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What are the essential tools you always have handy when attempting to fix someone's PC?

What tools (software or hardware) have you found indispensable for recovering a failing PC? What have you used in the past that has saved your bacon? I'd like to know what else I can add to my arsenal.

I have a few such as SpinRite and Ultimate BootCD.

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marked as duplicate by Nifle, Renan, Randolph West, 8088, Daniel Beck Aug 11 '12 at 5:37

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Some kind of Linux boot disk, with gparted, gpart and gnu ddrescue is invaluable. Some of the forensics tools for file carving can be good as a last resort. GetDataBack is very good as well. You might also want to keep copies of a few basic system files, like userinit.exe and ntldr, for when they get corrupted.

A couple of Windows install disks, for repairing installations of the different versions you support can be helpful. The System Rescue CD is also very good, it's got a load of useful Linux tools bundled into it.

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+1 for GetDataBack. I haven't heard of that one. –  Jay Atkinson Jul 17 '09 at 21:06

Linux live cd - i've used couple of times to confirm the hardware failures. Also it identified a corrupted NTFS drive which I couldn't do it using windows.

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+1 - for simplicity –  Jay Atkinson Jul 17 '09 at 21:07

SysClone - some gentle soul combined the legendary SytemRescueCD with Clonezilla in a multi boot system (CD or USB)

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(although the page is in German, the software is all English)

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