Winternals' ERD Commander 2005 also supports accessing the tool's recovery utilities remotely. When the Winternals environment boots, select Run Remote Recover Client on the target system to provide an administrator with access to the ERD Commander 2005 toolset over a network. Here the default setting is selected enabling a technician or support professional to interact with a system locallySystem tools
A host of system tools are available, too, many with wizards that walk technicians through troubleshooting inoperative PCs and servers.
Crash Analyzer works with Microsoft's Debugging Tools for Windows (which must be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site) to analyze system crash dumps. The resulting information helps isolate the cause of crashes, thereby guiding administrator's recovery efforts.
Disk Commander helps recover files that have been lost as a result of everything from file system errors to inadvertent partitioning and formatting. File Restore is similar, except it works to recover files that were deleted and emptied from the Recycle Bin. Incidentally, Disk Commander, too, can be used to recover files that have been inadvertently deleted. In larger organizations, where users often discard important documents and empty the Windows Recycle Bin, such file recovery tools are a necessity.
Most everyone's familiar, now, with horror stories of discarded PCs and servers leaking confidential information. Remembering to properly delete sensitive data before discarding used equipment can be tough, but ERD Commander 2005's Disk Wipe makes easy work of actually wiping hard disks. Administrators can elect to complete a simple pass overwrite or opt for a four-pass deletion that meets US Department of Defense 5220.22-M security requirements.
Other features ERD Commander 2005 offers include a console for command line administration, the ability to uninstall hotfixes selectively, a Locksmith feature enabling Administrator passwords to be reset (helpful when users forget their system passwords or an administrator leaves without divulging passwords to his or her replacement), File System Repair (for automatically discovering and repairing corrupted Windows system files) and System Restore, which provides access to the Restore Point Wizard.
ERD Commander 2005 includes Mozilla Firefox (version 1.0) for Internet browsing from within the limited Winternals operating environment (which comes in handy when needing to search the Web for specific drivers or updates), along with Notepad, Search and a Solution Wizard designed to help guide support professionals through a myriad number of solutions that can be used to recover a failed system.
Creating the ERD Commander boot CD
Creating the ERD Commander Boot CD itself is a relatively simple proposition. Using the Winternals Administrator's Pak, select the ERD Commander 2005 Boot CD Wizard (accessed by clicking Start | Programs | Winternals Administrator's Pak on the system where the Administrator's Pak is installed). The wizard walks technicians through the process of creating the CD image. Technicians must specify the location of any required mass storage drivers to be included. They must also note which tools should be included on the CD image the wizard creates.
In addition, whichever staff member builds the CD must specify whether the CD should support Remote Recover, which enables accessing an ERD Commander 2005 CD-equipped system over a network for remote troubleshooting and repair. When using Remote Recover, ensure firewalls are set to pass port 18002 traffic, as this is the default UDP port ERD Commander 2005 uses to communicate over a network.
Once the wizard completes it creates an ISO image in the location the technician specifies. The wizard can burn the ISO image to a CD, or you can elect to burn the CD yourself using your own preferred CD creation software.
In the event a server or PC encounters trouble before you have an opportunity to create a bootable CD for it, you can also use the Administrator's Pak OEM CD to boot ERD Commander 2005. Note that, should you do so, you may not have access to mass storage drivers required to access a system's hard drives.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.