Windows Recovery CD – Never Leave Home without One

Yesterday I felt the strong desire to have a bootable Windows Recovery CD. There was a nagging feeling for the past years that I better had one, but another nagging feeling told me that it would probably take around 4 hours to make one. Until yesterday, the second nagging feeling always took precedence over the first one.

This suddenly changed when my computer went for a quick reboot and never came back. As far as I am concerned, this was without any reason since we did not have an argument previously. So I was caught by surprise and needed to get my files from my HDD before attempting any repair using disk images.

First, I tried Reatogo (German Domain) but it complained that I was trying to build a bootable XP CD from a Windows7 environment. This was when my second nagging feeling told me “See?”.

UBCD4Win to the rescue! Like Reatogo, it is also utilizing BartPE and states to make it very easy to build a CD.

Which it was. But when I saw the huge download (200+ Mbyte) I heard the “See?” again. Downloading and installing took some time because the installer calculated checksums to verify every file after installation. But essentially, it boils down to:

  1. Download UBCD4Win
  2. While waiting for the download, copy the contents of your Win XP CD (that’s right, also the hidden and system files) to a directory of your choice WITHOUT blanks in it
  3. Install UBCD4Win, again into a path WITHOUT blanks in it
  4. Let the installer verify all the files when it asks you to
  5. Run UBCD4Win and point the first browser dialog to your copied XP files
  6. Optionally tweak the plugins to get latest virus databases and install Firefox as your browser of choice
  7. Run it

Things I’ve learned:

  • Creating a bootable CD is not that hard thanks to the guys who put a lot of work into making it easy. Much appreciate.
  • Once you have all the prerequisites (a tool like UBCD4Win, your XP CD) most of the work is waiting, actually.
  • UBCD4Win can talk to external USB drives, provided you plug them in prior to booting.
  • UBCD4Win only talks about Win XP SP1 and SP2, but it worked perfectly with SP3 as well.
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