My Onsite Technician CD Wallet

Here on Technibble we have covered computer repair applications for your USB drive fairly extensively, but what about a technicians CD wallet? Here is a list of disks that I carry around in my onsite CD wallet.

UBCD4Win – UBCD4Win is my preferred GUI repair environment because its Windows based and have already been loaded with many repair applications. Of course, you can use a Linux LiveCD flavor if that is more your style.

Ultimate Boot CD (dos version) – Ultimate Boot CD is a DOS based menu that allows you to do low level work to a system like testing the RAM for errors, doing a low level format or testing the condition of a hard drive. It contains the DOS versions of some commonly used applications such as Aida, Memtest86+, Dariks Boot and Nuke and more.

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor
– Offline NT Password & Registry Editor is a freeware utility that allows you to change or blank the password of any user that has a valid account on a local NT/2000/XP/2003/Server 2008/Vista 32 & 64bit system.

Offline Update – Offline Update is a freeware tool that downloads all of the existing patches for the operating system you specify (choice of Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003) and creates an ISO file, for which you can later burn to a CD or DVD.

The DriverPacks.net CDs – The DriverPacks.net project is an open source project. The goal is to simplify the creation of a “uniform” Windows installation CD, i.e. an installation CD that works on every piece of hardware, without having to go look for other drivers after the installation.

Windows Installer CDs
A copy of:

  • Windows 98 SE
  • Windows 2000 Workstation/Small Business
  • Windows XP Home OEM/Retail/Genuine Advantage
  • Windows XP Professional OEM/Retail/VLK 32bit/64bit
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit / 64bit (contains all Vista versions)
  • Microsoft Office 2000, XP, 2003, 2007

How do I get all of these I hear you say? I personally obtained most of mine as I bought the OSes for my own personal computers over the last 7 years. Some technicians create a copy of their clients CDs as they come in (without the CDkey of course since that would be piracy). Another option is to subscribe to the Microsoft Action Pack which contains most of Microsofts Software. However, this only contains their current software and not older versions so you couldn’t get Windows 98 and 2000. I have also heard some technicians even suggest downloading the ISOs from bittorrent sites but not using the CD Key. However, this is not recommended as the internet version may be infected with all sorts of hidden nasties.

A copy of your USB Repair Tool Kit on CD – In some cases, the USB ports don’t work on a clients machine or you may not want to plug in your USB drive into a infected machine as your drive may also become infected. This is where having a copy of your USB repair tool kit on a CD is handy.

Driver Disks for Your Own Devices – I rarely ever have to use this driver disk for the devices I take onsite like my USB drive, USB DVD burner, USB network card & USB soundcard as Windows XP and above will automatically detect these. However, sometimes if I have to work on Windows 98 or a damaged version of a later operating system, it can come in handy if they are not being detected.

Windows Service Packs Standalone and .NET Installers
You can choose to keep this on your USB drive as well, but its nice to have them on a CD as well.

Installers for Commonly Used Applications – Another one you can also keep on a USB drive. Its a good idea to have commonly used installers on a CD like FoxIT Reader, nVidias Forceware Drivers, Skype, Thunderbird, iTunes etc..

Whats in your Technicians CD wallet?



Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (45)

  • Uriel says:

    pretty comprehensive list there. All i can think of that i would add is a couple of blank disks that i use when a client doesnt have any available, for backups ect.

  • aircave says:

    Thanks for the post! I recently lost my CDs. Anyway to password-protect bootable and non-bootable disks? Something like what UBCD4Win has.

    TIP #1: If using P2P, test throughly! Use several AV engines and upload suspicious files via online scanners (virustotal, etc.). Label as tested.

    TIP #2: make usb drives write-only via registry before plugging it in or get a usb with write-protect switch

  • aircave says:

    correction: *read-only

  • Nick says:

    Aircave’s TIP #2 makes a good point, however I have a much more simple solution.

