Live CDs for Free Data Recovery

When things go south, it usually means that your boot device is out of action. This means that your typical operating system can’t load. Most people completely freak out at this point. But once you understand how to get at that data, it’s not too bad. The hard route is to try to get the boot device running. The easier route (well, most of the time – there are always exceptions!) is to boot from a device besides your typical hard drive. This is where Live CDs come in so handy. Live CDs give you a full operating system or boot environment. This allows you to search, fix, and optimize that busted hard drive. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of CD’s that will really help you out in your time of need:

Crash Recovery-Linux

  1. recovery of a trashed LILO boot record. How many times does it happen that some person installs windows 98/95 after he/she installed linux? Well in that case windows 9X just overwrites the MBR record and linux won’t be able to boot anymore.
  2. backup over the network in the form of tar.gz tarballs. Both FAT16, FAT32, ext2 and all filesystems which Linux supports in a read/write fashion can be taken care of. The strong part of the CRK is when a disk is replaced or repartitioning is being done. The CRK boots a complete mini linux with networking where all possible hardware which is inside the Linux kernel is available.
  3. Testing hardware of new intel based machines.
  4. Detecting versions and types of hardware. The Linux kernel holds a large database of hardware supported. Booting a linux kernel doesn’t only resolve if the hardware is ok, it also show its specs. This can be handy if one wants to check-out an old/new PC which is for sale.
  5. Recovery of a misconfigured or hacked Linux system. Well that can happen. /etc/fstab can be wrong or the root password is unknown etc.
  6. make a tape backup of a disk which can’t be booted anymore.

Ultimate Boot CD – Linux

  1. CPU tests
  2. Memory tests
  3. Peripheral tools
  4. CPU information
  5. System information
  6. Benchmark tools
  7. Bios tools
  8. Hard disk installation tools
  9. Hard disk diagnostic tools
  10. Hard disk device management tools
  11. Hard disk wiping tools
  12. Hard disk cloning tools
  13. Hard disk low-level editing tools
  14. Partition tools
  15. Boot managers
  16. File tools
  17. NTFS tools
  18. Anti virus/malware tools
  19. Network tools
  20. Dos boot disks
  21. Linux boot disks

Ultimate Boot Disk – Windows

System Rescue CD – Windows/Linux

  1. GParted is a Partition Magic clone for Linux.
  2. GNU Parted is the best text tool for editing your disk partitions under linux
  3. Partimage is a Ghost/Drive-image clone for Linux
  4. File systems tools (e2fsprogs, reiserfsprogs, reiser4progs, xfsprogs, jfsutils, ntfsprogs, dosfstools): they allow you to format, resize, and debug an existing partition of your hard disk
  5. Ntfs3g: allows you to mount your Windows partition and get a full read/write unlimited access to the NTFS partition.
  6. Sfdisk allows you to backup and restore your partition table
  7. Test-disk tool to check and undelete partition, supports reiserfs, ntfs, fat32, ext2/3 and many others
  8. Network tools (Samba, NFS, ping, nslookup, …)

PC Inspector File Recovery – Windows

  1. Finds partitions automatically, even if the boot sector or FAT has been erased or damaged
  2. Recovers files with the original time and date stamp
  3. Supports the saving of recovered files on network drives
  4. Recovers files, even when a header entry is no longer available. Competition products cannot recover such files.

TestDisk – Mac, Windows, Linux

And not to leave out our Mac friends, this software can repair your HFS volumes. Note: TestDisk is on some of the other software packages and is therefore on a LiveCD – hint, hint.