How To Recover Your PC Using The Linux Rescue CD - Part 1 of 2

In this two part tutorial I'll show you how to create a Rescue CD and we'll follow all the steps required to put your PC back to the exact state it was at the time of your image.
Published: Jul 29, 2008
Author: Annette McGrath
Related OS: Windows

Recover Your PC Using The Linux Rescue CD - Part 1 of 2

by Annette McGrath of Paramount Software

In part five of our series on working with Macrium Reflect, we look at restoring your system using the Linux rescue CD. In this two part tutorial I'll show you how to create a Rescue CD and we'll follow all the steps required to put your PC back to the exact state it was at the time of your image. We'll pretend that your PC has been infected with a nasty virus and you have to restore your operating system to the pre-virus state.

Why do you need a rescue CD?

This is a good question. The simple answer is because Windows won't let you access all the files on your hard disk. Windows uses both the RAM (main memory) and the hard disk during normal operation. Many of the thousands of files in your Windows system directory are open and running to keep your PC humming along. You can't simply replace them with a different version because they may be loaded into memory and inaccessible from the disk. The only way you can freely access every part of your system partition is to start your PC with another operating system that loads entirely into RAM. Enter Linux. Linux can have a very small footprint and is ideal for this task. The rescue CD that ships with Macrium Reflect is only 6MB in size, but still provides USB, Fire wire, network and disk services and has a nice GUI as well.

Let's start by burning the Linux CD.

1. Start Reflect, click the Other Tasks panel, and then click the Create a boot-able Rescue CD option.

2. The Rescue CD wizard will open.

Ensure that the Linux option is selected and click 'Next'

3. The next Wizard page is the burn page.

Put an empty or erasable CD or DVD in your burner and click 'Finish'. It's better to use non-erasable CD-R or DVD+/-R media. This tends to be more reliable than RW media for booting. That's all you need to do.

Note: If your CD burner has problems creating the disc, you can save the image to a special file called an ISO image file. Click on the CD/DVD burner drop-down list and select 'Create ISO image file'. You can then use any burning software that you have on your PC to create the rescue CD.

If your PC refuses to boot with the rescue CD, then return to this wizard and click the 'Advanced' button. This allows you to create a special 'compatibility mode' disc which should allow even the most stubborn PC to boot with the rescue CD.

The boot process

Now I'll take you through the boot process. We are going to start your PC using the Rescue CD. Windows is not used at all in this process, everything is down to Linux.

Normally, when your PC starts, the first action is to load a small program from your hard disk called the Master Boot Record (MBR). The MBR knows how to continue the boot process and passes control to the giant operating system that's residing on your hard disk - Windows. We're not going to let that happen this time, instead we're going to allow the Rescue CD to take control.

Your PC has to be configured to check the CD/DVD drive to see if it can boot from there. It has to do this before it checks the hard disk and this can only be configured in a special place called the BIOS. Many PC's are pre-configured to make this check and the simplest way to find out is to put your Rescue CD in the CD tray and start your PC. You should start from cold, that is, power off the PC and then press the on button. If you see your normal Windows start up screen then we've got some more work to do, if you see a message saying 'Loading Linux....' then you can skip the next bit.

Configuring your PC to start from the CD/DVD drive.

As I mentioned this can only be set up from the BIOS. Accessing the BIOS varies from PC to PC but you will always see a brief message that tells you how to do this as the PC is starting. Power on your PC and watch the screen carefully. Look for a line of text that says something like, 'Hit Del to enter setup' or 'Press F2 for BIOS settings'. Once you've found the correct key (generally, Del, or one of the function keys), press it repeatedly until you see a BIOS setup screen.

I won't repeat many articles already on the internet about setting your BIOS to boot from CD. You can find pictures of BIOS setup screens and instructions here: http://www.hiren.info/pages/bios-boot-cdrom .

Once you've changed the BIOS settings correctly your PC should load the Macrium Rescue CD very quickly. It's only 6MB in size and you should be at the first wizard page in less than 30 seconds.

In part II of this tutorial we'll step through the restore wizard and get your system back.

If you have a question on how to do something on the computer you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Annette McGrath

Annette is a senior programmer at Paramount Software UK Ltd. She has been responsible for much of the coding and design of Macrium Reflect and has many years experience in software design and C, C++ programming languages.

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