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Microsoft's ERD Commander Software Review

ERD Commander like BartPE is for pre SATA II or SATA III hard drives and SSD's...

Why you need ERD Commander for pre Vista Operating Systems?

Over the years Operating Systems have evolved from DOS to Windows 10. With that evolution there has been another evolution, how to fix the problems inherent with the increasingly complex environment of the computer operating system.

Note: This is NOT BartPE software!

When NT was introduced it came on ninety floppy disks. Then the bootable cd a couple of years later. The first three floppies would start the system and you could trouble shoot it from there, when the bootable CD came out it had an option for trouble shooting your computer.

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With Windows 2000, XP, Vista,  and now Windows 10 trouble shooting your problems are no longer so simple. MS has deicide to use what they call the Emergency Recovery Console. This is a convoluted, confusing, and down right unusable program. So as with most MS products YOU have to have a solution, a fix, that fix is ERD Commander.

So what is ERD or Emergency Repair Disc?  It is a mini XP operating system on a cd. It has a XP style desktop and tools to fix problems with a computer that will not start or you have locked yourself out

I would recommend you have this fine program in your IT Tool Box. This will allow you to recover data from a non functional computer, it will allow you to use Ghost to put the image you made back on in the event of a hardware or software failure. You can remove hardware or software drivers that were installed and caused a blue screen when the computer restarted. There are a lot of things you can do with this product that I have not listed. A plus is it is a bootable cd, no need for a floppy!

Quote from Microsoft's web site
"When your server or workstation won't boot, you need ERD Commander 2005. ERD Commander 2005 boots dead systems directly from CD into a Windows-like repair environment. You'll have full access to the dead system's volumes, so you can diagnose and repair problems using tools located on the ERD Commander 2005 Start menu. And you'll have built-in network access to safely move data off of, or on to, the dead system. With ERD Commander 2005 you can repair a system quickly and easily, saving you time and rescuing your critical data.

Key features:
Boots dead systems directly from CD
Easy, familiar Windows-like interface
Intuitive Solution Wizard helps you select the right tool to correct your system issue
Includes Crash Analyzer Wizard to pinpoint the cause of recent system crashes for repair
Allows complete disk sanitizing/data removal with Disk Wipe utility
Includes the Locksmith utility to reset lost Administrator passwords
Includes FileRestore so that you can quickly find and recover deleted files
Provides access to XP Restore Points on unbootable Windows XP systems
Detect malware and other applications that may be consuming system resources
Compares key info on unbootable systems with that of a working system for diagnosis and troubleshooting
Automatically identifies and replaces critical system files that have become corrupt
Allows for formatting and partitioning of disks
Provides emergency removal capability for faulty hotfixes
Built-in network access to safely copy data to/from dead systems
Repair and diagnostic tools located on Start menu
Repair tools include System Restore tool, System File Repair, Service and Driver Manager, Hotfix Uninstall Wizard, Locksmith, Registry Editor, Explorer, Disk Management, and Command Prompt
Data recovery tools include Disk Commander and FileRestore
Diagnostic tools include Crash Analyzer Wizard, System Compare, Autoruns, Event Log Viewer, System Information, TCP/IP Configuration, and Logical volumes utilities
Compatible with Windows NT, 2000, XP, and Server 2003."

 

This article written in late 2006 has it's points, but Microsoft has discontinued the product. Even though there are in excess of 350+ Million computers in the world that still use XP.

Pitfalls or other things you will need with ERD Commander:

One thing that comes to mind is the amount of support built into this program. If you have a system that is a year older than the version of ERD you have there is a good chance that all the device drivers you will need are on the cd.

If you have a newer system you may have to get drivers for the video, any raid array controller, or network card you have in the system. Another draw back to the cd is that if you want to use a recovery tool such as Ghost you will have to have it on a separate disk or device like a usb flash drive or external hard drive.

At the time of writing this article ERD Commander was widely available but do to Microsoft's dropping support of this fine program in favor of the 'command console' kludge starting with Vista it will be extremely hard to find.

See this ERD Commander tutorial for more help .

Rating:

Because this program is the only one of its kind (there are some kludge imitations on the web), I do not recommend trusting your data or business to a kludge) and I have used it since it was first introduced many years ago I will rate it 8 of 10.

The reason for the rating is MS is making you buy a product that they had to produce instead of incorporating it in the cd that the OS installation comes on and remove the ER console that is useless.

Update - pre 2011

Windows 7 has a build a Emergency Recovery Disc (ERD) CD function that works quite well in conjunction with the Restore points and system imaging programs. It is recommended that if you have Windows 7 that you create the ERD. You can use it almost in the same way as with ERD Commander, the difference is you have to use the Command Prompt Console and MS convoluted syntax to do your repairs. I have used it twice to restore a Windows 7 installation. Once to repair the boot record and once to install a Ghost Image of a Windows 7 install.

Update - Aug, 2012

After struggling with Windows 7 on a ASUS laptop with a i Series processor and a limited BIOS, I came to a conclusion that the PE (Preinstall Environment) that ERD Commander uses was not compatible with an i Series processor. I was mistaken, what this program was incompatible with is the SATA II and III that the BIOS settings use. The older computers had the SATA specifications which is compatible to the IDE drive format where as the SATA II and III are compatible with the USB specifications. That means that the BIOS does not have any IDE support, no IDE support means older SATA drivers will not work in with these newer computers/BIOS programs.

Update - Oct 2013

I did a search for this fine program/bootable Operating System and only found it on some highly questionable (pirate) web sites. Even Amazon and eBay don't have any "used" copies of the software.

The work around is to either not use your older XP Operating Systems and/or ERD Commander along with BartPE disks unless you add the newer SATA II and III drivers to the boot disk/device. See this page for instructions for making an updated boot disk/device that will work with newer computers that the BIOS does not support IDE or SATA (the original specification).

P.S.

The last version of this fine program/bootable OS was 2005, I would advise you not download, buy, or barrow any that have 2006 or higher version numbers. They are pirate versions and will have viruses embedded in the software...

Do you get the feeling that Microsoft's Windows 7 ERD isn't doing the job?

Do you have a Windows 7 ERD? Want to know how to make a custom Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) for yourself? Check this out. (hint: you can have more tools (programs) than what MS gives you on the generic Windows 7/8/10 ERD).

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