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Your machine is dead.  Now what?  I keep these bootable CDs on hand, just in case:

  1. SpinRite.  This program has saved me several times.  Fixes unusable disks that cause systems to hang.  Worth $90 the first time you use it. 
  2. Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.  This will allow you to boot a dead system from a CD and copy all the important stuff to an external hard drive (plug the hard drive in before booting).  There are also a lot of system utilities on the CD to help with repair.  Free but requires a Windows XP license.
  3. Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset is similar in concept to Ultimate Boot CD for Windows but is from Microsoft.  Unfortunately, Microsoft restricts distribution to customers who have purchased Software Assurance.
  4. Acronis True Image Home boot disk.  Boot from CD and backup to external hard drive.  Program also performs regular backups from Windows.  $50 list.
  5. Memory testers.  These exercise the system’s memory and report on any problems found.  All free.  Memtest86, memtest86+, Windows Memory Diagnostic.
Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 8:32 PM | Back to top


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