Langa Letter: A Must-Have Repair And Recovery Tool

If you ever have to recover files from an unbootable drive or try to bring a dead PC back to life, here's a free, zero-footprint tool you shouldn't be without, <B>Fred Langa</B> says.

Fred Langa, Contributor

August 4, 2005

3 Min Read

Building Your Copy Of BartPE
"Bart's PE Builder" is a wizard-type of tool that runs on Windows 2000/XP/2003 that largely automates the creation of your own bootable copy of "BartPE" (Bart Preinstalled Environment) on a CD-Rom or DVD. Bart's PE Builder provides the scripted intelligence to assemble the correct files and settings; you provide your original Windows XP (Home or Pro; SP1 or later) or Windows Server 2003 (Web/Standard/Enterprise) installation/setup CD; and the operating system files are copied from there. Bart says you also even can use a preinstalled Windows XP version (without a CD) as a source for building a copy of BartPE.

Bart has full step-by-step info on his site, along with download links and other useful tools. So if you've read this far, it's probably time for me to stop talking and to send you directly to his site: nu2.

And did I mention that BartPE, like all Bart's tools, is free?

A final thought: It's worth mentioning, as an aside, that BartPE and PE Builder are wholly separate from Microsoft's Windows Preinstallation Environment ("WinPE"). The latter is mainly a command-line-driven installation tool; Bart'sPE is mainly a graphical-interface repair/diagnostic tool.

In a way, the use of "PE" in both names is a little unfortunate because it may engender confusion in people who aren't paying attention; but the two tools are clearly different and aimed at different uses. Bart drives the point home on his site: "Using PE Builder does not grant you a license to Microsoft WinPE or to use the Windows XP or Server 2003 binaries in a manner other than stated in the End-User License Agreement included in your version of Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. Microsoft has not reviewed or tested PE Builder and does not endorse its use. Please do not contact Microsoft for support on the preinstallation environment that has been created by PE Builder! Microsoft does not provide support for PE Builder or for the preinstallation environment created by PE Builder...."

In all, I think BartPE is one of the best, if not the best, foundations for a CD-based repair/recovery toolkit I've seen to date. With native NTFS support, plus support for networking, file sharing, and Remote Desktop Connections, it's powerful and flexible, and yet the XP-derived interface makes it familiar and easy to use.

Bart accepts donations (via a PayPal button on his site) to support his work, and I've made a donation to acknowledge the value of his other tools and BartPE. If you do use his tools, I hope you'll help support his efforts. But it's a donation--no payment is necessary. Despite the high value of his work, and as I believe I've mentioned once or twice before--it's all free!

It's an outstanding tool. Highly recommended!

What's your take? Have you used BartPE or similar tools? What do you like or dislike about them? Join in the discussion!

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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