Linux

Video: Five Linux rescue tools for recovering Windows, Mac, or Linux machines

Bill Detwiler shows you five Linux rescue tools for recovering Windows, Mac, or Linux machines that won't boot.

When a machine won't boot users often panic. But with the right tools, a seasoned IT pro can often revive a seemingly unbootable PC or at the very least recover the user's data. During this episode of TR Dojo, I highlight the following five Linux rescue tools for recovering Windows, Mac, or Linux machines:

For those who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or read Jack Wallen's article, "10 Linux rescue tools for recovering Linux, Windows, or Mac machines," on which this video is based.

You can also sign up to receive the latest TR Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

70 comments
Megabyte1024
Megabyte1024

These are my experiences where my OS fails to boot. But there are instances that I screw up GRUB and then I use the LiveCD to recover after a while.

mariapeter12
mariapeter12

I guess "Stellar phoenix Linux data recovery 4.0" Deserves to be in the list of top Linux recovery tools

Migration Expert Zone
Migration Expert Zone

These tools are great for helping you rescue data, but what about actually fixing the boot problem? If it's a malware issue, these won't help. (You mention that F-Secure has a malware scanner, but does it work on Windows installs or only Linux?) Do any of the utilities include tools for fixing busted MBRs?

vikrant48
vikrant48

I vote 50/50 for hardware/software failures. I have seen a few cases where malware made a system unbootable or unusable, but most that I have encountered are because of either hardware failures, or users breaking the system when trying to do updates they were unqualified to perform.

whatnut
whatnut

Most users that fiddle with file systems, partition tables and old hardware have at some point downloaded and ran a LiveCD to rescue or recover a disk. Since what? 2003? 2004? 2005? Knoppix was king back then, but today any LiveCD will do nicely. All you need is Testdisk and dd_rescue on a stick.. Why are you dumbing down the content? Why not get your hands dirty? Why don't you tell your users that GParted will further the degradation of ext-fs superblocks for example? Show them how to use fdisk and e2fsck to restore ext parts? Be the Dojo you claim to be?

wael_jabari
wael_jabari

I used to use a linux based utility to reset local admin p/w on any Xp PC. it called "Petter Nordahl-Hagen's Offline NT Password & Registry Editor" it's a very handy tool, helps u when u forget ur p/w.

puchatek2
puchatek2

Hey, Detwiler, It's pronounced "oo-BOON-too", not "oo-BUHN-too". And, please, spare us the outtakes. They're not as funny as you think.

Will-V-King
Will-V-King

i don't have experience in recovering data from tools for linux. but i've used testdisk to recover(re-write) my partition table,that's very good. and i'm glad to try these tools when it's necessary.may be the next second.haha~

MorrellF
MorrellF

My name is Morrell and I have been in IT for 10 years. I downloaded Knoppix, Gparted Live, Ubumtu Rescue Remix and F-Secure Rescue CD iso. The only one that had no problem burning to CD for F-secure. The other 3 I wasted blank CDs on. No success burning the others at all. I am open to suggestions at mcs@bigpond.net.au

pcassistance_org
pcassistance_org

Is a great application for combining all of these bootable recovery medias. http://www.sarducd.it/ (english is there if you scroll down). I've found this really useful tool and turned my 4gb flash drive into a swiss army knife of recovery tools. It includes support for everything mentioned above (and even has the option to add custom ISOs.) All the tools you mentioned are all things i use for system recovery and are all great assets to my computer toolkit.

DGermantr@Real-World-Systems.com
DGermantr@Real-World-Systems.com

Poorly named(IMHO) and not titled well either(IMHO) A very nice friendly, complete set of utilities. Includes HD S.M.A.R.T display/adjust tool: smartctl, partition tools: cfdisk, fdisk, sfdisk, gdisk, gpart and GParted.File recovery tools: ddrescue, softcopy, Scrounge NTFS, testDisk. file/partition saveing toosl: fsarchive, partclone, partimage and destinations: CD, DVD, UDPcast, rsync, pmount and lftp. And a lot more found at partedmagic.com

bng44270
bng44270

Puppy linux beats the crap out of knoppix, if for no other reason, by booting faster.

