In the old days you could use a boot disk to access the hard drive (HD) and backup your data before performing the recovery, but with Vista’s NTFS file system, this isn’t an option. A variety of other techniques let you preserve your data, but they’re time consuming and overly complicated. However, I found a free utility called VistaPE that can potentially make the whole process far easier.
VistaPE is a self-booting application that runs independently of your computer’s operating system. This lets you boot the crashed system and gain full access to the data stored on the NTFS drives. You can copy the data to a flash drive, transfer it to a network folder or even upload it to an online backup service. You can also configure VistaPE with additional utilities like virus scanners, web browsers and even office productivity tools.
And some true statements..
The only drawback is that you don’t download it or purchase it like a typical utility. Instead it’s actually compiled using a set of scripts that run under the WinBuilder script engine. Compiling these scripts can be incredibly difficult and frustrating. In all likelihood, it will not work for you the first time out, and for some people it might not work at all. If you’re easily discouraged, this isn’t for you. However, if you like a geeky challenge and you follow the recommended steps, I’m confident that you’ll (eventually) generate a successful build of VistaPE of your own. Just be patient and don’t get discouraged.
The whole article is available here: