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 (Download from Ninite) 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.