Rob C
Rob C

It is not a rescue disk in the sense that there are no special tools present. (They could be added though). If my OS won't boot I intend to use Puppy Linux LiveCD, because - - It loads into memory(small memory usage), and runs from there. - The CD can be removed, and the CD drive is available whilst still in the session. - It easily identifies, and 'Loads' (shows) all the internal and external drives. - It is a friendly OS to use (for those lacking Linux experience, eg me). - When you are getting used to it (playing with it), and fine tuning it (or adding programs), you can retain all of that. It offers to save it for you, and all you have to do is plug in a thumb drive, and it will create the file, that will remember all of your settings, etc. I love it. PS Bill, I have complained often, that this site does not force those adding comments, to add a unique Title. Such a Title, makes it easy for us to skim over the Titles, and only read the ones that we are interested in. Ideally you could ask this site to blank out the Title, so we are FORCED to type in our own Title. If you have as much luck as I have had (the site continues to fill in the Title with the article's Title), perhaps you could add a wee bit to the end of your videos, to train the viewers.

RLKCon
RLKCon

Just curious if any of these work on Encrypted drives. Obviously I'm guessing not, but hey you never know. If it does, it rather defeats the purpose of encrypting the drive in the first place. Medical Environments are often times Encrypted to protect medical data, I'm guessing these tools will not work in most situations when the drive has a corporate encryption policy. Anyone care to comment?

jerrypcjr
jerrypcjr

In showing bloopers, a second blooper was revealed = the green screen. I always thought that was a fake data center. The racks are not positioned right for cooling and it is too quiet. LOL

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

But with all Recovery Tools they need to be used when required not because they are available. There are also some excellent Windows Data Recovery Tools which can be used just as easily when the time is right. ;) Col

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

FSecure is predominantly a windows AV program. The liveCD version of it is simply a bootable FSecure AV (regardless of OS behidn it) which mounts any hard drives it finds in the host machine and scans them. If your Windows box is infested, the non-Windows liveCD environment pretty much blocks the malware from running in response to an AV scan. It's the modern day equivalent of the old AV scanning diskette but without the risk of the bootable media providing a native environment for the malware. FSecure liveCD can be used to scan for malware or you can enable the "and clean" option which will try to remove discovered malware.

seanferd
seanferd

there is an article around here on just that topic.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

Some say tomato some say tomato. What's the problem? Bad day? Girlfriend dumped you for her new webcam friend? He is providing a valuable service and his outtakes are hilarious. Now go learn to play nice with others and tie your shoes before you trip and bump your head.

seanferd
seanferd

What error do you get, and where in the process? What app are you using to burn the disks, and what relevant settings are you using to burn them in what format. Finally, how are you trying to boot the disks? Remove your email address if you don't like spam. You can get an awful lot of it that way.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

As I couldn't find any of my Repair Disc's recently except for the Knoppix one I reburnt F Secure, Ubuntu Remix and G Parted without a problem on the 1 June this year. I suppose I could download the newest version of Knoppix and see if that works but I don't really need to as I now have that system working. ;) Col

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Got my ISO this morning when passing distrowatch.org in the stack of daily reading.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

This is a test with no title....It would not let me post with out adding a title.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

I have used it to recover files from many a Windows and Mac PC. It boots quite faster than anything else that I have seen, and you can build your own image (puplet) with your own modifications to the software that comes with Puppy. It runs totally in RAM if you have more than 256MB RAM. It runs on anything from a Pentium MMX on up. These being the case, I often also use Puppy to revive old PCs and laptops. Rather than sending this old hardware to the landfill, it can be to some use to someone who either cannot afford, or is afraid to use today's PCs. The standard distro comes with all the software that a "normal" user would need today.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I couldn't agree more about TR's discussion platform not forcing unique discussion post titles. Luckily, we're in the process of a significant community upgrade, and I believe that is part of the spec.

seanferd
seanferd

On whether you can use a distro including something like Ophcrack to get a password. If you can crack or reset certain passwords (less likely with 3rd party encryption schemes) you can then boot the OS and let it decrypt the data normally.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I considered actually filming Dojo in our live data center, but eventually we decided against it. Would have been way too noisy, too complicated, and a huge security risk.

berberama
berberama

I'd have to agree with puchatek2 on the point of pronouncing names properly. Not pronouncing the name correctly, makes the presenter look like a dope, it also suggests a potential lack of experience and knowledge in Linux based systems - A newbie in other words. The Ubuntu site as well as countless blogs and community resources all indicate the proper pronunciation. Needless to say, it's also a matter of respect. When I pronounce a name incorrectly and someone corrects me, I'm thankful - I don't spout of a triad of insults at them. As for the outtakes, I have no idea as I've never seen them.

JCitizen
JCitizen

greatly appreciate your effort! These videos, really break the monotony.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I've never been able to post without.

