www.virustotal.com/en-gb/file/213ae6fc4b62333697002c7f69178742a3...) and uharc.exe scores 1/50 (https://www.virustotal.com/en-gb/file/f0a425fc7159c0311fcf32a03c80e24f40...)

What AV do you use? I noticed that AVG is one of the AVs that red-flags EasyUHA on VT (labels it with the trojan name that you mention). It's possible that AVG just dislikes the way that UHA works as a packer/unpacker, there might be more info on the AVG forums.

(*Edit; Sorry, I just noticed that you do actually say AVG :))

by rdods on 18. February 2014 - 15:57  (114528)

Thanks! Will check out the AVG forums.

by MikeR on 17. February 2014 - 19:57  (114510)

Just a quickie. I've a relative who isn't a geek by any means, but could definitely make use of this super find by Rob. The only thing is, having now tipped him off to Rob's article, my cousin has come back to me to say that somewhere on the F4UBCD website is a caveat with words to the effect, **don't download this** if you don't know anything about torrents.

He doesn't. Is there a link I can point him to for a quick crash course (doh: unfortunate phrase) because I really don't want to have to spend time, emailing him not only about rescue CDs but also about how-to-work-with-torrents??????

by Rick Grunwald on 17. February 2014 - 21:11  (114511)

Have him install Utorrent
http://www.utorrent.com/downloads/win_us
and then read the FAQ
http://www.utorrent.com/help/faq
then
http://www.utorrent.com/help/guides/beginners-guide
and if he needs to understand terms
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_BitTorrent_terms

or you could just put yours in the cloud for him but if he wants to learn to use torrent ....

by vandamme on 17. February 2014 - 17:33  (114507)

I like Rescatux because it's a small download, yet contains a complete operating system. I use it to restore bootloaders and erase windows passwords.

http://www.supergrubdisk.org/rescatux/

by BearPup on 17. February 2014 - 14:14  (114503)

I use another CD recovery program, BootMed, which has both a 64 bit and a 32 bit version. It too is a long download, but its well worth your time. When burned to a blank CD it can be used to clean up an infected PC by booting into a Linux derivative that is flanked by two antivirus applications, Firefox, partitioning software and disk testing software. Go to www.bootmed.com for more information (make sure you select / download the free version, which is amply capable of fixing your PC).

by Rick Grunwald on 17. February 2014 - 10:59  (114498)

There doesn't seem to be any that work with Windows 8 /8.1. If anyone knows of any, please post. Yes I know you can create your own withing Win 8 but it is fairly useless as it only has the fix or reset your system. Sometimes you don't need the big AXE to fix something
Thankd
Rick

by eikelein on 17. February 2014 - 14:19  (114504)

Windows 8 runs on some firmware called UEFI (look it up on Wikipedia). That does not allow booting from CD/DVD unless written by the same system.

Some systems allow UEFI to be turned off; then you can run "old" BIOS and start from CD/DVD.

I had an ASUS laptop recently whose UEFI did not allow to be switched back to BIOS so we could absolutely not boot it from a DVD, not even a legitimate Win7 install disk.

by Juxxize on 16. February 2014 - 8:47  (114490)

Great stuff I just bought my self a pack of CD's so I could burn some rescue disks and this shall be one of them .

by Burn-IT on 15. February 2014 - 14:03  (114486)

I think that you will find that the Mini Windows that is on these CDs is only legal IF you already have a license for the version on the machine you are using the CD on.
This has always been a problem, ever since Bart first started the concept.
That is why with products like the UBCD4WIN you have to build the CD yourself from your own installed Windows.

Not to say that it isn't a useful tool.

by Juxxize on 16. February 2014 - 16:50  (114491)

so in other words much sure you have your license key wrote down somewhere

by Burn-IT on 16. February 2014 - 17:07  (114492)

I haven't heard of MS chasing any individuals over it yet, but they have warned technical support forums about recommending them. Have you every tried to get hold of a free "legal" Recovery Console CD?. Legal downloads of XP with SP3 (just the media) no longer exist.

by Chilli on 14. February 2014 - 22:27  (114476)

I am not going to install this on a CD. Heck no. I never use them. Install to a USB. Use YUMI 2.0

They recently put Falcon 4 Finally on YUMI 2.0 however, they still need to add a download / homepage link. But download it and point YUMI to it.

YUMI is a free Multiboot USB Creator. You can put Linux distros, Hiren's Boot CD, Falcon and tons of other tools and distros all on one multiboot USB drive. It's one of my favorite tools.

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/

by sicknero on 15. February 2014 - 13:03  (114485)

X-boot (https://sites.google.com/site/shamurxboot/) is also very good, it does pretty much the same thing.

The only issue with this and with Yumi is that not all bootable CD/DVDs work properly from USB ... for instance MiniXP fails to load up the installed list of Hiren's tools from USB (this is a known issue discussed on the forums) and some Linux distros won't boot at all in my experience, although to be fair I often have the same problem running Linux from CD as well.. It takes a bit of trial and error to discover what software will run happily from USB and what won't.

by nunomegas on 14. February 2014 - 8:33  (114470)

Is it better than Hiren's Boot CD?

by Jorpho on 14. February 2014 - 17:15  (114474)

Hiren's Boot CD still contains hefty quantities of copyrighted software, doesn't it?

A better comparison might be SystemRescueCD. How does that compare?

by sicknero on 14. February 2014 - 18:34  (114475)

No, Hiren's Boot CD hasn't had that software on it for the last couple of versions at least.

I've not had a proper look at this one yet but I think it contains a lot of the same freeware/shareware as Hiren's plus some extras such as Nirsoft and a "heavily modified" version of Hiren's MiniXP whatever that means.

System Rescue CD is I think quite sparse compared to these two although I tend to keep a copy of both handy.

Thinking about it though I don't know what the position is with MiniXP ... Hiren's removed all the previous commercial software to stay within the law but still has MiniXP on it.

by Jorpho on 17. February 2014 - 17:47  (114508)

I have the impression that the Hiren developers justify its inclusion by asking people not to use it if they don't have a valid license. I can't imagine that it's within the law; otherwise everyone would be doing it (instead of relying on the preboot environment).

by James Glidewell on 13. February 2014 - 22:44  (114465)

No zip found ... just a small torrent file + a larger update patch ... Still safe?

by sicknero on 13. February 2014 - 22:59  (114466)

For what it's worth I just finished downloading the torrent (it's well seeded, only took about 30 minutes here) and it all scans clean with Comodo AV and MBAM. Ditto the patch file.

The nature of the software on the actual bootdisk though means that it is quite likely to trigger false alerts, e.g. the Nirsoft Suite is included.

by sicknero on 13. February 2014 - 21:46  (114463)

I always have a couple of bootable disks such as this handy for emergencies. I never understood though why AV progs are included as surely their databases are out of date as soon as the disk is burned and the latest version of F4 is several months old already.

I do like this from the F4UBCD list of features ...

"- Shiny graphics that make the room smell nicer."

:-)