The PC Repair Toolkit in your Pocket: Boot CD on a USB Stick

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Several times I’ve been called upon at a moment’s notice to troubleshoot a misbehaving PC system either at work or at a friend’s or relative’s home. Being the “go to” guy for these sorts of problems is both a curse and a blessing, but I guess that is besides the point.

One tool that I have found to be valuable beyond compare is the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD). This compilation of software has just about everything you need to diagnose hard to find low level problems, and also some other tools that every PC technician should have available.

It has been around for a long time, but I still know a lot of techs who don’t know about it. Ultimate Boot CD includes memory checkers, CPU stress testers, system information tools, boot managers and tools for hard drives, partitions, password resets, and more. For a full list, check out the UBCD page.

Typically, this is burned onto an ISO and you boot using a CD. But isn’t that so “last year”? Putting it onto a USB Drive makes it much more portable and it can sit side by side with your other portable tech tools.

The directions on how to do this are courtesy of pendrivelinux:

  1. Download the Ultimate Boot CD iso file and place it into its own directory
  2. Download the UBCDfix.exe file and run it, extracting into the above folder
  3. From this folder click fixubcd.bat and follow the instructions
  4. Move the contents of the /dir/USBUBCD folder to your USB drive
  5. From your USB drive, run makeboot.bat to make it bootable

That’s it! You now have a bootable USB drive. Any machine you wish to boot with this drive must be set to boot from USB, so this might mean a trip into the boot menu.

After booting from the drive you’ll see the UBCD menu:

Boot CD on a USB Stick

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Some great things I’ve used the UBCD to do:

  • Fixing a system whose boot loader did not install correctly
  • Run Darik’s Boot and Nuke to wipe a system before recycling it
  • Fixed a tricky system freezing problem that was caused by a bad stick of ram
  • Run OEM HD tools to confirm a hard drive was indeed malfunctioning

So give it a shot if you are the type of person who is always called upon to fix people’s PCs!

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Comments (14)
  • Windows XP registry cleaners

    Thanks for this – I really like making my PC boot up with the USB and have been looking for a tutorial like this for a long time.

  • karlyn

    my problem is i have a dell c400 (no internal cd drive) running xp. last year something happened & now it just goes to black screen when trying to boot (won’t even let me get into safe mode).

    since xp won’t let me use usb for booting (making external cd drive unable to use), how can i repair?

    i tried using usb cable to sata/ide to my other laptop & running xp installation to repair, but windows said it can’t load to drives attached via usb.

    i thought i saw a tool on makeuseof last year that made xp support usb booting, but i can’t find the article anymore…PLEASE HELP! (thank you)

  • Computerden

    quite practical

  • Michael

    I love that you can put it on a thumb drive but unfortunately I have a lot of friends and family members with older computers that may be a little tough to get booting from a USB drive, the bootable CD is a great universal tool and although having it on a thumb drive may be handy having it on a CD is absolutely crucial.

  • oldhick

    This is pretty old news but not bad. Unfortunately, the one time I could have used this to be helpful, the PC’s BIOS wasn’t capable of booting from Linux.
    But you can have some fun stealing passwords with this and wreaking havoc.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.