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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Backups and Disaster Recovery | Boot Disks ]

Importance of Boot Disks

You rely on your hard disk to boot your PC each day, but what would happen if something happened to your hard disk to make it unbootable? There are many different situations that can cause this to happen, ranging from hardware failure to erroneous operating system upgrades to virus infections. In addition to a backup of your data and programs, you need a backup of your bootable operating system so you can start the PC even when something happens to your hard disk. This is what emergency boot disks are for.

Typically, a boot disk will be used in the following situations:

  • Booting the System: In the event that your hard disk fails and is unable to boot, you can use your boot disks to start up the system. This will allow you the opportunity to troubleshoot and hopefully correct the problem with the hard disk. Sometimes a hard disk will be accessible after booting from a floppy disk, even if the hard disk itself will not boot. Without a boot disk, you are dead in the water since you will be unable to even start up the system at all.
  • Disaster Recovery: Ideally, the restore software for your backup media should be on an emergency boot disk. This will enable you to recover from a hard disk disaster and restore your system from your last backup media set(s).
  • Virus Detection and Disinfection: Many viruses, especially boot sector infectors, will automatically load into memory every time the hard disk is used to boot the PC. Once in memory they will interfere with attempts to remove them from the system. To avoid this, a virus disinfection session should always be done after a boot from a floppy disk that is known to be clean and functional.
  • Hard Disk Upgrade or Installation: A new hard disk normally comes unformatted with no operating system on it, and therefore cannot be used to boot the system. The normal way to get the operating system onto the disk is to use a boot floppy to start up the system and then transfer the operating system files to the hard disk.

I strongly recommend that every PC owner have a set of boot disks for their system, for use in any of the above circumstances.

Next: Boot Disk Contents

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