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Five great apps to handle emergency recoveries

With this combination of apps in your toolkit, you should be able to tackle just about any software crisis you encounter in the field.
jack-wallen
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1 of 11 Jack Wallen/ZDNet

I have put together this list of five tools that have a place in the perfect emergency toolkit. Each tool serves a different purpose. Together, they make up a kit that I think will make your life a heck of a lot easier.

Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.

Photo: iStockphoto.com/pagadesign

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ComboFix is the Mac Daddy of virus and malware removal tool. After a successful run of ComboFix, you should have cleaned (if applicable) malware, rootkits, Trojans, worms, and viruses.

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You can't just install ComboFix on a machine and let it work in the background. ComboFix must be added to the machine, run on the machine, and removed from the machine. And while this tool is running, don't let anyone use the machine it's cleaning. ComboFix can cause panic on a PC if things go south.

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KNOPPIX is a live Linux distribution that can fit on a flash drive. With it, you can boot into a full-blown Linux distribution that contains many helpful tools.

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KNOPPIX lets you recover data from an unbootable drive, troubleshoot various aspects of a non-booting Windows drive, remove corrupt files, and much more. Many people don't realize just how valuable it is to have a full-blown, bootable Linux distribution with more than 2 GB of software ready and waiting.

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Being able to secure shell into a remote machine at all times is invaluable. The use of the simple RDP protocol is fine for some, but it's not nearly as secure as it should be. If you want your remote logins to be secure, add a little ssh goodness to your toolkit. PuTTY gives you just that.

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PuTTY lets you connect to any remote machine running a secure shell daemon (so long as you have the credentials to get through).

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When Windows blue screens, it spits out a core dump that contains a lot of valuable  information. BlueScreenView scans the dump files and displays information about the BSOD crashes in table format, making troubleshooting much easier.

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There is one catch here. I am a fan of the CCleaner tool. By default, CCleaner is set up to remove all those memory dump files. So if you use CCleaner, be sure you uncheck the option to delete those files. Otherwise, a tool like BlueScreenView will be of no use.

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Roadkil's Unstoppable Copier does one thing and it does it well: It copies data from broken drives. And it's good at it. But UC isn't just for getting data off broken drives. You can also use it as a daily backup (using the Batch Mode function).

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UC works by attempting to recover any readable piece of a file and then tries to put the pieces together. It's pretty amazing how well it works.

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