How to use Live Linux to test any PC.          

Live BOOTED LINUX, There is no need to install Linux, it runs in demo mode.(boot the CD or USB stick ,"media" see on the screen click "TRY ME".)
The top reason to run this Ubuntu is to test a suspected bad acting HDD. (HDD can fail after 5 years old for sure in toy grade cheap laptops)
No lie you can test your hardware using Linux, to test the HDD, CD, Memory  , sound chips and speakers, Ethernet port, and Wifi chip functions, and  more even test a keyboard or mouse....
Why not do that first, and if that  passes, than the OS on your PC is corrupted, infected or just only a wrong driver for your failed device, is bad. (Drivers can be missing or wrong or corrupted)
HDD tests are top Reasons to run Linux tests:
More modern PCs say 2010 and newer have HDD test in the BIOS pages.  (run that first, if fails the HDD IS DEAD) "easy no?"  See why Windows 10  , pops  windows box saying HDD fails SMART tests.
My favorite boot CD/DVD/STICK demo mode ("Try Me" ) is hands down best,  Ubuntu V17+ (+means or newer)
The best Linux does not fit on CD. (with full HDD tests, we need the big linux )
It is not hard to boot Linux on DVD but is vastly faster off any top quality USB Thumb drive, I call them USB sticks (I have Ubuntu and Windows 10 PE live on stick with CrystalDiskInfo preloaded) Linux is 10 times more easy to get than Windows PE ISO.
The Ubuntu live boot has super good disktest,  feature (robust and so easy to run)
Insert the USB  stick and boot to it now, (if you have modern PC go in to BIOS (UEFI) and turn off Secure-BOOT and turn on legacy mode,  or CSM as its called on top brand ASUS, prime motherboards
Then set boot order to USB first or use your PCs boot on the fly key, F9 (HP) and tap the space bar so the USB can boot. ( boot on  fly key varies by makers of PC (OEM rules)

Ok linux is booted.
I will go in to some details below.
Jump Index.,
Testing old PCs with Linux CD
Cruising for files to backup?
Windows Crystaldiskinfo?
Linux commands or no sound
Burn DVD?
Burn USB with RUFUS

On modern PCs BIOS has disktest and memory test but are simple simon rudimentary programs but if  it says its bad it is bad, if it says good, do  not believe it.
Run Linux boot demo mode now.
If your newer PC has BIOS HDD test and MEMory test, run that first.

The Linux boot media boot
s and you  can test vast things on your suspected bad PC. 
You can see Linux runs great, with no errors?  and passes memory tests, and runs disk tests , or test wifi , test Ethernet ports, test USB ports, test CD drive ,DVD drive, BlueRAY drives and more, hell you can do it all.
If you have the Linux boot disk or USB
This is only like 4 clicks to see if the HDD is bad,  the below is only for showing how to make a lunux boot media and shows what errors look like and why.

HDD testing,   
These tests
are all free of cost , only blakk media costs are not free.
HDD drives are like water buckets.
The bucket (hdd) can be good /bad or weak (weak means the bucket leaks )_
HDD are all born defective, every one is, they all have bad sectors , and the maker logically (magic) swaps in spare sectors, and as  drive ages it grows more bad sectors and are repaired all unseen by you.
If you learn to read the SMART data, you open your eyes and see if your HDD ran out of spare sectors.
Parameter 05 tells you 2 things, how many spares you have and how many were used so far.
When this runs out Windows 10 even warns of this on the desktop, HDD is going South, bad) Do not be shocked all do this, not one HDD lasts for ever, most  die at 10 year mark.
If you make the error or reloading fresh Windows or worse cloning a bad HDD, you will wasted all day long or week long doing nothing, but fail . Stop and learn to test the HDD first !

