In the old days, when you bought a computer it came with a set of disks that you could use to reinstall Windows completely. Unfortunately those who were less than honest used these disks to install Windows on lots of computers illegally, so the standard became to include a set of disks that would allow you to return your computer to “factory” condition, the way it looked when you took it out of the box. These disks would only work for your brand of computer and, in some cases, only for your particular model.
This is an abbreviated history, of course, but my point is that now you don’t even get the disks. You are expected to make them yourself. What happens is that your computer prompts you to make a set of recovery disks during your initial setup. These disks are to be used in case you have trouble starting your computer or you have the need to start over due to a nasty viral infection. I was working with someone this week who needed a recovery disk, but didn’t have one. That interaction prompted me to write this blog article to urge you to create a recover disk if you haven’t already done so.
Since there is no such thing as having too many safety nets, I will encourage you to make more than one copy just in case. Most computer manufacturers walk you through this process when you first start your computer. For those who didn’t take the hint, running the process manually is easy. Warning: There have been manufacturers who only allowed you to create one set of these disks. Who understands why? If you are unable to create a set of recovery / rescue disks for any reason, contact the manufacturer of your computer to find out how you can obtain a copy. Some of them will sell you a copy for a small fee. The piece of mind is well worth it. Luckily, most of you will be able to make your own copies.
Windows 7 Instructions
Windows 7 calls it a system repair disc. The instructions to create a system repair disk are located here:
Windows 8 Instructions
Windows 8 calls it a recovery drive. The default is to use a USB (Thumb) drive instead of CDs / DVDs. If you want to use the thumb drive option, instructions can be found here:
If you want to create CDs / DVDs for Windows 8 recovery, instructions are located here:
Scroll down the page to the Windows 8 section vs Windows 8.1. Do not be thrown by the fact that you will have to search for Windows 7 File Recovery. These instructions are correct. Microsoft … blah … blah …blah.
Windows 8.1 Instructions
Windows 8.1 (for those of us who upgraded from Windows only offers the option to create a recovery drive using a USB (Thumb) drive. Just follow the instructions in the Windows 8 section.
Creating CDs / DVDs for Windows 8.1 involves using a Windows 8.1 installation disk. If you prefer this option, instructions can be found here: