How to Combine Rescue Disks to Create the Ultimate Windows Repair Disk

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We’ve covered loads of different anti-virus, Linux, and other boot disks that help you repair or recover your system, but why limit yourself to just one? Here’s how to combine your favorite repair disks together to create the ultimate repair toolkit for broken Windows systems—all on a single flash drive.

The ones we’ve covered already? Here’s a quick list of all the ways you can recover your system with a rescue disk:

If you need to clean up an infected system, we’d absolutely recommend the BitDefender CD, since it’s auto-updating. Best bet? Create your ultimate boot disk with as many of the different utilities as your flash drive can hold.

Creating Your Own Custom Rescue Disk: Prepare Your Drive

To create the rescue disk, you’re going to want a USB flash drive with a decent amount of space—for our purposes, 2 GB is the minimum size, but you’d be better off with something a little bigger if you want to put a lot of repair disks on it, especially the larger ones.

Once you’ve picked out your drive, the first thing you’ll need to do? Format your drive as FAT32. That’s right, the software we’re going to use requires the FAT32 file system, so right-click on the drive and select Format from the menu.

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Choose FAT32 from the drop-down menu under File system, and then click Format.

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Create the Custom Rescue Drive: Download ISOs and Copy Files

To create the custom drive, we’ll use a small piece of software called SARDU, which combines a bunch of functionality into a single package—you can use it to download the ISO images, write everything to the USB drive, or create an ISO image that you could burn to an optical disc—though obviously you’re space-limited in that case.

Once you download and extract SARDU, you can simply start clicking on any of the buttons to trigger a download of that rescue disk.

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There’s a whole bunch of utilities included, including really useful ones like Gparted and the System Rescue CD, Ophcrack, and others.

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And you can use it to directly download Ubuntu as well.

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Or you can download the ISO images separately and put them into the ISO folder (you’ll have to restart the application once you’re done).

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All done? click the Make a USB button over on the right-hand side…

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And everything will be created and copied to the drive.

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That’s pretty much all there is to that.

Using Your Customized Rescue Drive

Just plug the disk into an available port, and choose the option to boot from USB—you may have to take a trip into the BIOS settings to enable booting from removable drives, or you might have to hit a key during bootup to display the boot options menu, where you can choose the device to boot from.

Once you do successfully boot from the flash drive, you’ll see a menu like this:

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Select any of the categories, and you’ll see all the rescue disks or other disks that you’ve put on your drive:

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Just like that, you’re booting your rescue disk.

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Enjoy your awesome rescue disk.

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 01/5/11
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