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Geek Repair: Create Your Own Ultimate Recovery CD

If you’ve ever had booting problems, spyware or viruses, you’ve likely attempted to boot from the Windows CD and run some repairs… but sometimes that’s just not enough. Sure, you can easily backup your data using Ubuntu, but a much better option is to use the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.

The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows is a recovery CD with loads of useful software for repairing or fixing almost any Windows problem. Because it’s based on Windows XP, there are many really helpful tools included that you are likely already familiar with.

Note that the installation will create the ISO/CD from your Windows XP CD… you can’t download the boot CD directly.

Building the Ultimate Boot CD

The first thing you’ll want to do is download and install the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD4Win) software, which is just the toolkit for creating your own CD version.

After installing UBCD4Win, you’ll be prompted on first launch to search for the Windows XP installation files. I’d just choose No and manually pick the source in the next step.

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In my case, I added the Windows XP cd into my disc drive, and picked D:\ as the source. You’ll notice in the Media output section you can choose to burn the disc directly to a CD, although I prefer to create an ISO image.

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You’ll notice the Plugins button, which will let you turn features on the boot cd on or off. Since we’re not worried about that, just click the Build button, and you’ll have to wait for a while for the CD or ISO image to be created.

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At the end of the process you should see an ISO file in the location specified above, and it will likely be around 640mb in size.

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You can use any number of cd burning packages to create the actual CD, but I prefer to use ImgBurn because it’s nice and simple. (note that this screenshot is from a machine that doesn’t have a burner… just for illustration).

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Now that you have the CD, it’s time to stick it in the drive and boot from it. You’ll be nearly immediately presented with the boot options menu, where you can run a memory test, access the XP recovery console, or just hit the Enter key to start up the ultimate boot cd.

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Once it finally boots (which can take a while), you’ll be presented with a desktop that looks and works similarly to XP, although it’s actually running GeoShell, a minimalist shell replacement application.

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There are any number of really useful utilities installed, like previously mentioned DriveImage XML, which can be used to create full backups of your hard drive.

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There’s another tool called SelfImage which isn’t quite as user-friendly looking, but will let you clone a drive with just a few clicks.

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And of course there are a number of Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware utilities, very useful for dealing with a spyware infestation that is preventing you from booting.

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Finally, there’s a number of MBR fixing utilities, which will help if you are having issues booting.

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There’s a lot more tools, too many to cover right now… but stay tuned because we’re going to start explaining useful scenarios to help you troubleshoot, as well as some other boot disks.

Note: You’ll need a copy of Windows XP to create the CD, but you can actually use the CD to repair some elements of a Vista machine as well.

Download the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/26/08

Comments (32)

  1. Norcross

    This will save the day. I’m sure of it.

  2. Matt

    This is very informative and helpful. Thank-you

  3. Tuli

    Hi from Italy.

    In the cd you can also integrate some other interesting software if you have it insalled on the pc making the building. Read the documentation for this.

  4. Jorge Rosa

    Well worth the time it takes to build. Never needed it myself, but I have saved already a couple of people’s a%%es. I try to keep a copy always at hand.
    Too bad some utils don’t work properly in Vista (e. g., FixMBR only does half the fix).

  5. Hojji

    I have a laptop (HP) that asked me to create a recovery cd, which I never did. I now have problems due to a virus and need to create this cd. And obvously, this tool would help alot. Anyone have any ideas for me?
    Thanks.

  6. br0adband

    And, after you’ve created this wonderful CD customized to your tastes, if you have a spare 1GB USB stick laying around not doing much at all, you can transfer the contents of the UBCD4Win directly to the USB stick and end up with a bootable USB stick version of it using a utility called PE2USB, which you can find more about here:

    http://gocoding.com/page.php?al=petousb

    Very cool utility, and booting off the USB stick version is quite a bit faster as well. Also makes it easier to update the AV signatures as required.

    If you do make a UBCD4Win, here’s the best tip I can offer: use a CDRW – that way you can update it any time you choose just by erasing it and updating it with whatever new utilities you choose to add.

    Have fun, always…

  7. Logik

    indeed a very useful article.

    @ br0adband
    how am i suppose to update the virus definitions? lets assume that i am on a bootable USB pendrive?

  8. bennet

    can i retrieve my files from my laptop with this?
    (i have a windows xp startup failure)

  9. jd2066

    @bennet: I think so. You can access you files with this and save them to a floppy, external hard drive or burn them to a CD.
    There is also another article on this site for using a Ubuntu disc to do that if you either have a Ubuntu disc already or don’t have a Windows XP disc to make a UBCD4Win disc with.

  10. oc5609

    will this work without the windows xp disk?
    and can i back up all photo’s from this as well?

    Help please

    Thanks :)

  11. Robert

    GREAT !!!
    my question is….( i have had this SpywareProtect 2009 virus since January) it won’t let me boot or reboot my desktop PC. and when i run in Safe mode, i can’t do nothing. One time it allowed me to log on to windows but then there’s this pop-up: (windows system cannot verify (null) and it’s component. please check and type it again and search for it) i think it’s the virus doing that or something. Anyway can i download the UBCD from another PC and burn it onto a CD and put it in my infected PC? would it work?
    please help me out…

  12. Stephen

    Robert: run ComboFix. You might have to rename the .exe to do so. This will remove this variant of SmitFraud.

  13. MD7212

    Hi Geek,

    Just wanted to convey my sincere thanks to you for maintaining and updating such a great website – neatly categorized. I just happen to find it yesterday during a google search and very happy to see wealth of information in your site. Great Work! Thank you…

  14. Wes

    Where did you get this window version of MbrFix v1.0.0.8?
    I can’t find this version anywhere.

