CD/USB bootable tools

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This page covers useful stand-alone tools that can be booted from a CD or USB memory stick.

N.B. Initially, this may be no more than a list of headings and external links.


A sick computer may not be able to boot, and if it does, it any malware which gets itself running before your software tools can modify their behaviour to hide itself or give confusing results. Tools which boot independently of the installed operating system cat treat it purely as static data to give a completely objective view.


Bootable utilities can cause data loss if misused, or if you're seriously out of luck. Always ensure that essential data is backed up if possible before starting work, and ensure the owner understands and is content to run with the risk.

Boot managers

  • Plop is boot manager which can be useful if you can't get the BIOS to boot from USB and many other situations.

Hardware Diagnostics and Utilities

The following can be combined onto a single DOS-based memory stick or CD:

  • Spinrite (licence required)
  • MHDD
  • Gold Memory - memory tester
  • memtst - another memory tester
  • MHDD - hard disk diagnostics
  • hdderase - secure hard disk erase

(Some of these are described under Advanced hard disk tools.)

Other utilities:

  • dban - Disk Boot And Nuke - bootable hard disk secure erase
  • Clonezilla - useful for backup and cloning hard disks.
  • Light weight Linux, e.g. Puppy Linux or Linux Mint Xfce edition. Useful to have gparted installed.

Bootable Rescue/Recovery Tools

(More details on these can be found in - Windows Secrets subscription may be required.)

  • Hiren's BootCD
  • Trinity Rescue Kit - text-based, designed mainly for Windows but also including a Linux command line.
  • Ultimate BootCD - text-based, with over 100 repair/restore/diagnostic tools.
  • SystemRescueCD - Basic repair/recovery tools in a hybrid tex/graphical Linux environment.
  • Ubuntu Rescue Remix - almost entirely Linux command line based, offering a range of open source data recovery, repair and forensic tools.
  • Parted Magic - the collection of Linux programmes


  • Sophos bootable Antivirus
  • Kaspersky Rescue - linux GUI based - periodically boot it to update signatures. Also useful for examining unbootable windows system.