Early last week I managed to make my WAMP server unusable. Well, I didn’t – a Windows “update” did by somehow toasting something leading to an inability to boot. The immediate problem wasn’t so much that the server was dead to the world, but that I couldn’t access a directory of teaching materials (scanned texts) that I need for the coming semester and would be hard-pressed to get re-scanned on time.
After getting no help from our IT person (no surprises there), I tried to find the original installation CDs but to no avail (moving office tends to lead to loss of stuff, I find). Realizing that I would have to eventually install another OS, I first tried to access the directory and thus save the data with some management software. Problem was, I could see the files but not transfer them over to a USB drive (the software refused to recognize the external drive).
To the rescue came PuppyLinux. Downloaded and burned an 60 meg ISO using my Macbook. Booted the dead box from the CD. Mounted the Windows partition and the USB drive. Copied the files. Done. All in less than 35 minutes.