A. In the early days of Windows NT, the OS let you create an Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) to store copies of critical registry files and startup parameters. Microsoft has since replaced this functionality with new features and options, such as Automatic System Recovery and the Recovery Console (RC). ERD Commander 2003 is an ERD-creation tool from Winternals Software and might be the best tool for creating an ERD.

Upon start-up, ERD Commander scans the computer. If it detects multiple OS installations (i.e., a multiboot machine), it lets you select which Windows installation you want to work on. After you select an installation, the software performs some initial tests and fixes any problems that it modifies (e.g., a corrupted registry or other problems that might affect the installation).

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ERD Commander then presents a Windows XP-like environment with a Start menu and some desktop icons. The Start menu contains links to

  • Administration Tools (System Information, Service and Driver Manager, Locksmith, Event Log, Disk Management, TCP/IP Configuration, File Sharing, System Compare, System Restore)
  • FileRestore
  • Explorer
  • Search
  • Registry Editor
  • Notepad
  • Console

The Locksmith tool lets you change the password for any account on the machine. Service and Driver Manager is great for stopping any services that might be preventing your machine from booting. The Explorer tool lets you access all disks and can map drives to remote shares if your machine has IP connectivity. FileRestore lets you restore deleted files from systems. New functionality in ERD Commander 2003 includes built-in support for .zip and .cab files and the ability to partition and format disks.

ERD Commander also lets you apply XP System Restore points on unbootable systems and compare an unbootable machine's systems files, services, and drivers to those on a working machine to ascertain the cause of the problem.