    Malware spreads to flash drives in several different ways, but can only leave the flash drive via autorun.inf which it will write, modify, or overwrite. So I like to do what I call creating a flash drive condom…

    1. Delete the autorun.inf file from the root of your flash drive if it exists.

    2. Create a new folder named autorun.inf (yes you can create a folder with an extension!) By doing so, malware cannot modify or create the autorun.inf file as a folder already exists with the same name. If the malware tries to delete it first, thinking it is a file, it will fail.

    As for the other tools, it is a good list. I typically use similar tools, a WinPE disk (thanks Bart!) I’ve created myself with some of my own tools on it for malware removal, fixing IDE after a motherboard swap, etc. plus some data recovery tools, a multi-boot cd with all the current dos based hard drive diagnostics, memtest86+, acronis trueimage/ghost/drive image bootables, the offline nt registry editor, and a few different and mostly linux password cracking/removal tools.

    I also carry a copy of RIPlinux (Recovery Is Possible) for some reason though I’ve never wanted to use that ONSITE where I didn’t just bring the system back with me.

    I have a disk with services packs for server 2003 and xp, along with install disks for various versions and office. I’ve consolidated my 9x versions down to 2 disks (95a/b/c/98 and 98se/ME) with batch to automate the setups, optionally deleting temps and those pesky upgraded WMP and IE files that could botch an install over-top. I haven’t used either disk in years but they are still there.

    Additionally, I find the MS Exchange Best Practices Analyzer and Troubleshooting Assistant, along with other the Server Performance Advisor and another disk with various debugging tools and symbols for analyzing crash dumps.

    A quick note on the Action Pack that Bryce mentioned: Forget that and get a Technet Plus Direct (download only) subscription for around the same price as the entry level Action Pack, and this will net you instant access to more software, pretty much everything, as it’s released (no waiting for disks to ship.) You get off-the-beaten-path stuff like WHS and if you’re into BETA stuff you can nab that and RC editions of things like Win7 before they are released to the general public, all without download traffic hassles. For certain items you have access to more product keys, and additionally you will get access to ALL technet articles and support. Years ago it was a lot more for Technet but with the significantly cheaper download only subscription it just makes more sense. Last I looked it was down to $350 US and I’ve seen it actually ON SALE for $250ish last December.

  • Drew Graham says:

    Bryce, how do you keep your AV definitions up to date on UBCD4Win?

  • Efrain says:

    Is it really necessary to carry around Windows 98/2000 and Office 2000, XP? I found the majority of PC’s having XP and for those with 98 you can recommend a system upgrade. These days you can get a PIII 1Ghz PC with CRT for $100. Also, most systems with Office 2000 or XP can handle Office 2003. Any opinions?

  • Efrain says:

    I would like to add that I carry a copy of backtrack 3, Ubuntu 8.04, Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard and a slim version of Windows XP for slow systems (can run on a PII with 64MB ram)

  • chuck817 says:

    windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, windows 2000, and on the sever side NT4.xxx and 2000 server editions are are no longer valid operating systems and should not be coddled by any technician these antiquated operating systems are the most of the problems that we have now on the internet these days where worms and internet viri hide

    I personally refuse to fix computers with those operating systems on it and yes I have lost business to my policy but I do believe that if we dump the old OS on the internet half of the worlds viri and internet worms would disappear

  • kyle says:

    omg thats briliant nick can we all give nick a round of aplause tfor his find your a genius man SPREAD THE WORD

  • Chris says:

    The only thing that I would add to the list is a copy of Spin Rite. It cost a little but, worth every penny

  • camp.cool007 says:

    Great list.

  • votre says:

    lunarsoft.net publishes a terrific tool called the Anti-Malware Toolkit.

    It isn’t an antimalware app itself, but rather a utility that batch downloads just about every security tool you’d normally need (Avira, AVG, Avast, SuperAntispyware, etc.) along with a decent selection of common apps (Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.) and utilities.

    Burn the downloaded files to a CD and you’re ready to rock. Very handy to have when you’re at a client’s site.

    You don’t actually need Anti-Maleware Toolkit to get the software it downloads. But it’s a huge timesaver over visiting each site individually and hunting down the download links. Just check the boxes for which apps you want, hit the start key, and walk away.

    The Anti-Malware Toolkit is also no-install application that can be run from a USB stick or from a folder on a hard drive. Nice GUI too!

    Full info and download link can be found here:

    http://wiki.lunarsoft.net/wiki/Anti-Malware_Toolkit

  • MikeB Townsville says:

    Not a bad list but dump the OS from 2000 back as they are pretty much worthless. Anyone still using them can’t afford my service fees to start with. I stick with XP and Vista only. Anything else is just a waste of my time unless it is one of the old dears I look after who still run Pentium 75s with Win 98SE and I only charge them a cup of coffee for every visit.

    As for Mac OS’s why bother. 99.9% of the time they can fix it themselves and if not I am not going to be any help as I refuse to use them.

    Linux is another matter entirely and yes you should carry a couple of these with you.

  • ithinkyou5.0 says:

    i will have to dissagree there MikeB alot of people dont go out and get the shiney new gadget every couple months and just dont see the need to upgrade from older OSs why would they if 98 or 2000 is working fine for them? also alot of people are scared of change and buying a computer/OS can be a big task for someone who isnt well versed in the field all they see is names numbers and price tags and dont know the difference so they just stick to there old machines. my motto is replacement is never a substitute for fixing and i’d rather have copys of old OSs for those times when the customer would rather just get the machine they have working again.

    now back on topic :P
    nice list there bryce. i’d also add a disk with a couple of drivers for both nvidia and radeon graphix cards as often they are a large download

  • Great list – I agree that OS before Win 2000 is useless but I still carry them too – you never know – the time I dump them will be the time I need them.

  • Bryce W says:

    Windows 98 and 2000 still has its uses. I occasionally come across a very old client on a very old computer. They only use the computer for 5 minutes a day just to check emails. Thats all they care about, thats all they want to do and they are happy doing it.
    I could recommend upgrades but the Windows98 computer does example what they want it to do nicely, so I leave them to it and fix the machine.

  • Les M says:

    Aircave’s TIP #2 makes a good point, I have a simple solution.
    I bought a USB SDcard reader from Poundland for £1GBP and use a 1GB card which has a write protect switch.
    I use Anti malware toolkit to update my AV&AS files and rename them with the date prefixed.
    I also use ketarin to keep all my install files up to date.
    Toal time 30 mins per sunday, including drinking a cup of tea.
    Note I get the urls for Ketarin from using flashget/got.

  • Christian says:

    Valid uses for Win98: Imaging machine running software that runs just fine on win98 (not SE). No internet/network connection. Just burns CDs of the images it takes. Cost of getting new PC (with XP Pro) and Imaging Software? $10,000. Is the machine still supported by the vendor? Yes. If anything dies on the PC, does the vendor fix? Yes. DOes it cost extra? No. Being that its still covered under the vendor’s contract.

    * This is at a clinic, the imaging machine is similar to an X-Ray machine. I just support the PCs at this clinic, I do not pretend to be a Doctor and know what these machines do. However I have called the Vendor asking how much it would cost to replace it when it died a few months ago.

  • James says:

    Of course I would suggest carrying a few “ready for sale” copies of Norton Internet Scurity (or your favorite flavor of AV program) as you may spend your time fixing a virus-type problem with the recommendation to the customer to obatin/renew their AV subscription… just to get a call back a few days later after a re-infect because they haven’t followed your advice.

    Also, I would add a NTFS boot floppy. This will allow you to read/write to an NTFS formatted drive in those severe cases of data recovery from a non-bootable system.

    GREAT list – thanks!

  • Ron says:

    I have every version of Windows from 3.1.1 onward

    CTUpdates for XP 32/64 and Server 2003 32/64
    CTUPdates for Office 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007
    Koppix 6.0.1
    Ultimate Boot CD 4.1.1
    System Restore 1.1.3
    Customized Windows Post Install
    Open CD 4.0
    Ophcrack Live CD for XP
    Ophcrack Live CD for Vista
    PC Login Now
    Universal Driver Pack for WindowsXP
    PING 3.0
    Trinity Rescue CD 3.3
    ….and a few other goodies as well.

