If you've ever been confronted with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), you're a Windows user who has felt his heart drop.

Often, in fact, most often, Windows will boot up after all this.

But sometimes it won't.

Take my father-in-law's computer. A Dell Dimension, it's a nearly 4 years old, with never an issue besides the normal Windows maladies like spyware and viruses (UGH!), it finally got so infected (it had a good anti-virus program but it wasn't running - go figure) that it just gave up, like an old lion.

Of course, after 4 years, there's quite a bit of data on a PC, but of course, there were no backups. Whatever happened to people backing stuff up? Backing up used to be much more prevalent when backing up was so darned inconvenient (floppies or Zip drives, anyone?).

Anyway, I told him I'd try to get his data and restore his system (Windows repair utilities did not work). I couldn't get anything to work that was Windows based, even DOS-based utilities.

Before I finally giving up, I tried one last thing: A Knoppix Live CD. These are CD or DVDs that have a live OS on them. Boot up using the CD or DVD and you've got a fully-functional OS on which to perform any data recovery that may be possible.

To make a long story short, I was able to save all the data to a flash drive, reboot, and restore using the built-in PC Restore partition that Dell so smartly included.

It really was a 30 minute affair (with 25 minutes for the data copy).

If you want more helpful computer advice, visit my main site, Computer Monkeys.

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