Almost all major computer makers ship their computers with a customized version of Windows already installed on the hard disk drive. In too many cases, they don't bother to include a separate copy of the operating system and other preloaded software; they leave it to new computer's owners to make their own recovery disks.
You need a set of recovery disks to reinstall Windows and other software if the primary disk drive fails, or if you want to restore the contents of the hard drive to its original condition. On a laptop computer, you can also use the recovery disks to restore Windows and other software when you replace the original disk drive with a larger one.
Recovery disks are a last resort tool for restoring your computer after a major failure has occurred. When you use them, you wipe everything from your hard disk drive and reconstruct the drive from scratch. Don't use your recovery disks unless every other problem-solving method has not worked.
If your copy of Windows came directly from Microsoft, or if you received a Windows XP CD with your computer, you don't need recovery disks. You can use the Windows XP CD to reload Windows and ignore the information in this section.
Because a disk drive can fail without any advance warning, it's important to make a set of recovery disks soon after you start using your new computer.
To create your recovery disks, look in the Start Programs menu for a submenu of special programs supplied by the computer's manufacturer. On IBM ThinkPad computers, this is called ThinkVantage; on HP and Compaq computers it's PC Help & Tools. Your own system may use a different name, but it's probably buried someplace in the Programs menu. If you can't find it, consult your manual.
When you run the Create Recovery Disks command, the program displays instructions for inserting CDs in the drive and recording the individual disks. Don't forget to label each disk after it comes out of the drive. Keep the recovery disks in a safe location, along with all of your other software disks and manuals.
If you lose your recovery disks, or if the hard disk breaks down before you get around to making your recovery disks (too many computer owners never bother to make them), you can probably obtain a set of disks directly from your computer manufacturer's technical support center. Look on their Web site for ordering instructions.
If the drive that failed also contains important data files (and you don't have backup copies), you should buy and install a new disk drive as your boot disk and load Windows from the recovery CD onto the new drive (set the old drive as a secondary drive, at least until you can rescue your files). Either that or use a data recovery program such as GetDataBack (use another computer to download it from http://www.runtime.org/) before you use your recovery CDs. If you ever have to use your recovery disks to restore your hard drive, follow these steps:
When recovery is complete, you have to completely reconfigure and personalize your system.