Create a Parted Magic Boot Disk
"Create a Parted Magic Boot Disk" describes a free tool users can use to change, delete, or add partitions to their PC's hard drive. The Parted Magic Boot Disk also has other tools that are beneficial and easy to use, which alone make the disk worth having. Instructions on how to obtain the Parted Magic Boot disk download are included, as well as instructions on burning the ISO image to a CD/DVD optical disk.
Parted Magic is a wonderful free tool you can use to change, delete, or add partitions on your hard drive. But don't let the name fool you. Parted Magic offers several tools that are of great benefit to users wanting to troubleshoot problem areas in their computer. You can see what Parted Magic is all about by going to their web site.
The first page provides a summary of the things Parted Magic is capable of doing. On the left side of the page are two headings, Navigation and Documentation. Under the Navigation heading you can elect to jump to the download page, or check out the screenshots among other things. The screenshots page will make it all more understandable as we highlight just a couple of the tools you can use to copy files and validate the memory on your PC.
While the Parted Magic Boot Disk can help you manage partitions on your hard drives, most everyday users tend to have little interest in disk partitioning, and that is completely understandable. However, there is one tool that will be of great benefit to you in the right circumstances. That tool provides the ability to access the files on your hard drive's NTFS formatted partitions. NTFS is the file system used in Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. You may ask yourself "why should I want to access my files from the Parted Magic Boot Disk? Windows Explorer is all I really need." That, of course is true, unless for some reason Windows refuses to boot, (and oops, you did not save copies of your files somewhere else) and you need an easy way to copy all your files to another disk, such as a USB external hard drive or memory stick.
After you download the Parted Magic Boot Disk ISO file, you can burn it by right clicking the ISO file and selecting to Burn Disc Image if you use Windows 7. If you run XP or Vista, download and install the free ImgBurn,right click the ISO file and select Open with and choose ImgBurn.
To run the Parted Magic Book Disk, make sure your BIOS (acronym for Basic Input/Output System - aka Setup) boot priority setting allows your CD/DVD drive to be checked for boot files before Setup looks at your hard drive. The key you press to enter the BIOS varies with each PC manufacturer, but it is normally F2, Del, or F1. You will see the prompt identifying the key to press as soon as you power on your PC. When you are in the BIOS or Setup, look for a category named Boot Priority, and move the CD/DVD drive to the top of the list if it is not already there. Then save and exit. If you have placed your Parted Magic CD in the drive, your computer will boot to it rather than into Windows.
After some files load into memory, you will see a Menu appear on the screen (go to the Screenshots page on their web site). Use your arrow key to move down to the Extras Menu. One option you will see there is Memtest+. Memtest + will test your memory (or RAM sticks) in your PC for faulty addresses. If your computer is behaving flaky, one of the possibilities is a bad stick of RAM. It does not happen often, but with Memtest + it is an easy way to confirm your RAM is not the source of the problem and only costs you a little time. Unless Memtest+ immediately finds errors in your RAM, it may be best to allow the test to run all night while you are hopefully catching some sleep. I just wanted you to know where Memtest+ is located in case you need to run it someday.
After exiting the Extras Menu, navigate back up to option "1. Default settings (Runs from RAM)". This option uses a portion of you main memory as a virtual disk so Parted Magic loads into your RAM and runs directly from memory. Your physical hard disk inside your computer is not used in running Parted Magic. When Parted Magic has finished loading, you will see the Desktop screen just like the one in the Screenshots page on their web site. To start the file manager, click the start menu, which is the round icon that looks like a disk platter on the bottom left of your taskbar. Note how this resembles the Start orb on Vista and Windows 7. Next, on the System Tools menu click PC Man File Manager. Be sure to plug your USB external hard drive or your USB memory stick into a port on your PC and notice as PCMan File Manager detects and mounts the USB drive. Click on the hard drive partitions on the tree pane (left) of the file manager until you see your data files in the details pane on your Windows PC. You can then begin copying your files to recover them to your USB disk or thumb drive. That's all there is to it.
There are many more tools available, and I encourage you to explore Parted Magic and the documentation on their web site as much as your interest allows.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the ability to copy your files from a problematic Windows disk will be useful? Your comments are very welcome.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 9, '15
CaptainPC has been hanging around computers since 1982, when audio cassette tapes were common storage media in home computing. He is the Administrator of his church network, and holds Comptia's A Plus Certification for PC Hardware Maintenance & Repair, as well as Comptia's Network Plus certification in general networking. The Captain spends his time maintaining computers and cleaning malware infections. He also currently serves as an Administrator on Windows Secrets Lounge Forums.
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