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It will be difficult that your Windows personal computer has not suffered different malfunctions at the software level. Last week we talked about System Restore as a good way to get ahead of system errors and today we are going to review tools like Windows PE that go beyond a simple restoration and are very useful to avoid a complete format and installation from scratch with the consequent loss of data if we do not have backup copies or worse, a trip to a repair shop that will waste time and money.
External recovery media are ideal for identifying, isolating, and troubleshooting operating systems and / or applications. Interestingly, although we are talking about troubleshooting in Windows, most of them use a Linux environment (Live CD-Live USB) as we saw in this rescue disc special. But there are also Windows-based solutions like this PE (Windows Reinstallation Environment).
Five Windows Rescue Disks
This is a lightweight version of Windows 10, which you can use to install, test, and repair a full system installation. A Windows PE-based recovery disk expands its functionalities, adding free and open source tools specially designed to recover, restore or analyse to prevent problems on your Windows machine.
Although Windows PE is a fully operational version of Windows 10, it cannot be used as a daily operating system. Microsoft avoids using Windows PE as a normal operating system with an automatic restart after 72 hours of continuous use and in a period that cannot be configured. Also, when a Windows PE recovery environment is established, any jobs or programs are permanently destroyed.
However it is ideal as a rescue disk. A dmite all applications, drivers, network tools, partitions, administrators, virtualiser Hyper-V and other characteristics of the system. To all of them you can add free and open source tools for maintenance and troubleshooting. They can also and often include security solutions against malware.
Although you can create your own Windows PE solution as we will see below, there are free pre-built solutions that save a few steps. Five of the ones we like are:
– Hiren’s BootCD PE.
A legendary all-in-one rescue disk packed with tools to help the user recover from operating system failures, malware, password recovery, account management, and more. Although the original Hiren’s BootCD was a Linux environment it stopped receiving updates years ago and in 2018 it was revitalized as a Windows PE rescue disk. It features tons of free and open source tools within a familiar Windows 10 environment.
An environment very similar to the Windows desktop
– Bob.Omb’s Modified Win10PEx64. Another modified Windows PE environment with a long list of tools for analysis and recovery, against infections with Malwarebytes Antimalware or for data recovery with EaseUS Data Recovery. Unlike other rescue discs, it includes various ransomware “decryptors”, which can scan the system for this type of malware, remove it and restore encrypted files as long as it is available, since many types of Ransomware have not been decrypted.
– Kyhi’s Recovery Drive. It is one of the most powerful against failures in Windows, disk and partition repair, backup and recovery, although it has antivirus, administration tools and many others. The developer has stopped updating it, but older versions can still be used.
– Gandalf’s Windows 10PE x64. Surely the most complete of these environments by adding 200 tools. There is a bit of everything, hardware and software diagnostics, backup programs, anti-malware applications, network analysis, and much more. It also stands out for its updates, every few months.
The number of tools is impressive
– Sergei Streclec’s WinPE. From Russia comes this solution that, like the previous ones, includes a large number of Windows maintenance and recovery applications, but stands out for its organization. All the tools are organized into practical categories that help you find what you need.
How are these environments created and operated?
The creation of the previous solutions is as simple as downloading the image and burning it to a DVD (they usually take up more space than what a CD allows) or much better to burn the image on a safer USB flash drive and with better performance than optical media. whose support is disappearing from many new equipment.
For recording, you can use your favorite application. You know that here we have a predilection for the fireproof Rufus. You can check our practical to create this type of external drives.
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Its operation is the same as any rescue medium or bootable antivirus. They work independently of the Windows operating system installed on the system and hence their ability to know, isolate or solve problems. It is the only way to do it for example with some types of viruses that load / hide in memory.
The five solutions listed work well, include a ton of tools, and make it easy to create these Windows PE environments. But they do not allow customization of the applications to be included in the medium. If you want to create a solution perfectly tailored to your needs, you can also do it from scratch.
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For these cases it is best to use Win10XPE, a complete Windows PE environment developed by the renowned customizer ChrisR. The project provides a good foundation for building such an environment using a copy of Windows 10. It supports 32-bit and 64-bit architectures, has a wide range of core Windows features, plus you can add a variety of custom applications..
You also need an ISO image of Windows 10 that you can download from the official website, mounting the image and creating the medium by adding the applications you need from a long list. You can go over this special article with the whole process in case you need it.
Keep them handy because these Windows PE external media are very useful for maintenance and repairs. They make it possible to identify, isolate and fix errors in operating systems and / or applications and also act against malware as a bootable all-in-one. And all this in an environment in which all Windows users will feel comfortable since it is not very different from the desktop version.