The best live OS USB boot is my favorite Ubuntu 16/17 or newer.
Booted to DVD or USB sticks. (I can boot even to SD-Mem cards)
BURNING 101: Burning means programmng the stick or DVD-r.   (USB stick, is a  EEPROM flash memory drive)
First step in all cases is download the ISO file from the source.
The DVD-R  media (using Imgburn (free))  (cost is 50 cents)
The flash USB stick ($5 cost 8GB) with this same ISO using RUFUS, Get RUFUS that is  CLEAN here,  for free)

First we download the ISO image for Linux.

I like Ubuntu v17 up.

After burning any USB stick:(or DVD)
Use now,  the windows task bar, click the USB ICON and eject USB drive now. (if not , you  risk a corrupted USB stick) the stick is now ready.''
You be burned. The stick or DVD is now ready to use.
Safeboot is off and legacy mode On.

On my HP F9 is boot on the fly key. (others PC have there  own key rules (RTM)

F9 BIOS window POPS!
I down arrow 1 time, for my Cruzer stick.and hit ENTER key  (or the DVD if using that)

Next we must  must "hit any key to boot":  this is called the El Torito rules to  boot external  media,  I hammer the space bar and the USB now boots.
The next screen click Try Me or try Ubuntu. This is DEMO mode, not install mode.
This is the first Linux window, 2 choices, click TRY.

Cick here this allows you to  search the disktest app.  Just type DISK in the  search box, when open.

 Next type disktest. To run Disktest program Application. (some versions of Linux show only "DISK" as the test)

 Then  Click the HDD left side, that  you want to test. (the test is harmless)

 Modern disks, all have SMART features on the drive,  old disks do not, PATA does not from year 2000, but most 99% of all SATA drives are SMART certified and compliant. (I will not cover SSD or M.2 drive tests)


Pick Smart tests.  next
The Good then the bad are shown after the next photo,  198, must be 0 or  the HDD is bad. (under windows 198. = C6 hex) The parameters are numbered and have names.
The name Uncorrectable must be zero (0) if not at zero that means the HDD ran out of spare sectors, (learn that all HDD do self repairs, and it it runs out of spares, the HDD IS DOOMED)
Think like this, your car has 4 flat tires, sure car can be driven  but ..... you get the idea, no? This HDD below passes all tests.

Now Bad HDD next and all following photos
The spares are gone  , now  bad sectors grow ,day by day, forever.

NOTE it even says Spare Area.

Parameter 05, is how many were moved. (hint it ran out at 100)  512 bytes/sector, times 100, it ends.
 Each HDD you buy , can have more spare sectors available. (depends on size of drive and quality paid for, Enterprise drives are bests.)

Learn that WHEN the HDD runs out of spares sectors, then it reports bad sectors to Windows, and Windows can  NOT cure the bucket that leaks, ever, it will try, you can run diskchk and try to fix it but will return bad again.
What Windows does is like the guy  on the  Titanic did , rearranging deck chairs, as it sunk. (running diskchk)
The OS CAN NOT  REPAIR BAD MEDIA, it can only hide it until more errors happen, as sure as rain  it fail fail again, and if this happens to the OS Files, as sure as rain too, then it runs slow and acts like 3 legged PIG.
Sure as rain 3, if you wait and watch it, BSOD the Blue screens of death are for sure next.
Why not replace the drive the day that SMART told you it was bad.  (be savvy ,be alert and be proative.)

Using wonderful Linux to back up data off your old bad hdd (if possible at all , whole or in part: 
Linux is
running and I am just cruising the HDD (or SSD)
We are doing this for 2 reasons to see if files are missing and to backup personal data.
Then next topic below is just me looking about the drive,  to see if my STUFF or Windows THINGS are all still there.  (W10 disk below...)
I check for files not missing and folders not missing  and I check that all partitions from MS, HP_tools and HP-Recover are not missing nor my personal partitions, missing or messed up.
If you backup your data , weekly  or as you need, then all these facts stated here are obvious.  (DO NOT USE MICROSOFT FREE BACKUP Software, it  is buggy, I use "EaseUS TODO" backup free..
Last is showing what Linux can do,  you can find and see if files are missing?  (Do not fear Linux, ok)
Windows 10’s Fast Startup (called Fast Boot in Windows 8) issues.
Linux my balk at looking at say C: files, on a newer PCs, W8 and new PCs, but cured by turning off FASTBOOT feature. (the reasons is because Linux sees the disk in hibernate mode, (untoucable that way)
Worst case is linux likes it in hibernat mode, then copies files that are not corrupted, (Do not copy files ever (with Linux) to the PC HDD with Fast Startup turned on or you will be very unhappy) Turn Fast Startup OFF.
Knoppix 7.6 , the start button works, you run the disk checks easy, click "start + accessories + disk"
I am just browsing files in the C: (W10 boot media)

