BootMed (32-bit version)
At a Glance
BootMed is not a program. It's an Ubuntu-based boot disc tailored (or "remixed," in BootMed jargon) with the idea of recovering failed or malware-infected Windows PC installations. More than that, it's also aimed at helping less tech-savvy users through the process. The first thing BootMed does after booting is open Firefox and browse to the BootMed site to display help and advice on recovery operations.
I'm sure the idea of using Linux to help teach Windows users how to recover their files has invoked a few chuckles amongst the Linux community as well as grimaces from Microsoft, though it's nothing radically new: I use Slax and Parted Magic all the time to recover data from Windows PCs. BootMed is not dead-simple--you must at least understand the concepts involved and be fairly proficient at navigating a file system--but it's a boon for less experienced users that want to learn the basic processes of recovery and of course, recover things.
I'm definitely adding BootMed to my bag of tools for no other reason than that it presents a small but very useful array of tools on an uncluttered desktop. Said tools include the GParted partition manager as well as WINE, which allows you to run Windows programs such as the included McAfee Stinger and ClamWin to remove viruses and other malware. Also on hand are the PhotoRec file recovery tool and the TestDisk partition recovery and boot doctor.
One other nice BootMed touch is the Computer icon, which will be familiar to Windows users, and jumps right to the file system. It allows you to copy off files just as you would with Windows Explorer. For those who understand Linux commands, there's also a terminal icon (the equivalent of CMD in Windows).
It's a large download, but BootMed is worth it. It's a handy recovery as well as learning tool. BootMed is free, but author/maintainer Jake Teater accepts donations.
Note: This software comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. This is the 32-bit version. If your computer has a 64-bit CPU, please download the 64-bit version instead.
--Jon L. Jacobi