Boomertechhelp
Boomertechhelp

I just sent a loaner PC with Puppy 5 with an EU while I try to revive his totally dead HD. He may never come back! :>)

JCitizen
JCitizen

like they did at ZDNet. I was quitting them anyway. But in an attempt to follow up on a few things, I found the format totally unusable. They do that here, and I'm totally outta here!

seanferd
seanferd

Both the aforementioned feature, and the upgrade process itself (if things go as they have before). You just know we'll all be here helpful suggestions. ;)

LCWhite
LCWhite

I'm so disappointed. I thought it all was real.

jgwinner
jgwinner

What would a hacker do with a picture of your data center? More likely you're outsourced :)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The original post in the branch bears no relationship to either.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Exact same sound shape across all languages and accents then perhaps? Must everyone first visit a speech trainer until they can accurately produce the sound shapes that don't exist within there own spoken language? Why then don't we all pronounce "Linux" as "Leenooks" as it's original creator pronounces it? Does the kernel suddenly function differently because we don't? 'Pronouncing the name "Windows" as "Whyn-daous" is incorrect.' 'insistence on pronouncing things their way' Are the above two points not in directly conflict? One says "pronounce the word this way because saying it with that accent is incorrect" then you turn around and say "North Americans always want things pronounced there way". I'm simply suggesting that if the person is using an honest pronunciation which you understand. Why not just continue to focus on the topic rather than how they speak? An honest but odd sounding pronunciation is fine from what I can see. It's the intentional mispronunciations like "Win-doze" and the like which should be challenged rather than simple differences in naturally spoken language. Some asks a question because they are new and don't know the answer. Someone else stands up and gives them a rundown for not pronouncing a word correctly while completely ignoring the content of the question or providing the desired information. Is that new person going to walk away thinking "well, I still don't have a clue how to fix this problem I'm having but thank goodness that kind sole took fifteen minutes to grief me over not saying the word right." (edit) I'd also add that a far worse linguistic offense is the continued desire to change the meaning of words. The mass media is a brilliant example of this; they change the meaning of a word inaccurately purely to drive sales through fear. Consider "Hacker" which correctly refers to a method of solving problems and a generally ethical subculture. A minority of ill intended people and the media only recognizes (and brainwashes the masses into recognizing) only the pejorative form. That kind of arbitrary change of meaning is far worse than any slightly different pronunciation of similar character strings.

berberama
berberama

It's called respect. Pronouncing the name "Windows" as "Whyn-daous" is incorrect. To do so, suggests I'm not familiar with the subject at hand (if for example, I were in a video discussing Windows based recovery applications). And to suggest different reasons that it would be acceptable (and continue pronouncing incorrectly) is simply disrespectful. We are in a global market, and this is one example of behaviour (insistence on pronouncing things their way) that contribute to North Americans not being more popular, as they could be. Instead of arguing or justifying, we should be cooperative, and correcting. That perspective goes a long way to improved popularity and improved business growth - On a global scale.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

is it LinUx.. LinOOx.. LinIx.. Lin'x I wouldn't get so hung up on how one pronounces Ubuntu. Like "Linux" it can change drastically from region to region. This is actually the first time I've seen "OObOOntoo" as the correct prenounciation since OObUntoo would be correct based on spelling use this side of the pond. Just be happy that it's being publicly mentioned at all.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Yes, I guess when you reply directly to the article, this is true. I so rarely do that; so mine is blank when I reply to another post; or I hit back space to get rid of the canned title. I'd use the excuse that I just got off medication, which is true, but I really am turning into a dunderhead lately! :p

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

RE: + the post title are automatically inserted into the title field.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Sorry Nick! I'm really Duh! today on that one!

Rob C
Rob C

Thanks for responding. I have just this minute (30 minutes), been Googling about it. If a newby (to Puppy) asked your advice, would you recommend Lucid or the previous Puppy version ?

Rob C
Rob C

That version appears to be "Lucid Puppy" Whereas the latest version of Puppy Linux is 4.3.1 Could you elaborate on the differences ? (I have only tried Puppy Linux)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The new ZDNet format just flat stinks.

lupin109
lupin109

1) Identify the type of server (model/even the OS if he sees the monitor clearly enough). From that he/she can look up possible exploits encountered with said software/hardware combination 2) He/she can figure out the exact location based on what is seen. It can be something as benign as a coffee mug with the company logo, and based on that with other subtle hints, like where the host is based pin point the exact geographical location (Thanks for nothing, Google Maps and it's streetview). 3) He/she could see who else is in the background and make use of social engineering to obtain other forms of information by using something as simple as visual confirmation. I hope that answers your question.