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Save your Data When XP Crashes: Create the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 11/3/2010

There are plenty of reasons why your Windows XP based PC may fail to start. You need the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk to repair your PC and to access your data. Instead of using the conventional method, learn to create a rescue disk that operates in the easy to use Windows Environment, with more

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    Windows XP Disaster Management: An Introduction

    For everything in life, there should be some sort of Disaster Management. It is wise to be prepared for any unforeseen event. This also applies to your PC running on Windows XP. There are many reasons why a Windows Operating system may fail. Some of the reasons are corrupt system files, a corrupt Hard Disk, virus, or an unusable system registry.

    Be prepared to counter such an event before the disaster strikes and you lose valuable data on your PC. One option available is to backup important data regularly to some remote location. However, to access this backup, you need to be able to turn your PC on (in other words, boot your PC). Until and unless your PC can read a CD/DVD, you cannot access the backups you created.

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    Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk: How it Helps you Save your Data

    The best method for Windows XP disaster management is to create a Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk. The disk allows you to boot your PC, thereby permitting you to access your antivirus software, registry restore, etc. to fix the issue that led to the crash. You may even format the disk if you have the data on some remote place. Once formatted, your HDD is fresh. You can restore the data you backed up and continue working.

    If you did not backup your data, you can still boot your PC using the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk and access your HDD. Once you access your HDD, you can use System Restore to rollback the event that led to system crash. In case you are not able to access System Restore, you can get to the last options that worked using the CD. This will get your system running without you having to lose any data on your Hard Disk. You may however, lose some programs that you can install later.

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    Custom Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk | Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk WizardsWhile there is a provision in the Windows to create an Emergency Disk, most of such disks fail to provide us with access to the NTFS partitions of Windows XP. It is therefore recommended that you create a Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk using some third party software. Such Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disks help you access all the partitions, irrespective of their formats. This in turn helps you better troubleshoot Windows XP.
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    Why Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk Created with Windows Wizards Fail

    In the past, it was easy to create a rescue disk. On DOS environment, you simply typed in the command to transfer the three basic files to a three-and-half-inch floppy. This CD was then used to boot your computer providing access to several utilities that helped you access your HDD to repair it.

    Until Windows 2000, the procedure of creating the Emergency Rescue Disk was easy with the simple GUI wizard that helped you to create a good Emergency Rescue Disk. However, this process will not work on systems that use Windows XP. The Emergency Rescue Disks created by the previous versions of the operating system offer support to FAT and FAT32 file systems, while most of the Windows XP based PCs come with the NTFS partitions. These partitions are not recognized by the normal Emergency Rescue Disks created by Windows, as they too are DOS based. Under such circumstances, the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disks created with Windows are of no use.

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    Creating a Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk using BartPE

    To create a Windows XP Emergency that is easy to use, you need to have an emergency rescue disk that offers you the Windows environment (unless you have good command over the DOS commands).

    Requirements to Create the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk using a Third Party Software

    Before we set out to create Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk, we need the following:

    1. The most basic thing we require is the Windows XP Setup CD, preferably with Service Pack 2. If you do not have the XP CD, you can use a remote location where you have the I386 folder installed. You may also copy the I386 folder from C:\Windows to a Flash Drive.

    2. We will also need two third party applications. The first is the BartPE Builder, which is free to download here. This software contains all the essentials that help you with basic Windows XP files you need to a bootable CD. Once you download it, store it in a safe place. In addition to the BartPE Builder, we will also need XPE. XPE is helpful in creating the Windows environment. This software can be downloaded free of cost here.

    3. Finally, we need a fresh CD that we will use to create the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk.

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    Creating Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk using BartPECreating Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk using BartPE is easy. BartPE contains several utilities that help in Windows XP troubleshooting. Creating Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk just needs you to have the Windows XP SP2 installation CD. You get the BartPE bootable rescue disk as a disk image that you can burn to a CD anytime.
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    Steps to Create the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk

    1. Copy the contents of the Windows XP SP 2 to a local folder on the HDD and name it something that you can remember, for instance, “rescue1.”

    2. Create another folder on the HDD and name it “BartPE.” Double click on the BartPE Builder file you downloaded. Copy all the extracted files into the “BartPE” folder.

    3. Look for the directory named “Plugin” in the “BartPE” folder. In this folder, create another folder and name it “xpe.”

    4. Extract all files from XPE and copy them to the “xpe” folder located inside the “Plugin” folder.

    5. Click the Up Arrow in Windows Explorer to select the “BartPE” folder. In the folder, look for the file named PEBuilder.exe. The file has a red icon with the letters PE. Double Click the file to execute it.

    6. Once the file starts running, you will be presented with the terms and conditions that you need to accept to continue further.

    7. As the process of creation of the rescue disk proceeds further, you are prompted if the windows installation files are to be located automatically. As you have already copied the Windows XP SP2 CD to the local HDD in the step 1, you can specify the location to save time.

    8. Now, we are all set to create the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk. In the Media output section, select “Burn to DVD/CD.”

    9. Before we burn the CD, we need to select the essential components. Most of them are automatically included by XPE. For others, you need to decide whether or not to use them. You are presented with a list of plugins from which you can select the ones you need. Unselect the following plugins as they can cause problems:

    a. A43 File Management

    b. Barts’ Stuff test

    c. BartPE Installer

    d. Drive Snapshot

    e. Nu2Shell

    f. PENETCFG (these are already included with the XPE)

    g. Startup Group is also included in the XPE so we do not need it.

    h. INCLUDE the RpcSS, as it is required to start some of the essential components of the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk.

    10. Click the Done button.

    11. Put the blank DVD into the DVD drive and click the Build button. Follow the onscreen instructions. When the operation is complete, the software shows a message that the Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk is ready.

    You can put the CD in the Drive and reboot to check if the boot CD is working. Please note that the boot sequence will be slightly slower as you are booting from the CD. You will find that the CD hosts an environment identical to the Windows XP. The Windows XP Emergency Rescue Disk created using this method is much more powerful as compared to the one created using the standard Windows Rescue Disk Wizard. You do not miss any partition when you use this. Almost all of the basic utilities are included in the CD.

    For more helpful Windows tutorials, check out the Bright Hub articles Troubleshooting Windows Explorer and Windows XP Fails to Boot Following Windows 7 Install.