Never Leave Home Without Hiren’s Boot CD!

With all the freewares available out there to help with computer troubleshooting issues, it can be a hassle trying to find the right one for the job. As experienced workers will tell you, a job is a whole lot easier, no matter what it may be, if you just have access to the right tools. You could pound a nail with a book but using a hammer would most likely be easier. You could loosen a Phillips screw by using a flat-head screwdriver  but the job would be a whole lot easier if you had access to a Phillips screwdriver! Point is, choosing the right tool to do the job is very important and in many cases, can even determine the outcome of the project. If you’re the friendly neighborhood PC technician, you’ve no doubt had to troubleshoot a PC or laptop that either couldn’t boot into Windows or if it could, you couldn’t really do anything with it because it was plastered with malware.  In these situations, you would then have to boot into Safe Mode and then proceed to run your favorite utilities to fix the problem. But what happens when even booting into Safe Mode doesn’t work or you don’t have the utility you need to remedy the problem?

Creating an efficient PC troubleshooting toolkit can sometimes mean success or failure. Many a times, PC technicians download some of the most used utilities and stuff them all onto a thumb drive. When trouble calls, they simply insert the USB drive into the computer and pick the right utility to run. Whether this utility helps scan the computer for malware, performs a secure hard drive wipe to recovering data, the job’s success often relies on running the right utility. A popular toolkit that has been around for some time now is called Hiren’s BootCD (HBCD). This toolkit does the job of bunching together some of the most used freeware utilities out there so that you don’t have to manually go hunting for them when the time comes. The next time you’re out needing to troubleshoot a computer, you’ll have a peace of mind that you’ll most likely have the right tool at your disposal by simply popping in HBCD.

Hiren’s BootCD

You can download Hiren’s BootCD from here. The latest version as of this writing is 15.1. For a complete list  of the freeware utilities included with HBCD, please consult this page instead. The ISO file weighs in at around 500MB and you’ll have to burn it to a CD/DVD or to a bootable thumb drive to be able to use it on another computer. Some might wonder if HBCD is legal or not. In previous versions, HBCD included some copyrighted tools and utilities that allowed anyone to use it even if they didn’t have a license for that said product. Of course, doing so is illegal. With recent versions of HBCD, many if not most of those copyrighted software have been removed from the bundle. If you look at the list of utilities included within HBCD, the majority of them are all considered true freewares. This means anyone can use them for free and no license is required whatsoever.

Going over every single utility included within HBCD is insane and of course, I won’t be doing that here! Many of the utilities will no doubt be familiar to users who have some experience with PC troubleshooting. If some tools seem unfamiliar, I would suggest you to spend a little time researching about them so that if the time for the use of that tool arises, you’ll be prepared. Having over 100+ tools at your disposal is useless if you don’t know which one to actually use to fix the problem at hand! At the very least, familiarize yourself with one or two tools from each major troubleshooting category.

One of the cool things about using HBCD is that it doesn’t depend on the operating system currently installed on the computer. HBCD includes a neat feature called Mini Windows XP where it loads a XP-like environment completely within memory (RAM) and from there, run any of the included utilities. In the past, I’ve recommended utilities such as Puppy Linux to help you recover files from an un-bootable Windows system. However, that’s all that it was really good for unless you were well versed with using Linux itself. By using HBCD, you could do that and a whole lot more simply because of all the bundled utilities. HBCD was meant to be the Swiss-army knife of PC troubleshooting. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional computer technician or just a casual computer user. Having a copy of HBCD on hand can go a long way in helping to save the day.

Here are just some screenshots of HBCD in action:

Boot ScreenMini Windows XPMini XP ExplorerUtilities BrowserCloneDiskCCleaner

How HBCD Can Help You

I’ve always stressed the importance for users to gain some knowledge on how computers work. Especially in this day and age where electronics rule our every day lives, gaining some insight into how they work can help in many ways. My opinion is that tablet computers is a long shot away from replacing our traditional PCs and laptops especially when it comes to doing real work. Learning how to do some basic PC troubleshooting can potentially save you a lot of money considering how much nowadays a PC technician can charge. Funny thing is they’re probably using the same tools available within HBCD to do their work! In some cases, when all else fails, a computer reformat is necessary. Do you really want to spend $200+ just to have someone help you recover data when you could use HBCD to do it for free yourself and then perform a system recovery? In all likelihood, that’s what the PC technician will do anyways so why not just perform the procedure yourself? Because HBCD includes many bundled utilities, you don’t have to go software hunting. Who knows? It could be that you actually fix the problem itself with a little tinkering around.

Right now, I’m in the process of also creating a dedicated USB thumb drive to booting HBCD. I want to be prepared for whatever situation I find myself in and there were times when a malfunctioning computer would refuse to boot from the CD/DVD drive no matter what I did. From a customer’s standpoint, a technician will seem much more professional and dedicated to their job if they come to the job site prepared. Do you really want to see the technician only then to begin downloading the utilities onto your computer when they first arrive? It’s not only a waste of time but it also gives the technician a bad reputation.

From a technician’s standpoint, a copy of HBCD should follow you wherever you go. You just never know when you’ll be stuck in a situation where it could come in handy and that’s why having a copy of HBCD on a spare thumb drive is a great idea. A 1GB USB drive could be bought for less than $10. That amount of money is nothing compared to the praise and recognition you’ll receive when you find yourself using HBCD to help your boss recover his malfunctioning computer!

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