UBCD: the “ultimate” recovery CD


UltimatebootcdAs a mobile device user, I always dread the potential situation of having current computer completely crap out while I’m out and about. It’s actually a scenario that I’m not very well equipped for as I tend to reclaim recovery partitions for needed space as a rule. I had a USB drive with some partition tools and other utilities, but that got lost in the shuffle somewhere, so as of now, I’d be up the creek.

The How-To Geek offers a great overview of one solution to this problem by using UBCD for Windows, which stands for the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows. With this free tool based on Bart PE and many other useful utilities, you can get yourself out of a potential jam for an XP device. Apparently, some of the tools work with Vista as well, so I’ll be grabbing a copy to have a closer inspection. The approach utilizes a CD for boot-up, but I don’t often carry my optical drive with me, so I’ll be digging around in the near future for some additional new solutions using either SD cards or USB drives.

Got a good solution to recommend? Are you carrying it around with you all the time?


Jay Harper

Oh man, for years, I’ve been using a barrage of items:

– BartPE: I have a custom build with over 100 plug-ins of many commercial (legally owned, mind you) apps: Acronis, Ad-Adware 2008 Pro, GetDataBack, the entire O&O suite and more

– Super Windows 2005 All-in-On: A multi-boot menu with all Windows installs from 98 up through XP TPCE, Bart PE Super Horsepower, Winternals ERD 2005 and a host of commercial apps. This isn’t necessarily fully legitimate, admittedly. It was given to me by a friend

– UBCDWin, same as BartPE with tons more functionality

– Super UBCD + BartPE combination that fits on one CD

Both BartPE and UBCDWin are on two USB sticks along with a few other items. I have a multi-boot menu to install XP SP3 if need be.

Acronis and O&O have been my most powerful apps in recovering and archiving data from dead PCs. Ad-Aware 2008, HijackThis, CWCleaner, Spybot, VundoTools and some other apps have been awesome BartPE/WinPE environment apps to kill all the nasties that hurt people

If anyone’s interested in more, let me now. The Super Windows 2005 AIO ISO is out there in the wild. At a minimum, trial it, and you probably won’t turn back, especially when you know how easy it is to extract and update it.

All the best!
Jay – [jay] (harper) [gmail] (com)


Boot CD’s/DVD’s are great, assuming you travel everywhere with those round things protected in some sort of wallet, and assuming that your laptop has an optical drive, or carry one separate. If neither applies to your mobile work situation, however, your options are going to be limited.

HOW MUCH data you will need to get recovered may also determine the backup method you choose.

Every laptop (most I should say) come with a restore DVD. Others only come configured with a restore partition. The problem with the latter is that it won’t help you if your hard drive crashes and takes your backed-up data with it, although most laptop makers will ship a restore disc to you as an option.

The other issue with laptops especially is that the manufacturers don’t supply a windows install disc like what you would get if you buy windows itself. It doesn’t run the windows installer when you boot with it, rather it will launch just a restore application, with the disc itself containing only a compressed drive image copy of what was installed at the factory. This has implications if you’re trying to use backup software that expects you to have a “regular” windows install disc at hand, (i386 folder sound familiar?) and instead you have just a DVD with a huge image file written on it.

Norton Ghost has it’s own quirks, as it will work perfectly well on some systems and not at all on others. On the laptops I have used, it has never once worked.

The solution I have found is to use third-party backup software that supports bare-metal backups/restores with external hard drives and creates disaster recovery discs (CD, not floppy) without requiring a windows install disc.

My routine is to first install my backup program, then make a DVD+R DL backup of the factory partition before I have installed any other software or added files. That way I have a “shipped-from-factory” backup I can turn to if the drive ever dies, I lose the factory restore disc, I decide to install a bigger drive, or a registry/malware issue corrupts the factory install.

My next step is to create a disaster recovery CD. This will let me start the laptop and access my backups on DVD or external hard drive. What good is recovery software that only works in Windows if one day you turn your laptop on and Windows won’t start?

Third, I’ll create a full-system backup onto a dedicated external hard drive AFTER I’ve installed all my software, added my files and configured my settings. The big advantages of using an external hard drive for this is that they are fast, have storage capacity for saving multiple backups, backups can be performed unattended (laptop drives can take HOURS to move their full capacity), don’t require you to have an optical drive around or sit there shuffling discs (think about that when you have 30GB-80GB to back up), and can connect to whatever interface your unit has (Firewire, USB, eSata, PCMCIA). Incremental backups can be done daily and full backups weekly, so if I ever need to restore, I can be back up where I left off in minutes. And since it’s a dedicated external drive, it’s unplugged, turned off and kept somewhere safe when not in use.

BTW: The software I use is Dantz Retrospect. It supports external DVD/HDD drives, tape drives, creates recovery CD’s, schedules backups, can compress/encrypt/split images and even backs up files in Windows that are open/in-use. The product performs flawlessly, is updated continuously and has very solid support. One of the best backup/recovery programs I have ever used.

Terry Gho

I have with me a bootable 512MB flash drive with FDISK, FORMAT, and Dos version of Norton Ghost. I have set up the P1610 with 2 partitions “C” being the primary (10GB) where all the programs go and “D” being the secondary where all data is stored and the root directory contains a single Ghost image.

If for any reason my P1610 plays up, catches a virus, etc. I just whip out the bootable flash drive and in less than 10 mins I have a fresh install of XP with all the programs already configured. I have not lost any data as even the IE7 favorites are stored and linked to the secondary partition.


Please let us know how it works. I have tried to figure out how to clone my XP install on my Eee PC 1000H in case something happens or if I decide top install a bigger HDD. I have a recovery disc but would hate to have to reinstall everything and tweak it to my liking.

Jordan Running

I love UBCD. I use it on a 1GB USB drive. It’s great because you can toss other tools on there and then launch them from the UBCD menu. The UBCD forums have tips on how to add stuff like GParted, which I’ve found invaluable.


The latest version of UBCD actually includes a script that will transfer everything over to a bootable USB stick.

That is the standard Linux-based version, though, rather than the Windows version. I’m not sure if you can use the Windows version off of a USB drive.

Hong Cho

I use SystemRescueCD (www.sysresscd.org). It’s Linux tools, though. They have a guide on how to install it on a USB stick.


I’ll second Ken’s remarks. I have been using the UBCD for a few years now and it works like a charm.


I have this, and it is great.
I cannot recall exactly where I found this, but the place I found it has you built the CD yourself, and you use your windows XP install disk to create it; so that you are booting with your licenses copy of windows xp.

I haven’t had much of a need for this, but I used this to create a image backup of my HD when I installed fresh.
(I think it included a couple of utilities to do that.)

Great tool.


I carry a thumbdrive with BartPE on it. It came in handy after my fujitsu’s boot loader was corrupted. Everyone should have a copy of UBCD somewhere just in case.

Comments are closed.