  • Efrain says:

    Well, guess you’re right about Windows 98/2000. I’ll have to carry a copy of them. As for the Mac OS, I prefer PC’s but I service Macs too and I charge more for fixing a crashed hard drive in a Mac. Besides, you can’t use a USB memory to install OS X, it only allows you to do it from CD/DVD or firewire. That’s why I carry a copy of OS X. Ophcrack is a good one too.
    As for the write protected storage, I can recommend the Clip Flash Drive by Imation. Those have a small switch to write protect it. You can get the 8GB for $35.
    BTW… Norton Internet Security is a resource hog… Kaspersky forever :P

  • Daevien says:

    Trinity Rescue Kit

    and

    SystemRescueCD

    are the main things I find myself using cd/dvd for these days, everything else I use my usb keys for and a lot of the time I have a smaller key formatted with one or the other of the two on it for quick fixes without the bulk of the case of cds

  • Its me LunchBox says:

    Great list of CD’s

    One thing to keep in mind is . . . . What would you do if the laptop or desktop had a bad CD player and you did not have one available?

    It is always good to had at least one of the CD’s used to fixing as a bootable USB flash drive.

  • Azhibberd says:

    How about making sure you have a copy of driver grabber? just incase u have to reinstall windows on a bootable machine.

  • capthookss says:

    Great list of essentials to carry on the job.

  • Thank you for sharing this really valuable list. This kind of posts i like most, and i follow them 100%. Creating my new CD wallet now :)

  • Ron says:

    @ithinkyou5.0

    If someone is using Windows98 or 2000 and they go online, they are risking all kinds of problems – especially if it is an always-on high-speed connection. (Viruses and whatnot can still happen on dial-up as well.) If they are NOT online, fine. If they are though, then I recommend a newer PC. Sometimes replacement IS the fix…especially on an outdated, non-supported OS.

    @MikeB

    I too (as do we all) support XP, but on April 14th, 2009, Microsoft STOPPED supporting XP unless it is the Retail version. They will only support it until April 8th, 2014. 5 years from now. They threw the support back for XP onto the OEMs, who will most likely no longer support it since Microsoft doesn’t. For those who DO continue to use XP, it won’t be supported with updates by Microsoft, if you need to call them for support it will cost you $$$, and lastly, with 32-bit going away as 64-bit is more and more commonplace, software won’t be updated on these non-secure systems.

    Vista is being minimally updated right now (certainly not like XP was supported) and only until Windows 7 / Server 2008 are officially out.

  • zbeckerd says:

    In response to Nick about Technet Plus direct. This place (quickstart.com)has the service for 279 USD until the end of May 09. http://tinyurl.com/cfewph. I have never used it.
    Thanks for the autorun.inf folder idea. I got conficker from a PC that had never been on the internet on my USB. Because the PC had contact with the world via the Owners USB (slap forehead and say duh). Interestingly the only antivirus that found it was Avast. I saw it when I plugged into my Linux box. Fortunately this was all in the shop and I did not spread it.
    So I immediately made a dvd from a previous backup of my USB key and cd of my antivirus kit for pc’s I am afraid of.

  • Matt says:

    I have all of these CDs with me at all times except for the following:

    Offline Updates
    MY USB info on CD

    BTW: UBCD4Win includes not only UBCD original, but the NT offline registry editor, MemTest, and more. No need to have more than one CD for all of those since UBCD4Win has all of them at the start up boot screen, unless you’re afraid of one disk failing.

  • Great List, Ive been looking for somthing like this on eht enet for a while.

    Cheers.

  • Math says:

    MRI soldier
    UBCD
    Intoxicator multiboot
    all experience modded os
    few Last Team modded XP and lastVista v2

    Few live xp version containing around 150 tool for repairing,

    Did someone mentioned Hiren’s boot ? 9.7 …
    Nor don’t you have an Acronis boot ?

    ops… I may not be at the right place.

  • Roger says:

    I didn’t see BART PE in the above list. I get alot of use out of this boot cd.

