Which is the best Linux distribution for troubleshooting Windows PCs?
Question by Henree Arriola de Garcia /

What would be the best Linux distro for those who want to troubleshoot a Windows computer? I would like be able to retrieve data, reset passwords and so on.

I have software for the above, but would like to just have everything inside a bootable CD. Currently using Backtrack, but I don’t know if it’s the best for fixing anything.

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Answers (11)
  • Mike Pullen

    For hardware issues, UBCD has the most comprehensive set of tools I’ve found. PartedMagic, OTOH, has tools to solve virtually every file-type problem I’ve ever encountered on a Windows hard drive– partitioning (using gparted), data recovery (using dd-rescue or photorec as appropriate), backups (using rsync to another hard drive or another machine), password fixes (with chntpw).

    UBCD includes PartedMagic– so for a single ISO thumbdrive, in my book it’s UBCD for a win…

  • James Graham

    I’m going to agree with Mike and Richard and go with a multi-boot.

    I picked up an 8GB USB stick and used YUMI ( http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/ ) to load up a multitude of options. I have Lubuntu, Porteous, and Knoppix as my Linux distros, then use Hiran’s Boot CD/ Deft 7/UBCD/Tinity/Ophcrack/NT Editor for all round utils, Kaperski and Bitdefender for Anti-virus, and Clonezilla/ Gparted/PING for working with drives….and good old memtest.

  • RADHelpDesk

    Oh, you’re already ON a mac. Welcome to failure, LOL

  • RADHelpDesk

    You obviously don’t know anything about Linux, and certainly have no CLUE what BT is used for.

    Here’s how to fix your issues: Buy a Mac. They’re made for illiterate people, such as yourself.

    • Bill Campbell

      People like you are what make working in IT dificult. The person asked a civil question looking for help from people who have knowledge he lacks. Your snotty, rude and insensitive attitude were absolutely useless and obviously done to boost your own pathetic self esteem.

      FYI – I have been in IT doing customer support for 16 years. The types of folks who talk to people like you did do not end up in any kind of good job.

      I also find it interesting that you commented using something than your given name. Ashamed of what you said and decided to hide behind anonymity?

  • FIDELIS

    Hello, in my opinion there is nothing better than KNOPPIX:

    http://knoppix.net/get.php

  • Jimbo99

    Personally I know none that allow you to do both change passwords and access data. Most of the password changers are boot discs that then can open the necessary files and allow you to change, or in some cases to do a dictionary attack on the accounts on the box. I usually find that just removing the password is the easiest.

    As far as retrieving data or running virus scans, just about any distribution will do it.

  • Richard Carpenter

    I use Hirens BootCD. It is not really a linux distro, more like a all in one toolkit. It is the best I have used, and has really has just about everything you would need to. It has A/V Tools (Just about everything useful, MBAM, ComboFix, Remove Fake AV, SAS…) Backup and Imaging utilities, Bios tools, Cleaning tools, Driver tools,NT offline password changer, and on and on…. even has as Linux and XP environments that be booted into

    http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/

  • Mike

    Instead of a single Linux distro I would rather go for a multi-boot CD – there are a lot of ready to use tools and system which are better and/or easier than using a basic linux live CD.

    For example the most reliable tool to reset passwords is Offline NT Password
    http://home.eunet.no/pnordahl/ntpasswd/

    For all hard disk related things I prefer Parted Magic, it also comes with TestDisk so recovering files and partitions is possible too.
    http://partedmagic.com/

    Next to those two it might be handy to have BartPE Live CD to work with the registry and maybe proprietary Windows tools.
    http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/

    Memtest86, always good to have
    http://www.memtest86.com/

    some Anti-Virus Live CDs
    http://www.avira.com/en/download/product/avira-antivir-rescue-system
    http://download.bitdefender.com/rescue_cd/

    That could be your basic tool set. In addition it might be helpful to create a USB drive with the same contents ~ I carry one around all the time.

  • Aruzmeister

    ya you can use the two os like ubuntu live ones or use bactrack.In this case boot computer by live boot unbuntu and you can crack system password and any thing see hidden content

  • Bruce Epper

    Backtrack was designed from the outset to be a pentesting tool. For the most part, that makes it somewhat inefficient when you want to simply fix a Windows box. I use Hiren’s Boot CD, UBCD, and discs that I create with UBCD4Win. LiveCDs from general distros that I have used include KNOPPIX, Ubuntu in a pinch, and Fedora.

    The advantage with the discs that I create with UBCD4Win is that it also contains a long list of .reg files that I can use to fix common problems in the registry. I don’t rely on that as much now since I carry those files around on a read-only USB drive now.