Besides a bootable floppy disk, a bootable CD-ROM can be of great help in certain situations. Especially if you don't have a floppy drive, you have to rely on a bootable CD-ROM to be able to fix some problems. Depending on what task you want to achieve, you need a different bootable CD-ROM. This page provides you the rough information what bootable CD-ROM's would be suitable for you and where to download them. Please experiment with those,..... at your own risk of course.
If you were able to create a bootable MS-DOS floppy disk, then you can use this floppy as an image for a bootable MS-DOS CD-ROM. With a burning utility like Nero you can choose for a bootable data disk with the floppy as boot image. If you don't have a floppy drive, you will have to do this on another computer. Of course you can provide the floppy disk and/or CD-ROM with the necessary tools. Notice that the burned CD-ROM appears to be empty, the data has been put on the boot sector. If you boot from this CD-ROM, a virtual drive A: will be created. Only if you provided the floppy with CD-ROM drivers, the CD-ROM drives will be available as well.
NOTE: this procedure makes it possible to create a bootable system backup CD-ROM (needed if you are not provided with a floppy drive).
Bart's PE (Preinstalled Environment, download: www.nu2.nu/pebuilder) makes it possible to create your own Windows XP environmental, bootable from CD-ROM . With Bart's PE you can access partitions, even if your own XP doesn't boot anymore. This is the perfect tool to restore your data as described earlier, if your own system is not accessible anymore. Because Bart's PE is Windows XP based, all external storage disks (like USB stick or external hard disk) are accessible without installing any drivers. It takes some time to create your perfect Bart's PE, but it's worth the effort. This tool offers many possibilities like: adobe reader, internet access, file recovery, CD-burning and many others plug-ins are available. Visit the page about building the bootable BartPE CD/DVD for more information.
VistaPE is a Windows Vista based Preinstalled Environment, which offers some advantages compared to BartPE (especially the support for SATA- and RAID controllers). Building VistaPE (download: www.vistape.net) is similar to BartPE, but most importantly: it is easier. Do you own a Windows Vista installation DVD? Just try to build a bootable CD/DVD with VistaPE, the procedure is quite simple! Visit the page about building the bootable VistaPE CD/DVD for more information.
The Ultimate Boot CD (download: www.ultimatebootcd.com) is one of the bootable CD's which must be within reach in case of troubles. The CD contains multiple useful system tools (visit the website for an overview). This CD (especially the powerful tool TestDisk) was very useful to me saving valuable data from an inaccessible hard disk (because of a corrupted partition table caused by a multi boot system with Linux). A new variant on this CD is the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows (download: www.ubcd4win.com).
Herin's BootCD (direct download: www.hirensbootcd.net/download/Hirens.BootCD.11.0.zip) is a free bootable CD that contains a load of useful tools which can be very usefull for analyzing, recovering and fixing problems even when Windows won't boot anymore.
De System Rescue CD (download: www.sysresccd.org) offers you an extended Linux based bootable CD-ROM. This CD-ROM contains some interesting tools:
A BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) with different error messages frequently popups? This might be caused by a failure of the RAM-memory. Make sure there is nothing wrong with the RAM-memory and test it with the bootable CD MemTest86+ (download: www.memtest.org/#downiso).
If you would like to experiment with a new operating system (keeping your current operating system), then it's necessary to create more then one partition. If you don't like to pay for partitioning software (like the out of date Partition Magic or Paragon Partition Manager), use one of the free partition managers GParted Live CD (download: http://gparted.sourceforge.net/livecd.php) or Parted Magic (download: http://partedmagic.com). These partition manager (based on Linux) have the advantage to be able to resize NTFS-partitions (Windows Vista partitions included!) without loosing data. Unfortunately, they don't function on all systems because the hardware is not always supported correctly.
Changing the password from one of the user accounts can also be done with the bootable CD Offline NT Password & Registry Editor. You can find this CD on http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd.
Would you like to try Linux safely? Try Knoppix (download: www.knoppix.org), a bootable Linux CD-ROM. Remember: don't mess with the partitions on your hard disk.
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