TechSpot: Save the day (and Windows) using a Ubuntu flash drive

The latest version of Ubuntu has been out for nearly a month now and if you're anything like us the peaceably-named operating system is now sitting untouched after you gave it a quick go for a week or so. Ubuntu 10.04 may not have convinced you to send Microsoft packing, but don't scrap your bootable USB drive just yet, it may come in handy the next time Windows goes haywire.

Being prepared by having another environment to troubleshoot your PC helps tremendously. We will cover a few ways an Ubuntu boot flash drive can save your tail when disaster strikes like resetting a forgotten Windows password, clearing malware and retrieving lost data.

If you don't have a bootable USB drive, check out this guide on creating one with an Ubuntu LiveCD.

Read: Save the Day (and Windows) Using an Ubuntu Flash Drive

These articles are brought to you in partnership with TechSpot.

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23 Comments

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This arctile makes it sounds like using linux to fix windows is something new....oddd.....oh and 10.04LTS is the worst ubuntu yet for me, my 2 linux computer were running fine....both had uptime of about 250 days each....but since upping them from 10.04 to 10.04LTS I have to reboot many times each day, either due to gnome crashing and then halting the whole computer, OR after about 12 hrs of run time everything just freezes up, and I cant even access the machines on PuTTy, webmin, etc

Since I use a Radeon 5870 I can't install v10.0.4. I'm greeted with a black screen in the middle of the installation process ( a known problem ) and none of the suggested fixes work.

I use an ISO boot of Bartpe. It boots in like 20 seconds and runs from ram. I use it to backup peoples files before a reformat.

warwagon said,
I use an ISO boot of Bartpe. It boots in like 20 seconds and runs from ram. I use it to backup peoples files before a reformat.

1 problems man, bartpe will only read FAT and NTFS partitions......using linux u can read hard drives of any format!

Deihmos said,
Something always goes wrong with an Ubuntu update. Makes me wonder why they put a new version out every 6 months. On this version I am unable to install over raid and the audio sucks really bad. https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/parted/+bug/568050

They release every 6 months because that's their schedule. Audio sucks on your hardware primarily because the drivers come from Canonical in an attempt to provide out of the box hardware support for as many different machines as possible since most hardware vendors refuse to produce Linux drivers. Windows 7 is the first Windows OS I've seen that has anything resembling decent hardware support out of the box, and by "Out of the box" I don't mean the pre-installed pre-configured setup that came on your PC when you bought it.

Edited by Gerowen, May 28 2010, 12:54am :

I don't like linux but i always have a Linux Live CD around. This is often the best tool to save a broken Windows système.

It would be nice if they did a USB boot version that could be used for Rootkit detection. It horrifies me that many of the commercial AntiVirus "solutions" don't work. Moderators on Computer Associates help forum REGULARLY recommend (Free) Malware Bytes when their AV software fails to clean up malicious code.

Personally I prefer WinXP / Win2k3 BartPE USB boot when fixing an errant Windows O/S. If only the Linux distro's stopped squabbling among themselves, and offered a common install and UI

Huh I just use "Ultimate Boot CD", and during the XP-era, used GParted live CD for and partition management.

This to me reads like an Ubuntu sell, when any distro should suffice. The tools are not ubuntu specific (avast/gparted/chntpw). Pretty sure GParted is also a standalone.

Personally, I'll go with WindowsPE or BartPE, when recovering Windows partitions.
PortableApps is super handy as well. Online virus scanners are pretty good.


I'll just copy and paste the above two comments in here, as they both apply to me also.

This to me reads like an Ubuntu sell, when any distro should suffice. The tools are not ubuntu specific (avast/gparted/chntpw). Pretty sure GParted is also a standalone.

Personally, I'll go with WindowsPE or BartPE, when recovering Windows partitions.
PortableApps is super handy as well. Online virus scanners are pretty good.

arcane47 said,
This to me reads like an Ubuntu sell, when any distro should suffice. The tools are not ubuntu specific (avast/gparted/chntpw). Pretty sure GParted is also a standalone.

Personally, I'll go with WindowsPE or BartPE, when recovering Windows partitions.
PortableApps is super handy as well. Online virus scanners are pretty good.

Personally, I do prefer using Ubuntu, but you're right in that it's not specific to one distro. That said, it is rather easy to install gparted and chntpw on Ubuntu compared to some other distros, which is a big help for those who are only really used to Windows. Those two might be in the Debian repos too, but I wouldn't know...

arcane47 said,
Personally, I'll go with WindowsPE or BartPE, when recovering Windows partitions.
PortableApps is super handy as well. Online virus scanners are pretty good.
Just a question, but if you are working on someone's infected PC, would not your PE Windows also possibly get infected while handling files?

markjensen said,
Just a question, but if you are working on someone's infected PC, would not your PE Windows also possibly get infected while handling files?

It's possible, but very unlikely. Unless you're using the drivers from the Windows install vs PE drivers, a rootkit won't even pose a risk. Just don't execute the virus. If you put the PE on non-rewritable media, a simple reboot will kill the virus in the virtual drive anyway.

markjensen said,
Just a question, but if you are working on someone's infected PC, would not your PE Windows also possibly get infected while handling files?

Highly unlikely unless you where dumb enough to execute the virus, and where loading the PE from a flash drive. The normal method is to run it off an optical disk which poses no risk.

arcane47 said,
This to me reads like an Ubuntu sell, when any distro should suffice. The tools are not ubuntu specific (avast/gparted/chntpw). Pretty sure GParted is also a standalone.

Personally, I'll go with WindowsPE or BartPE, when recovering Windows partitions.
PortableApps is super handy as well. Online virus scanners are pretty good.

I'm still using Knoppix, works just fine.

I have a bootable Arch Linux distro on a USB flash drive that I like to use. It's actually installed to it, so I can keep files and settings.