  • Art Tatman says:

    ERD Commandor 2005 from Winternals Administrator’s Pack (Not the Microsoft buyout version)

  • Uriel613 says:

    Great list. What I started doing was burning CDs such as these onto mini-CD (210MB) and mini-DVD’s (1.4GB). I then use a Nintendo GameCube CD case (can pick up pretty much anywhere) as my CD/DVD holder. I can toss this into pretty much anything along with my USB sticks. I also carry a 20GB external hard drive that I can use for backup. One Leatherman multi-tool with an extra tool bit pack and voila! Can do lots with this. Of course, there are times when I will have to carry full CDs and DVDS.

    Thanks.

    Uriel

  • Uriel613 says:

    Failed to mention that my 20GB hard drive is a Firefly drive so its very small and it was free.

  • Jimmy James says:

    This is good to take with you:

    http://driverpacks.net/driverpacks

    The people who run it are trying to gather up ever driver for every manufacturer and put it one place. Just tell windows to search the folder and you’re pretty much done

  • Jimmy James says:

    Some Vista drivers can be found on the forums

  • Xriva says:

    Link to offline update – doesn’t seem to have a download for this program.

    Here’s a link where I did find it.

    http://www.h-online.com/security/Offline-Update–/features/112953

  • Eugene says:

    I admit, I have not been on this blog in a long time… nonetheless it was another enjoy to see It is such serious case and to avoided by so many, even pro. I thank you to assist making people more informed of possible problems.

  • linton says:

    Hi all,
    Great post. I am downloading a few things now to add to my kit.
    Just to add one thing i do is take my netbook fully loaded with isos of every os, os repair disks. So as and when i need a os i just use a dvd2usb tool and install from usb. Seems to work most times.
    Also i use a internet dongle just in case i need something extra off my server or a driver or even help from guys like you.

    Thanks technibble you have helped me heaps and sure you will continue to.

  • reteo says:

    Wow… nice list. I’ve got these, but also several others. My list:

    In DVD Form:
    * DVDs with versions of Windows from 3.1 to 2003, plus 2008 Server, both R1 and R2. I still need to get Vista and 7.
    * BackTrack for penetration testing of networks.
    * Knoppix DVD when the CD isn’t enough.
    * OpenDisc, which I keep updated as new versions are made available.
    * UBCD4Win; I add the driverpacks to ensure as much compatibility as possible. I disabled the textmode tools, as they are pretty much duplicated with the UBCD.

    In CD Form:
    * CloneZilla and Parted Magic; It’s nice not having to pay for newer versions of backup and restore tools.
    * DEFT for forensic work; I used to use Helix, but I’m not all that peachy with its current licensing practices.
    * Knoppix CD for when the DVD is too much.
    * Knoppix STD for security and penetration testing.
    * Ophcrack XP and Vista… people forget passwords. ‘Nuff said.
    * StressLinux; I’ve had at least one situation where this has proven a useful tool in discovering hardware issues.
    * Ultimate Boot CD, the DOS version; I also slipstreamed Trinity Linux into this, for a very well-rounded DOS/Linux tool bootdisc.
    * FreeDOS; not very useful by itself, but nice to have in the case where DOSBox doesn’t run the needed app. (Mostly used in conjunction with VirtualBox on my flash drive)

  • Chilli says:

    Nice list, I got most of that stuff, but always after more tools – I can never have too many tools.

    I’ve used Ultimate Boot CD a lot for win xp, but never got the DOS version, I’ll grab a copy of that.

    One of my main tools – I have on it’s own USB stick, but also have a CD of of it, is slax from slax.org. A linux bootable OS you can customize easily. It’s so handy to grabbing files for backup when XP refuses to load.

  • Annony says:

    I have to say I’m supprised no one has mentions our (Computer repair Tech’s) most valuable tools our brain filled with knowledge….

    Shame I can’t remember where I put mine..

  • Matt says:

    Dont forget about SpinRight. Also, do you think CDs or DVDs for the above programs?

  • Jaideep says:

    what is the USB repair utility kit??