  15. GURUmicro

    UBCD is a must have for any service tech. I use this disc almost daily. HD tune and the memtest apps are great for hardware diagnostics right out of the gate. It’s always wise to check integrity there before spending time trying other things only to later realize it’s actually a hardware issue!

  16. 1fastbullet

    You say:

    “After installing UBCD4Win, you’ll be prompted on first launch to search for the Windows XP installation files. I’d just choose No and manually pick the source in the next step.”

    Is this statement to mean that it is possible to search the hard drive for the installation files, even though you choose not to?

    Many computers, including at least one of mine, have a “hidden” partition that, I believe, is a rescue partition,. Many times I have been tempted to delete this 3.5 GB partition and make use of the space for C-drive. But if it is possible to first remove the data from this partition, instead of simply blowing it off, AND ESPECIALLY if it would be useful in creating a boot disc, I would like to recover it, first.

  17. wadud

    hi. i have original win xp home edition sp1 installed to my pc. then i using windows update to update my xp to sp2 and then sp3. all drivers also updated. all software also update. so, i want to know, how to make recovery this for my current xp home edition sp3 + updated drivers + updated software into blank cd? that mean i want to create recovery cd using xp+drivers+software currently running on my computer. please help me. thanks

  18. curlacu

    what if you don’t have your original windows xp cd? can this still be done?

  19. Prabhu

    thanks for the post buddy…really a handy help

  20. Bogdan

    Hi, I am form Romania. I have a question. How can I install tool that the program doesn’t have?

  21. LA-dude

    really interesting, but what about if I have Windows Vista 32 bit,because in the article there’s just mention of XP. How can I make one for vista?
    thanks

  22. Will

    I made one of these CDs last night, but the XP machine I’m having troubles with won’t boot from it. Any ideas?

  23. Kisan

    this direction above to create a boot able Cd does not work. First of all when you install download the UBCD4Win it does not install the PE builder with it and has to be downloaded seperately. Second following the screen shot to create iso file did not work. there is was no .iso file the specified directory.

    Not to mention Mcafee detects problem while installing the actual UBCD4Win.

    Does anyone else have a easy way to create a bootable cd that will easily allow users to reset password on windows xp/win 7?

  24. Kisan

    when you try to launch the UBCD4Win it wants you to have a USB device mounted. No choice to point to CD/DVD. Installed PE builder seperately that give you a choice to create the iso as instruction above but when done there was no .iso file take further action.

  25. kyaw87

    good
    I like this

  26. anonymous

    Windows is the most self crippled os that i ever see ! Why we are using win, becose there were no real alternative ! Linux is unpropriete as desktop/workstation os due to lack of user frendlines and ease of use, software respository is limited and installing from binary that is always release of a new software for Linux is a nightmare not supported from many distros in 90-99% or almost impossible and in 99% you do not have a ful hardware driver support and lack of graphic card driver to have max acceleration to have 32 bit graphic supported at max acceleration ! Belive me i have tried various Linux distros for a few year now and found that evertime in every distro is something missing, not supported, lack of driver and so on … ! MAC is too expensive ! And we are doomed and condemed to faulty MS from which isnt question it will fail, but the only question is when it will fail ! Microsoft will newer implemented system security in their product due having secret services their finger in play of designing it and even supporting development with money ! Now the problem is that hacker found exploiting holes that are mentioned to secret services to use and exploitig it as well to ! And user of MS we are fuckt up !!! And we pay for it !!! I wont discus this mater eny longer internet, is full of this i only point to problems that microsoft will newer fix !!! Thus so many atempts to maninatin and recover faulty windows as we see here !!! My new hardware would be with max virtualization support and the only way for me to run win if i must so is to be runned in virtual environment so many of win problems are gone and you have posibility to portability on every system that can run virtual environment but hardware motherboard anc cpu must support VT as you must have at least 4 GB RAM or more and that these days isnt problem eny more ! So if then, then jail MS and you can back up whole os as file !
    So running MS as native OS becomes more and more problematic !!!!

  27. Paul

    Will this work for a Windows 7 OS, 64 bit?

    Thanks.

  28. James T Kirk

    if this works, you rock geek squad!!! I already have the UBCD but found out the hard way — after looking at “all” of the files in windows, that these files don’t actually run in windows, only with Linux. i have heard about some the utilities and they sound useful and interesting, but i haven’t been able to use them before i’m running windows and don’t know muck about Linux. thanks for finding one for windows!!!!!
    thanks mate

  29. goodtime212

    Top Squad !!! and sensible folk with IT LOL#

  30. Danny T

    Please help…I created the iso disk and change the boot order to boot from the cd, but it did not work…It could not read the cd. What do I do now?

  31. Danny T

    Please help…I created the iso disk and change the boot order to boot from the cd, but it did not work…It could not read the cd. What do I do now? Help!!!

  32. TurbanPoison

    Create Recovery Disk for Windows Vista 64 Bit
    My HD (HP Pavilion) has a factory recovery partitian, but the problem is the HD is starting to fail so I need a recovery disk to install Windows Vista onto a new HD. After hours of searching I eventually found solution. Back up your HD so it is current.
    Go to Start—–>Help and Support
    1. In the Windows Help and Support search “Recovery factoy settings”
    2. Select Recovery factory settings link
    3. Select Create recovery disk
    4. Select Click to Launch the Recovery Disk Creator
    You are only allowed to create one set of recovery disks (Keep them safe) You will need 3 DVD’s to create a full set of disks.

    I hope this answers all those questions and saves you hours of hunting information.

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