Save Your Dead PC with These Outstanding Free Recovery Tools

Sitting down, pushing the start button on your PC only to have it refuse to boot, will fit right in with anyone’s definition of frustration. It’s almost a personal thing – “why are you doing this to me?” But all is not lost.

Before you consign your dead PC to the garbage dump, or start considering just what kind of boat anchor you might craft, you should know that there are some terrific free tools that can help you recover. These free applications are at the “Top of the Class”, in my view.

I’m not suggesting that you download them all but, if you have some spare CDs – why not? Or, do a little info gathering on the author’s site – then choose those that best meet your specific needs.

If I’ve missed one of your favorites that you feel should be on this list, then let me know with your comments.

Hiren’s Boot CD


Hiren’s Boot CD is a boot CD containing various diagnostic programs such as partitioning agents, system performance benchmarks, disk cloning and imaging tools, data recovery tools, MBR tools, BIOS tools, and many others for fixing various computer problems. Downloading this application is a bit of a hassle since ownership of some of the utilities on the CD is open to interpretation.

Ultimate Boot CD for Windows


A terrific recovery CD for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing computer problems, but since it involves hands on “building skills” to compile the necessary tools, it’s not for everyone. Nevertheless, for those who have the skills, this utility is a “must have”.

Trinity Rescue Kit


Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues.

Ubuntu Live CD


Can’t boot into Windows? Can’t figure out how you’re going to rescue all that data that you can’t reach? Ubuntu Live CD can come to the rescue. Need to connect to the Internet as part of your recovery process? No problem – Ubuntu Live CD makes it easy.

Specialty Recovery Tools:

Comodo Time Machine


This innovative utility takes snapshots of your PC and archives those snapshots so that if you experience a computer problem (like a malware or virus attack), you simply revert back in time to one of the snapshots you had previously taken. In other words, if you mess up your PC and you have the Comodo Time Machine software installed, you can go back in time to restore your PC to a previous good state.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk


This rescue CD can scan your boot sector, and your Hard Drives from the outside looking in. Malware doesn’t have a chance to hide if it’s not running. It’s become the first step I now use when I’m dealing with an infected machine.

Avira AntiVir Rescue System


Avira AntiVir Rescue System is a Linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to, repair a damaged system, rescue data, scan the system for virus infections.

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Filed under Backup Tools, Comodo, computer repair, Diagnostic Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Hard Drive Tools, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

15 responses to “Save Your Dead PC with These Outstanding Free Recovery Tools

  1. Ranjan

    Hi Bill,
    Nice article.. Didn’t know about some of them.. Will check them out..
    And when it comes to disk imaging, the first and foremost app which come to my mind is the HCL EC2. Just set and forget…
    1-Click imaging and restoring feature.. As simple as that…

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  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    I had a bad experience with Comodo Time Machine some time back. But with a reformat a few months ago, I decided to give it another go. I’ve changed my mind, it’s an excellent app. Sometimes software can go awry but that sometimes means there is a problem with the computer, not the software. This is what I think happened with the bad experience.


    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Mal,

      You’re quite right. Almost always, a problem with software is system specific.

      David, one of our regular readers, just reported today that System Mechanic installed and operated perfectly on one of his machines this past weekend, but on another, it blew up completely. This is a perfect example of an existing system problem that can’t be laid at the feet of new software. You’ll see lots of bitching and whining in forums about one piece of software or another, all from so called experts, who couldn’t grab their ass with both hands. Have to admit, that sort of thing makes me laugh. 🙂



  4. Lee

    Hey Bill – I was wondering if you have any suggestions for me. My home PC has a dead CD drive and I connected a second hand one but it will not spin. The PC crashed a while back and when I boot I get this message on the blue screen of death. I know it is a hard drive issue – so after running checkdisk after connecting the hard drive to another PC (this did not resolve the issue) I formatted it! How can I put WinXP back on?:

    “A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to you computer.

    If this Is the first time you’ve seen this stop error screen, restart your computer. If this is your first time you’ve seen this stop error screen, restart your computer. If this screen appears again, follow these steps:

    Disable or unistall any anti-virus, disk defragmentation or backup utiliities. Check your hard drive configarations, and check for any udated drivers. Run CHKDSK /F to check for hard drive corruption, and then restart your computer.

    Technical information

    STOP 0x00000024 (0x00190203, 0x839D72A8, 0xc0000102, 0x00000000)”

    I have done all the Internet research on this issue and have tried what I can – am I flogging a dead horse and should I be ditching my PC?

    • Bill Mullins

      Hi Lee,

      The issue you describe, as you found out, is complicated, Unfortunately, hardware issues are often time consuming and the one thing I don’t have is – time. So, I really can’t help you with this problem.

      I know that as well as being a regular reader here, you regularly drop in on Tech Paul’s Tech for Everyone and his site, I think, is a more appropriate forum.



  5. Achugh

    Hi Bill,

    Excellent article. I have used number of these tools and found them useful. However, I got a friend’s laptop that refused to boot from floppy drive, CD-ROM, and Network boot. I tried all possibilities and it just won’t boot. This is a Compaq C300 laptop that had Windows XP installed. I believe it crashed due to virus. Now, Windows attempts to boot and then blue screen of death and then nothing works.

    I have done the hard drive consistency check and it is fine. Result was positive – no problems found.

    Any suggestions in this would be great. Thanks.


    • Bill Mullins

      Hi Achugh,

      If it is a virus that’s causing the problem, then boot up with one of the specially recovery apps mentioned in the article – Kaspersky Rescue Disk, or Avira AntiVir Rescue System. You should consider wiping the drive with free (Darik’s Boot And Nuke), and then an OS re-install.


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  7. Liam O' Moulain


    I don’t know if I have the skills but I wouldn’t mind trying one or two of these.

    What’s the worst that can happen? Don’t answer that. 🙂


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  9. Having tools available such as the Kaspersky Rescue Disk makes it much easier for users to locate Malware, and its a very easy process that will have your hard drives and boot sector scanned in no time.