LiveCD comes to the Rescue

Any professional needs a good toolset in order to do good work.
In the case of a computer technician, that toolset will include rescue disk/s.

A rescue disk will come in handy when a computer should be accessed but the OS doesn't start, the rescue disk will contain a bootable section, which will be an alternative OS to access the computer and its drives.

A good rescue disk should have a large set of tools which should include anti viruses, partition managers, hardware analyzers and fixers as well as many common tools like a web browser, file explorer etc.

A better rescue disk should have a LiveDisk mode as well as a simple windows mode which will contain many tools which can be used in a healthy environment - these tools should be portable and could be used in order to fix a specific problem on a working windows OS.

The livedisk should work with or without an internet connection (which is a problem for antivrus utils as they won't have the latest virus signatures), and the tools will be zipped, and will unzip to temporary memory upon demand.
It should also contain basic drivers for mouse/usb/keyboard etc.

There is a problem with a Livedisk to work using a Windows OS as the windows needs a paid license, thus for many years microsoft tried to block the usage of LiveCDs using their software.

This problem is commonly avoided by technicians using a nice and useful build of Linux, lately being Ubuntu. (As it is updated and has a nice and understandable GUI) [Windows has solved this issue by releasing Windows PE which is free to use as a rescue disk].

Many of these technicians disks use illegal software, but some of them stay in the light and use free software (or trial tools).

Nowdays, there is no need for floppy diskettes rescue disks anymore so more space can be used for the tools in the disks.
Even CD/DVD rescue disks are outdated as not all computers have a DVD drive anymore, so the best option nowdays is to have a USB flash disk with the rescue disk bootable from it - it will work on 95% of the computers and can have virtually unlimited space on it (A good bootable USB rescue disk will support UEFI bios as well as regular bios).

One of the major PC problems is viruses, thus many anti virus companies have their own anti-virus rescue ISOs.
These are good as booting from an external source won't trigger the viruses and enables the tech guy to remove the viruses without them suspecting.

The problem is that you have to hold many bootable flash disks.
So in order to overcome this obstacle I suggest using YUMI (Or its famous alternative - Rufus) which is a free software which enables you to boot to a menu holding and routing you to several boot disks.

I suggest downloading several anti virus rescue disks as well a tech rescue disk or two and bundling all of them in a nice YUMI managed flash disk.

In order to get a nice list of anti virus rescue disk look at this Raymond post
If there is no internet connection on the virus infected PC then you can use this article to download all signatures to those rescue disks and use them offline

As anti virus rescue disk I suggest having a look at the following rescue disks (Try these: Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Dr. Web and AVG).


Medicat

[Updated on 2019]
Medicat assumes (as I have not checked it yet) to have all of the needed tools in it.

Bootable linux (lUbuntu) and win10
All needed repairing tools (Antivirus / Partitioning / Fixing / Filemanagers)
PortableApps for a working OS

Looks like an easy win.

ALL IN ONE – SYSTEM RESCUE TOOLKIT

This one has a dual mode, it can be used as a rescue boot disk using Ubuntu with lots of good software, and it has also a nice windows mode with many tools which can be used (lite version).

All the tools here are legal
It is regularly updated (January 2018)

This tool prides itself for having only one utility for every need (instead of having many different apps doing the same thing).
Its second claim to fame is that it has an automatic mode which will run all tools one after the other and fix all issues (use with caution).
It doesn't install any software on your computer (all portable).


Gandalf Windows WINPE

Boots to a fully functional windows 10 (or 7,8 if you pick older dists) which contains lots of installed software on it.

Acutally, I am not sure why I will need this one, as most of these utils are just the regular good day to day software anyone should need, this one is more like a bootable-fully-equipped-windows disk, something which might come in handy for several cases, just not for me.
Latest update was at 04/2017


Hiren's BootCD

This is the short history of this tool

  • Was one of the first
  • Was the best of its kind
  • Used illegal software
  • Updated to all-legal software
  • Added WinXP mini boot
  • Added Ubuntu boot
  • Added portable tools for a working windows OS
  • Wasn't updated since 2012



Ultimate BootCD

This one is only a boot disk, it doesn't work on windows and has no windows utilities on it.
It will boot to a freeDos and holds its utils in a command like menu.

So if you want to test your hardware without OS interference, or see that these utilities can't be found in the other boot disks, add this one to the list, it is quite small in size so it shouldn't harm your big YUMI flash disk.

It was refreshed at 2017.



Honorary Mentions


Some releases which are not mentioned as they do not suffice IMHO
Active boot disk - They use only their own software
System Rescue CD - Contains only several tools all of which are Unix tools
Trinity Rescue Kit - Latest update was 2016 but even then I think it was minor
Falcon four BootCD - An nice attempt to upgrade Hiren's bootCD, not maintained as it should, but probably better than the non-updated Hiren



Conclusion

Install Yumi
Using Yumi install several rescue disks on your flash disk
For Antivirus rescue disks install about one or several of the good ones (Try these: Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Dr. Web and AVG)
For rescuing/analyzing/fixing install MediCat and All-In-One (AIO-SRT).

You will also find the win utilities from Hiren / AIO-SRT / MediCat useful for a working windows OS.


Final summary

YUMI containing: Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Dr. Web and AVG rescue disks, AIO-SRT, MediCat (which contains PortableApps).

If hard pressed, I would install only MediCat.

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