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September 29, 2022

Toolkit Item: Kyhi’s Rescue Disk

As part of an ongoing series of articles here at Win10.Guru, I’ve put together a list of useful, if not indispensable, admin tools for Windows. The first story in the series is called The (Windows) Admin’s Toolkit and it appeared the day the site went live on 1/1/2018. As I count such things, this is the eighth (8th) installment in this series, and it takes as its focus a special bootable Windows disk that long-time TenForums.com user Kyhi put together. He calls it “Windows 10 Recovery Tools — Bootable Rescue Disk” or “Windows 10 Recovery Tools — Bootable PE Rescue Disk,” but the rest of us on TenForums and elsewhere know it more succinctly as “Kyhi’s Rescue Disk.” So that’s what I’ll call it here in this story, too.

What Exactly Is Kyhi’s Rescue Disk?

Good question! Kyhi’s Rescue Disk is based around the Windows 10 Pre-installation environment, aka Win 10 PE. In fact, Kyhi’s Rescue Disk comes out of the Win10PESE project at TheOven.org. I take Win10PESE to be read as “Windows 10 Pre-installation Environment, the easy way” based on the acronyms used. For those who don’t already know, let me turn to Microsoft Docs to provide a definition:

Windows PE (WinPE) for Windows 10 is a small operating system used to install, deploy, and repair Windows 10 for desktop editions (Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education), Windows Server 2016, and other Windows operating systems. From Windows PE, you can:

  • Set up your hard drive before installing Windows.
  • Install Windows by using apps or scripts from a network or a local drive.
  • Capture and apply Windows images.
  • Modify the Windows operating system while it’s not running.
  • Set up automatic recovery tools.
  • Recover data from unbootable devices.
  • Add your own custom shell or GUI to automate these kinds of tasks.

To begin with, Kyhi’s Rescue Disk is a bootable Windows repair environment, best packaged on a USB Flash Drive (UFD). I keep one in my little tub of UFD’s, simply labeled “Kyhi” as shown in this photo.

Kyhi's Rescue Disk.UFD

I keep Kyhi’s Rescue Disk handy at all times, in my “little tub of UFDs.”
[Click image to see full-sized view.]

To build Kyhi’s Rescue Disk you need only download the ISO file (comes in x86/32-bit and x64/64-bit flavors at present). Then you can use a tool like Rufus (or the Windows command line/PowerShell for the truly hardcore) to create bootable media (usually, a UFD) from which you can run this repair and recovery environment/toolkit.

What Kyhi’s Rescue Disk Brings to the Party

If you look at what’s in the Program Files directory for Kyhi’s Rescue Disk, you’ll understand what it can do to help you repair a broken or dysfunctional Windows 10 installation. Remember, this boots into the Win10 PE environment, so you have access to all of these programs from an alternate boot that can operate on the injured Win10 installation in all kinds of interesting ways. Here’s what’s included in the current version of this terrific tool:

Kyhi's Rescue Disk.progfiles

Each folder here corresponds to a specific Windows tool or utility, which becomes available when you boot from Kyhi’s Rescue Disk.

Suffice it to say that with a variety of backup and recovery tools (AOMEI Backupper, Ashampoo Backup, DriveImage XML, Macrium Reflect, and more), disk and file cleanup tools (CCleaner, DiskExplorer, FSCapture and FSViewer, various partitioning and disk tools, and more), and a whole bunch of other helpful stuff, there’s not much you could want to do to a Windows image that this collection won’t enable. Quite simply, I find that keeping this repair/recovery UFD around makes it unnecessary for me to build and keep lots of other ones around too. Great stuff!

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

2 Responses “Toolkit Item: Kyhi’s Rescue Disk”

  1. arthur brogard
    July 1, 2018 at 03:20

    Yep, but exactly what would you do with it to repair a win10 installation that won’t boot, won’t repair, won’t do anything?

    Perhaps not the stuff you want to load up this post with but a link to such a place maybe?

    How to use Kyhi to fix most common prob that drives you to finding Kyhi’s disk in the first place: i.e. totally intractable win10 installation.

    • July 3, 2018 at 00:56

      I’d amend your question to “an ALMOST totally intractable Win10 installation,” because I’ve had to combat one that was truly and totally intractable. Earlier this year, I was faced with a Dell XPS 12 laptop that would post, but would not boot to any media, period. Nothing I tried worked, so I took it into the shop. They replaced the mSATA SSD it contained and it started recognizing the F12 alternate boot menu again. So, subject to the requirement that a machine must be able to boot from alternate media, here are some good uses for Kyhi’s rescue disk:
      1. virus cleanup: since you don’t want to execute any code on an infected OS, alternate boot lets you run cleanup (or even replace the OS) to deal with an infection
      2. delete otherwise immovable files: occasionally, I’ll come across a file that Windows won’t let me delete, period. Alternate boot takes care of that right away, because it’s not subject to the permissions or access control issues that prevent the normally resident OS from deleting the file (even using tools like Unlocker)
      3. OS repair: you can use the installer and run repairs of many kinds, or even use a variety of DISM commands (such as /cleanup-image /restorehealth) from an alternate Windows boot, as long as it’s a relatively current WinPE or WinRE image you’re booting from (Kyhi qualifies)
      4. file system activity/repair: booting from alternate media lets you do things you ordinarily can’t to the normally resident file system. You can easily shoot yourself badly this way, so never do this without a complete current backup to revert to, and do it only with great caution, if you absolutely must.
      Lots of other stuff, but I think that’s enough for now. If you have a specific other use in mind, or want to ask more questions, please do.
      Thanks for posting,

      PS: Sorry to be slow in responding to your comment. I’ve been unusually pre-occupied with other stuff recently. Kari had to tweak me to remind me you needed a reply. Hope the wait didn’t inconvenience you too much.

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