For those of you who have recovered data from a crashed computer for a friend, you have probably heard of the outrageous prices that some charge for copying files off of a hard drive. In the majority of cases when a computer refuses to boot, data recovery does not require removing platters in a clean room, but simply booting the computer up from a Linux live CD.
Linux live CDs are similar to the boot disks of old, except that most live CDs come complete with fully functioning GUIs. When you insert a live CD into your computer and restart it, your computer will boot up from the operating system found on the live CD. Live CDs run completely independent of the computer’s hard drive and operating system, making live CDs a great environment for taking a look at the contents of a hard drive without relying on the hard drive itself.
The problem, however, is that the average Linux live CD comes with little documentation and relies on the user’s knowledge of basic Linux concepts and commands. Because of this, a Linux live CD can be very intimidating for the average Windows user. For example, in Linux there is no “C: drive”; hard drives are found in the “dev” directory (ex: /dev/sda). And once you find your hard drive, you then have to mount a partition before you can access the files on it.
This is where BootMed Plus comes in. BootMed Plus is a Linux live CD geared towards helping the average Windows user to either repair their computer or recover data from it. BootMed Plus boots computers up to a GUI and includes a point and click menu of recovery tasks. On top of this, BootMed Plus comes with built in video tutorials that guide you through recovery and repair in a lingo that Windows users understand.
For the sake of this article, we will take a look at three technics that BootMed Plus employs to help you recover your data or repair your computer. In addition, BootMed Plus can also help you scan for viruses, perform a diagnostics test on your hard drive, fix basic file system errors, clone a drive, and securely erase (wipe) a drive.
Creating a Raw Image
When a block or sector of a hard drive is corrupted, vital information can be lost, causing Windows to be unable to boot. One of the more advanced recovery technics that BootMed Plus makes easy is the creation of a raw hard drive image. A raw image file is an exact copy of the hard drive, copying every 1 and 0.
BootMed Plus’s imaging method tries multiple times to copy information from the corrupted portions of hard drives. If it is not able to read them, it does not stop the copying process, but simply fills in the unreadable space with 0’s. Even a small amount of corruption can cause a computer to not boot, while it may leave many other files intact and recoverable.
Once you have created the image and saved it on an external hard drive, you can access it in Windows, connecting to it as if it were a hard drive. Depending on the damage, you will either be able to drag and drop your files off the image, or scan the image for lost files using Recuva.
Repairing Windows Registries
When a registry file (hive) is damaged or missing, it can prevent Windows from booting up, giving an error message similar to “Missing or Corrupt WINDOWSSYSTEM32CONFIGSOFTWARE.” BootMed Plus can repair damaged registries by recovering them from either a Restore Point (XP) or a Windows Registry backup (Vista/7). The process is quite simple. BootMed Plus searches for partitions with Windows installed on them and then it finds the registry backups and allows you to select one to recover from. The great thing is that this process is completely reversible, as BootMed Plus makes its own backup of your registry before trying to repair it, allowing you to restore your computer to the way it was before you used BootMed.
BootMed Plus can also help you recover your files. BootMed Plus has two file recovery tools allowing you to either search for files (by type or filename) or BootMed Plus can find and open your My Documents folder. In both scenarios, BootMed Plus will open a window from which you can drag and drop your files to a pen drive.
If you would like to find out more about what BootMed Plus can do, just check out this list of tutorials that come built into the CD – http://www.bootmedplus.com/tutorials/.
Get BootMed Plus
BootMed Plus costs $3.99 to download. You can get a copy or find out more by going to http://www.bootmedplus.com. BootMed Plus has a “no questions asked” return policy, meaning that if you are not satisfied with the product, you can get your money back. You will also get access to three months’ worth of updates to the BootMed Plus software.