Open Source

Review: SystemRescueCD

SystemRescueCD contains a number of outstanding tools that can help you to troubleshoot and repair Linux desktops and servers, and Windows machines.

As much as information technology professionals don't like it, there are times when emergency measures are necessary. You never know when a virus will take down a machine (or network), or a partition table will become corrupt. Because you never know what will strike (and when it will happen) it is always best to have a multitude of recovery tools available.

In some instances, it is as easy as restoring a previous image. But in other instances, you will have to resort to a rescue/recovery tool. SystemRescueCD is a Linux-based rescue disk that contains a number of outstanding tools that can help you to troubleshoot (and hopefully repair) Linux desktops, Linux servers, and Windows machines.


  • GNU Parted: creates, resizes, moves, copies partitions, and filesystems (and more)
  • GParted GUI: implementation using the GNU Parted library
  • Partimage: popular opensource disk image software which works at the disk block level
  • FSArchiver: flexible archiver that can be used as both system and data recovery software
  • File systems tools (for Linux and Windows filesystems): format, resize, and debug an existing partition of a hard disk
  • Ntfs3g: enables read/write access to MS Windows NTFS partitions
  • Sfdisk: saves / restores partition table (and more)
  • Memtest+: to test the memory of your computer (first thing to test when you have a crash or unexpected problems)
  • Network tools: (Samba, NFS, ping, and nslookup) to backup your data across the network
  • Additional vendor information
  • TechRepublic Photo Gallery

Who's it for?

SystemRescueCD is an outstanding tool that aids the system administrator in the task of restoring partitions, troubleshooting boot manager (Grub and LILO), backing up windows partitions, burning critical data to CD (Requires SystemRescueCD to be run from USB) and much more. SystemRescueCD can be used in both Graphical and text mode which makes it very versatile for administrators.

What problem does it solve?

SystemRescueCD solves many problems for the administrator: Resize partitions, create partitions, recover lost partitions, recover lost data, boot disk creation, and much more.

Standout features

  • GnuParted, fdisk, Partimage: Partition editors/managers
  • Testdisk: Partition recovery
  • CD/DVD burner
  • Archiving and unarchiving
  • Support for many file systems
  • Windows registry editing (text only)
  • FreeDOS for memory testing and other hardware diagnostics

What's wrong?

The biggest problem many users will come across is the fact that some of the tools are not as user-friendly as some of the tools they are used to. Add to that, the issue of the sometimes graphically-challenged machines which will render the administrator locked into text-only mode and SystemRescueCD can be as much of a challenge to use as the problems it is trying to fix.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If you are looking for yet another tool to add to your system rescue toolkit, you should not overlook SystemRescueCD. With a solid set of tools on a LiveCD it is a must have for serious system administrators. There might be a bit of a learning curve for some of the more difficult tools, but it is worth the time and effort.

User rating

Have you encountered or used SystemRescueCD? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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