The “disc” is really a term inherited from yesteryear, as it was obviously a physical CD (compact disc) in the early days, although as we have already mentioned there are many other ways to do it. ” have a recovery disk, including in a hard drive partition. Today we’re going to cover the hardware part of this recovery system, but before we get into the thick of it, let’s start from the beginning.
What is Windows PE and what is it used for?
If you’ve ever had to perform a system recovery or restore, you may have had to use a Linux USB drive or bootable disk to access system files and settings. Windows PE stands for “Windows Preinstallation Environment” or Windows Preinstallation Environment, and this is precisely the Microsoft version of these Linux Live CDs.
Similar to how Linux Live CDs work, Windows PE bootable recovery discs include a wide variety of features and tools, such as:
- Ability to prepare hard drives to install Windows 10.
- Repair ready-to-use installations.
- Data recovery even if you cannot boot from your hard drive.
- Configure various recovery tools.
- Configure automated tasks.
- Driver updates and troubleshooting.
Although that’s not all, the simplest answer to the question “what is this?” is that these recovery discs are a physical part (since a USB stick is usually used for this) to help you solve problems on your PC that cannot be solved in any other way, either because the PC does not not start or for some other reason. This is especially true if something has damaged your hard drive and you cannot boot it or access the recovery partition, so as you will understand, it is better to have Windows PE on a USB stick or CD than on a disk partition.
In fact, one of the fundamental characteristics of Windows PE is that it works like Linux Live CDs in the sense that you don’t even need a hard drive to boot the PC, so it’s ideal if you need to. do tests with some failed hardware components.
How do these recovery USB drives work?
How recovery discs work is that they start with a basic system. Windows PE is not the only basic bootable recovery disc system, but it is one of the most effective when you need to work with certain Windows functions like batch files, scripts, Win32 applications, etc. .
You usually download the base system which includes various tools; Each disk contains its own set of these, for example there are versions that focus more on security while others focus on network tools. Most not only include support for Windows apps, but also add a variety of free open source tools to help with system troubleshooting and recovery. While many tools you’ve never heard of might seem intimidating, open source tools usually have community support available, and there’s a good chance that your issue has already been encountered by someone else and that it was resolved for them.
As the name suggests, bootable recovery discs work on system startup, which means you boot from the same USB drive instead of the PC hard drive, which is ideal if you are specifically trying to fix a problem. problem related to it or if you are trying to eliminate a particularly stubborn virus.
Of course, and while you can boot almost any PC with one of these disks, Microsoft doesn’t let you use Windows PE as your primary operating system, and it only leaves you three days before you start. force you to restart the PC. The system restores files (not stored on an external hard drive) and customizations when you restart; however, any changes you made to the operating system on your hard drive will be retained.
What are the best Windows PE drives?
Each of Windows PE’s disk options also includes instructions on how to make your own bootable USB drive, so if you’re reading this because you’re having trouble and want to create one, you’ll have it pretty easily, and in fact you will only need a working PC with an Internet connection and obviously a USB key, preferably 8 GB or more.
Let’s see what are the best options you have for creating one of these discs:
- Microsoft has its own Windows PE disk that you can create from a Windows Deployment and Assessment plug-in. It’s free, customizable, and you have step-by-step instructions for accessing the plugin and creating your bootable USB drive.
- Paragon Backup & Recovery Community Edition allows you to create the recovery disc with the addition of a wide variety of utilities. You can also take advantage of the file backup and recovery features if your problems are hard drive related.
- AOEMEI PE Builder helps you create custom recovery discs using any Windows PE distribution you already own, or you can also create one from scratch using your base system. You can add various tools, including those for maintaining the brand’s computers. It’s totally free.
- Hiren’s BootCD PE is the only option on the list that isn’t officially supported, but users love it so much that the disc is now community-supported and regularly updated. It includes several troubleshooting and recovery tools, which are also updated as needed.
Ideally, use the official version from Microsoft, but if you’re looking for something more personalized or can’t fix your issues without advanced tools, you can always try some of the other options.