Use Linux Live CD to Rescue Windows MachinesBy
Working as a systems administrator in a Microsoft Windows environment eventually leads to encounters with the dreaded Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD). The BSOD occurs when something has corrupted some part of the Windows operating system, and the machine will not boot until the problem is fixed. This inability to boot into Windows can be caused by many things, but it always seems to lead to a reinstall of Windows for me. I have tried various tips online to “rescue” my Windows installation, but it always just delays the inevitable – a clean install.
That leads us to the problem of how to save all of the files on the corrupted drive. I have started using a Linux Live CD to allow me to boot into a BSOD machine and copy necessary files to an external hard drive. This allows for a clean format of the old drive and a fresh Windows installation. I have tried several (any live CD should work), but I have been using Ubuntu 9.04 with good success. The live CD doesn’t allow you to change files on the local hard drive, but it does allow copying. I have had no issues with the live Linux session recognizing the local hard drive and the Western Digital and Maxtor external drives that I typically use.
To create your own Linux live CD, go to the Ubuntu download site and download the software. You will then need to burn the image to a CD, and make sure that you make it a bootable CD. In order to boot up a machine, you may need to go into the bios settings to make the CD the primary boot device. Otherwise, the computer keeps trying to boot from the ailing hard drive and you get your BSOD again.
This only works if your physical drive is in good shape of course and Windows is just corrupted.
Do you have any tricks that you like to use to rescue Windows machines?