The beauty of a Live CD is that it gives you a chance to access your computer or a batch of alternate applications without actually having to load up your operating system. You only need to pop the CD into your optical drive and boot it up from your BIOS -- this self-contained environment runs independent of anything that's located on your drive partitions, even though you can still perform a variety of tasks that manipulate the data on your drives.
For example, you can test our new Linux distributions using a Live CD, saving you the time and hassle of blanking an entire partition just to see if it's the right distribution for you. You can also manipulate the partitions of your drives using a Live CD, expanding and creating volumes to create alternate locations for new operating systems, files, or whatever it is you'd use a separate volume for. Live CDs are great for troubleshooting your system (or saving your data) when your primary operating system won't boot, and they can also be used to break through Windows installations that you've lost the password for.
All that functionality... and you don't even have to install a single program on your machine! Click the link to check out some of the best Live CDs that you should have sitting on your desk.
Partitioning your hard drive has never been easier. Free options, including the Windows install disk, make this once monumental task a fairly simple two-click experience that many of us don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about when we first install our OS’s. It can sometimes be difficult to anticipate your storage needs up front, and many users just assume they are stuck with decisions they made long ago.
A typical user could have many reasons for breaking up a hard drive into multiple volumes, but partitioning your drive after installing an OS is typically a destructive proposition -- one that usually involves backing up your data, formatting, and starting clean. Commercial solutions such as Norton Partition Magic has existed for years and allows you to preserve your data while resizing volumes, but what if you’re working on a limited budget (or completely without one)? That’s where GParted comes into play. This free and open source disk partitioning tool was designed for Linux, but luckily for us Windows users, it comes bundled in a live CD or USB version called Parted Magic which takes care of the Linux requirement.
In this guide we will look at how to use the interface to resize, delete, or create new partitions, all without losing your data or starting over. This will come in handy if you made your Windows partition too large or too small, or if you’re happy with Windows XP, but want to give Vista a spin. Backups are still heavily advised, but with our help, and a bit of luck, you won’t need them. Read on!