Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Wondershare LiveBoot 2012
by Chris Taylor


It often pays to watch the messages that get posted on The PUB.

On August 6th, Dunc Petrie posted a message in the General Messages area that started; Wondershare LiveBoot 2012 is offering a lifetime license absolutely FREE until August 12: Usually $59.95.

What is LiveBoot 2012? Well, the Wondershare web site claims it can; “Rapidly Rescue You from Any Imaginable PC Crash Disaster with a boot CD”. While I might dispute the use of the word “any”, it is a pretty powerful recovery package.

You start by downloading an executable that is only 6MB. Sweet! Oh, but that is just the downloader which then downloads a 321MB file. Don’t try this on dial-up! It is understandable that it is so large. Once you run the installation file, you end up with a nice little menu program that allows you to burn a CD or create a bootable USB drive with the actual program. If you are using a USB flash drive, you will need one that is at least 330 MB. And since it will be wiped clean prior to the addition of LiveBoot, be sure to save any important files on the flash drive.

LiveBoot is based on the Windows WinPE 3.0 environment. This provides a stripped down Windows 7 system that can be run from removable media. While WinPE (the “PE” stands for “pre-installation environment”) was originally designed by Microsoft for deploying Windows in a corporate environment, it is also used by various software authors as a platform for recovery tools.

Once you create the CD or USB flash drive, you simply boot from it. After a minute or so, up pops the LiveBoot environment and you can access all the tools to help fix broken Windows.

LiveBoot will automatically connect to the network if it sees a wired connection, so you can have access to other computers on your network and the Internet. Wireless connections are not available however.

The main screen divides the tools into four broad categories; Windows Recovery, Data Recovery, Disk Management, and Password & Key Finder.

Windows Recovery

This section provides some solution centers with specific tools to meet a particular problem, such as Windows crashing on every boot or random crashes after Windows loads. The complete set of tools includes Master Boot Record Recovery, Boot Sector Recovery, Boot File Recovery, Registry Recovery, Registry Editor, access to Windows System Restore (where you can try to recover by using a standard Windows restore point), Memory Diagnostics and Windows Backup/Restore.

Data Recovery

The Data Recovery section is designed to allow you to restore lost files. There is a Smart Recovery option that automates the process. Or you can opt to go for a more directed approach of looking for deleted files, lost files (from deleted or corrupted partitions), or lost partitions. A number of options allow you to narrow your search. For example, you can look for specific filenames. Or you can search for files created or modified in a specific time period. File recovery can take many hours, depending on the size of your disk and number of files you have. As well, recovery is highly dependent on how heavily the disk has been used since the files were “lost”. But it certainly seems to do a thorough job of finding anything that is recoverable.

Disk Management

This area of LiveBoot is divided up into 4 areas.

Clone Genius allows you to clone either a single partition or an entire disk. This can be useful if you are replacing an old disk or upgrading to a larger disk.

Partition Genius allows you to do just about anything you can think of with disk partitions. You can create new ones, delete those you no longer need, format them, resize them, hide and show them, recover deleted partitions, convert FAT16/FAT32 to NTFS and check their integrity. You can even explore them to see the contents.

The Wipe Data section allows you to securely wipe a partition or entire disk. This is great if you are getting rid of an old disk or computer and want to make sure none of your personal data or licensed software is recoverable. It can also be used if you have a rootkit installed that you can’t seem to get rid of. Rather a last resort, but this will make sure all remnants of malware are completely wiped out before you re-install everything from scratch.

The Data Backup/Restore section allows you to image an entire disk partition or disk. And of course, once you have used the program to create an image, you can use the restore function to recover. Note that this is not as convenient as using an imaging program like Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost that runs from within your normal Windows environment, but if you don’t want to shell out a few bucks for one of those programs, this can do the job.

Password & Key Finder

The Password section allows you to reset the password on any local account – including the Administrator account – to nul (no password). This is very handy if you forget your password and can’t get logged into Windows.

Key Finder allows you to see the product key for Windows itself and any version of Microsoft Office from Office 97 to Office 2010. Both of these options are useful in case you decide you have to re-install Windows and don’t have a record of your product keys. Just make sure you capture the keys before you re-install Windows!

Windows Tools

Also included on the Start menu are a number of handy tools that come with Windows such as Calculator (not sure why you would need this during a recovery exercise), CMD prompt (always handy!), Network Configurator (in case the network is not automatically started), Remote Desktop Connection, Windows Explorer, Wordpad (handy to document what you do as you proceed), and more.

Interestingly, after installing LiveBoot 2012, Secunia Personal Software Inspector reported a security vulnerability in ImgBurn.exe, a component installed as part of LiveBoot 2012. This vulnerability was patched over 7 months ago. Shame on Wondershare for distributing software with security vulnerabilities that have long ago been patched.

I did not put all the tools to the test. After all, I did not really want to delete any partitions, recover the registry or perform a boot file recovery on my working systems. But I did try out some of the non-destructive tools and recovered some deleted files. Overall, Wondershare’s LiveBoot 2012 seems to be a powerful and well-rounded set of recovery tools for Windows computers.


Bottom Line:

Program version: LiveBoot 2012 v7.0.1
Price: $59.95
System requirements: 800MHz processor, 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended. The web site notes that more than 1 GB RAM is required to run Data Recovery and Disk Management),
CD-ROM drive or USB flash drive.
Windows XP/2003/Vista/7 required to create the bootable media. Windows 98/ME/2K/2003/XP/NT/Vista/7 can all be targets for recovery operations.
Web site:
www.wondershare.com/boot-cd/


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Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

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