Conclusion: Repair, Don't Reinstall
Our look at these tools illustrates that even if Windows refuses to boot, the game isn't over - not by a long shot. You don't need to lose everything, because backing up data is no problem with BartPE and Knoppix, and even viruses can be successfully tackled.
The Knoppix CD is created in no time and can be used even without extensive knowledge of Linux. Its drawback is its lack of write access to NTFS partitions. That said, Knoppix makes an excellent showing as a data recovery system. Browser, Office package and other useful extra programs on the CD are also advantages.
The BartCD created with PE Builder satisfies most if not all of our wishes for a recovery program. The plug-in configuration system makes it very flexible and extremely powerful - almost all programs can be made to run somehow with the BartCD. However, this functionality comes at the cost of potentially requiring excellent Windows skills and a great deal of time.
In contrast, creating the Avast! BART CD takes just a few minutes, with no time-consuming configuration necessary. At $299, the cost of a license is too steep for most individuals, but for companies it is a worthwhile acquisition, especially given that updates for a full year are included.