Keep in mind , LINUX sees all things, all formats that windows can not see. (linux makes the best OS for finding lost files and backing them up that is free of  cost, unlike costly forensic recovery applications )
It does not hide things from you in most cases,  like Windows does, for Linux structures, also do not delete things you don't understand. (nor move them or rename things...) {  do copy lost files to say a USB memory stick now}
Newer Linux my hide files on a newer PC, with W8/10 FAST BOOT turned on, but there is command to bypass that block, (google it is best see how to remove hiberfile!)
This limit is just fastboot, turned on in w10, so turn it off. Then backup data using linux.

This next sections is strictly for OLD PC's that have no DVD drive, (or can't boot to USB sticks) Year 2001?

Testing  very  OLD PC's and for sure those lacking DVD or Blu-Ray optical drive , but only CD present !
OR THE PC can not boot from USB memory sticks ever.... ( nearer year 2000 relic PC's)
The solution is simple use Lubuntu (L means Ubuntu Linux light) that burns to any CD-R made.  It fits on 700MB CD's no issues.

Warning most OLD PC's have a dead RTC NVRAM coin cell battery (aka CMOS) and will drive anyone mad until replaced. (life span is 5-7 years and they go bad)

There are just 3 steps here, (in the Macro) 
1: Make the :CD disk on a working PC,  then
2:  Boot the CD disk to Linux demo mode (try me, mode or as we say Linux Live)
3: Last run the DISK UTILITY.  (easy no? just  3 steps)
I will now detail those tiny steps. (in the Micro) This old linux  ISO is frozen at  April  23, 2012 (last one ever) 
  1. Find a good PC with a good CD burner (CD-R media blank, even Walmart(tm) sells media in the puter department near Camera's)
  2. Get this ISO file from Lubuntu. 12.04 (no newer allowed! for old PCs), pick the first one at the top of the screen. intel X86 (means legacy boxes)
  3. Get Imgburn (free)   click write image to disk mode,  then click browse icon top center, find ISO and click ok.  It now tells you its like 721MB in size, CD are limited to 700 or 800 MB,  (different brands diff. sizes)
  4. Click the RED X icon seen below.
  5. On the next screen  there is a yellow folder icon as seen as RED Y below, you click to find your ISO above, do that next.
  6. Insert one blank CD-R disk  into the burner.    (if the drive is bad , or the CD is not CD-R the C
  7. Burn it by clicking BLUE arrow below, done. hear fancy song played, ,music only.  (means success)
  8. Move this new CD just burned to the sick PC.
  9. I boot the sick PC in the CD bay, with boot to CD turned on in BIOS, and boot order set to CD first ! I hammer the space bar, to boot CD, and it does   and  I get asked my  language?, I pick English if true.
  10. Then a menu, shows up, I  pick TRY Lubuntu (means run in LIVE MODE) do so.
  11. See now a delay and a  black screen, then blue screen with 12.04 then back to black screen  and then  blue waves. (it's a CD they are slow  give it up to 5 minutes) The older CD drives are the most slow.(be patient)
  12. You now have a desktop screen,  click start button bottom left,  same place as MS W7 and older. Looks like  white bird icon to me there.
  13. Pick Accessories and in there pick Disk Utility.
  14. Click the drive you want to check on the left side panel.  My PC has 3 drives, my LT has 2. (most have 1)
  15. Then see the report on the right side, see green ball ?, means IT THINKS the  drive may be ok.  (but I never believe this)
  16. Click SMART DATA there, check that page for parameter 198. (same as crystaldisk C6 hex)  value must be 0 or the hdd is bad. end story end job testing. buy a new SSD and upgrade it.
  17. If that is ok, then we next press button BENCH MARK, do not do the read/write , only read.  (that  name "BENCH" means performance testing)
  18. Run the Bench, it see if it looks normal, or even see live errors reading , the Write mode only works on true empty HDD.(avoid write, or risk losing data.!)
  19. That is it, the HDD  tests what you do next is your call, reload W7 ?  If the PC is  infected or corrupted,  reload windows or linux.
  20. I tested this on an old 2002 PC, desktop, and works great.
  21. If you get this far you can also backup data, if you think the HDD is bad, or weak or failing backup now, while the gett'n is good.

fif not seen click mode and pick EZ mode picker, bingo., then click icon next to left X

The CD_R is burned and is ready now, below  ,  the ISO file is seen at Y and Z  below, Y is not grayed out, means the CD-R is ready to burn. 
On the right panel shows CD ID data, read off the blank media. (CD and DVD both have identification data storage on disk, telling every one what you own, or have for media)
If the right panel below is blank , the  CD must be CD-R (recordable, even sold in Walfmart cheap )
To burn, click the Blue ARROW below.
This program here, I do love... simple and super effective. and 100% free and not some hacked up or cracked or cloned Nero program.
I can burn with just 2 clicks (not counting the browse actions on yellow Y icon below)
You can not just copy the ISC file (drag  and drop) to the CD_r , the ISO must be burned to the  disk , or it will not boot ever.

A single CD-r costs about 50 cents now (USDollars) in pack of 10 for 5 bucks. (the price is rising due to lower world usage)
Near free in my book,  (pocket change?) so burn one try it, better yet do so and keep it handy and then jump to line 8 above.  (boot the CD now) On my PC power on hit F9 , pick CD  to boot and then tap  the space bar to boot CD.
Tap means hammer gently the space bar (aka: hit any key)  do not try to find a key marked "ANY" you will fail. (LOL)

If your relic PC will boot USB sticks this is better and faster way to run Linux.
For a $5 USB stick 8GB, cost  you can run Rufus (free) and burn any LINUX ISO, even full blown Linux demo disk.
You can click the tiny icon of CD ,seen next to ISO image and point  to your ISO. Then burn it to F: (or where yours is)

I am testing the speed of the HDD below, using Linux. If this fails or runs too slow, the HDD is bad. (old HDD do run slower) The below is a very very old HDD using the old parallel IDE flat ribbon cable, and is slow.
The IDE drives (PATA) do not have SMART tests then. So all we can do is run simple speed tests on it. (I'd retire this pig, and I keep one just to show the below very old 18 years old drive.)

Below is Bench mark running Lubuntu 12 (13+ years old real old 2004 intel mother board too) I used old   Ubuntu 12,

Results of Read Only Benchmark above.  This old PATA drive is good, but very slow. (as all were then)
For a  shock to your mind /system, see my M.2 speeds

Some of my favorite Linux commands:
To get linux version in a terminal type uname -a (enter) mine Shows, Ubuntu 16.04.2 and kernel or   Ubuntu 17,
Control +ALT +T = terminal window.

To see all PCI devices type,  lspci -tv
use sudo prefix to give commands as  a super user. (super user , do it means)
To see all hardware type sudo lshw
The ls means list, the hw means hardware.
To find audio chips, type sudo lshw | grep -i audio  

There may be 2 chips,  one for HDMI on the GPU card and the normal sound chip.
lsusb to see usb sound devices.(for example)
to get CL help for a command type lspci --help

To test sound in Ubuntu click the top left key switch, and type sound
then Run the sound test. (easy as pie)
If I have sound turned off in BIOS, Ubuntu sounds are dead same as W10 is under same conditions.

The free windows program,  C6 must be zero , never higher or the HDD is bad. 05 parameter must not be above threshold spec)

Smart means = Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology
this runs in windows only,  This is a BAD HDD. Raw means (read from drive this data)
Uncorrectable must be 0 RAW or the HDD IS TOAST <FURBAR, EOL end LIFE for SURE. This non zero means the spare sectors have be CONSUMED, and that folks is a bad bad HDD.

HDD suspected as bad: (compact short story) with some joking around .
  • Windows 10 popped a screen tiny windows said S.M.A.R.T SHOWS BAD HDD  and is TRUE.
  • HDD makes funny noises, it is bad. (clicking load and like made is a bad HDD, weak tiny ticking is ok that is head seeks, learn the difference easy , listen to any good HDD)
  • HDD silent, is BAD , or gee cables to it fell off. (silence here is not golden,  normal is this, at power up )
  • BIOS shows in boot options , no HDD found,  means it is DEAD.
  • BIOS HDD test fails, 100% sure it is  bad we are.
  • Crystaldiskinfo or same in Linux Disktest shows C6(198.) not =  to zero , oops the HDD is going bad fast now, UNSTOPPABLE THAT ! (and soon and pain max, crashing and data loss for sure)
  • Or after landing on the moon, Neil Alden Armstrong saw his HDD Puking CRC errors. (he dreamed this)  WD said 15k feet altitude max, not the moon nor in orbit) LOVE YOU NEIL!< RIP!   ( If the heads can't fly, it will die)
Captain Obvious, possible Implosion? LOL!  My guess is USPS dropped it, from 15,000 feet up. (or THOR playing here?) (this is a DOD/CIA/NSA job here)

Solutions: buy a new one, and load windows or linux ?  Try free Ubuntu V16+ , you may love it. I do.
End saga.

means USB boot USB memory thumb drives. (sold in vast shapes, even "Mickey Mouse" shapes)   I like the fastest ones. Aka, a Boot Stick? Or  stick of RAM (DDR)
SD-Memory: Come in very very fast versions that I use, and you can use the smaller ones with a 50 cent adaptor if you PC like the larger one.(as mine does)  The video class work best.
CD compact  disk or optical disk drive. CD-R means recordable CD. same as DVD-R is. (best is to keep a burned DVD with Ubuntu v17 on it ,handy at all times.)
Sadly newer thin Notebooks have no Optical media drives now , so only STICK works for add in media,  now. The last good LAPTOP is HP Zbook, G3 with DVD onboard.  I now have DVD USB external drive that even boots.
HDD is hard disk drive
SDD is Solid state Drive, vastly faster than above. (and lasts longer, IMO)
USB is universal serial bus ports.
PATA = parallel ATA disk ports, slow. (antic relic PC used this, avoid  them like the Plegue)
SATA = serial ATA,  disk ports , super fast and SATA3 fastest, SATA 2 is overkill in most cases (but not RAID). (eSata, external port even hot pluggable )
Burn, the act of programming any DVD or CD our USB serial memory stick.
BIOS, Basic Input output system, HP calls it SETUP, for some odd reason,  all PCs have BIOS. (or UEFI now, UEFI is SECURE BIOS) BIOS runs even with all drives missing.
Linux is a free OS,  kernal 4.13.2  You can run Linux under Window VM or run  Windows XP up under Linux VM.  Ubuntu 17,  gets patched way faster than Anything MS sells.
VM is a virtual machine.   (software emulation of hardware ,example W10 Hyper-V) 
SMART = S.M.A.R.T = this.
Ethernet port,  the fasted connection you will every have on any Gigalan port or router, plus FIOS or 16-channel cable modems,(I'm using 16 now)  (some wifi can go fast with GREAT EFFORT ,COSTS AND LUCK)
Why fear a 15 foot Cat. 5/6 cable for $8 we run wifi here as cell phone backup. if 3/4/5 G dies (or slams in to DATA MAX, the jokers...)

Special thanks go to ,. Mr. Linus Trovalds.

version 3. 9-19-2017