The name "Bart Lagerweij" is well-known among a certain subset of geekdom: He's a very talented programmer who's been developing outstanding free repair and recovery tools for Windows for many years. We've covered many of his tools in past issues of my newsletter.
The newest version of his latest, greatest free tool deserves special attention: It's a self-contained, CD-based "live" copy of Windows XP. Like the popular "live CD" versions of Linux that can run entirely from a CD-ROM without installing anything, on to making any changes to a system's hard drive, "BartPE" (Bart's Preinstalled Environment) gives you a version of XP that you can boot and run on just about any PC without altering anything on the system itself.
The CD-based version is self-contained--you can think of it as a zero-footprint installation of XP--and yet is, as Bart says, "...a complete Win32 environment with network support, a graphical user interface (800x600), and FAT/NTFS/CDFS file system support. Very handy for burn-in testing systems with no operating system, rescuing files to a network share, virus scan, and so on. This will replace any DOS bootdisk in no time!"
This means that if your PC won't boot from its hard drive for some reason, you can use a BartPE CD to start the system, grab files off the hard drive (even if the drive is formatted in NTFS), ship the files to another PC on the network for safekeeping, and then use the tools either on the CD or on the hard drive to affect recovery or repair of the damaged system.
BartPE lets you start or stop file sharing on the PC you're working on; set or reset the Admin password; or even invoke XP's powerful "Remote Desktop Connection" facility. Combined, these abilities facilitate moving files to or from a distant PC, or using repair and recovery tools located on another system.
And did I mention that BartPE is free?
Bart describes some of the additional functions this way, in his usually enthusiastic style:
Goodbye to all the good and bad dos-based NTFS utilities! Now we can boot from a CD-Rom and have full read/write access to NTFS volumes!
Here are a few things that are possible with PE, and are not possible with any type of dos-based boot disk, even when using network support and ntfsdos:
- Accessing very large (>2TB) NTFS volumes or accessing volumes that aren't seen by the BIOS, like some Fibre Channel disks.
- Very reliable scanning and cleaning of viruses on NTFS volumes using a "clean boot".
- Active Directory support.
- Have remote control over other machines, using VNC or remote desktop.
And more... all free!
Later, we'll talk about how to download the tools to build your own copy of BartPE, but first, let's take a look at the tool in operation: