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Windows Disk Recovery Guide


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Because recovery disks are very helpful in situations like where you've been infected with a deadly virus or spyware, or you accidentally deleted something that was part of the system. Here there will be some guides on making recovery disks for your Windows operating system.


Windows Vista Recovery Disk Guide




Windows Vista is stable and safe to use in most situations. It is a powerful operating system that is easy to use and does a lot of its own housekeeping. But if you end up with a deadly virus or simply have some software and hardware conflicts, you're going to want to run a recovery routine to save your system from having to be reformatted. Starting from scratch is a monumental pain, so the next best thing is to make a Windows Vista recovery disk.



Make a Windows Vista Recovery Disk




Step 1

Start Windows Vista and log on to the administrator account. This will make it easier to get access to all of your most important files.


Step 2

Place a blank CD-R or DVD-R into the appropriate optical drive. There is no need to format this disk.


Step 3

Consider creating a folder on your desktop in which to place all of your most important files. This will make it easier to create a simple recovery disk later.


Step 4

Copy important files from their current locations to either the temporary folder you created, or simply right-click on them and select the "Send to" option followed by the drive letter of the optical drive. This will automatically spool the file to be prepped for writing to the disk.


Step 5

Burn all of the files you wish to keep for later recovery to the optical drive. This will not only allow you to install the files to the drive when you need to perform a system recovery, but it will also permit you to avoid formatting the hard drive.


Overall Tips & Warnings

Consider creating a partition on your hard drive specifically for Windows Vista recovery. This will save you the trouble of creating a recovery disk, but it is also far more advanced (you need to be able to adjust your system's BIOS to detect the partition, for example).

Always download the latest drivers for your hardware and software prior to creating a recovery disk. This will allow you to add those important files to the disk and save you the effort of upgrading later.

If you do not have a Windows Vista installation disk (some computer manufacturers do not include backup software in their packaging), then you will need to call the manufacturer and request one. You should be provided one free of charge.

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Windows XP SP2 Recovery Guide




Ideally, a recovery disc should act as a safety net should anything disagreeable (hard drive crash, virus, spyware attack, driver corruption, etc.) happen to your hard drive or its data. A good recovery disc will let you reinstall Windows or a required driver to fix a minor problem, or restore all your backed-up data if need be.


To prepare a recovery CD, you'll need: (1) an original Windows XP CD, (2) a valid Windows product key, (3) a collection of your most essential hardware drivers, and (4) a copy of your backup software so you can access your archived data.


Step 1

The first ingredient, the Windows XP CD, may prove the most troublesome, simply because many manufacturers omit it in lieu of some sort of customized "express install" recovery disc. If Windows came preinstalled on your PC but the manufacturer didn't provide a full Windows XP CD, contact the company and ask for one (you did pay for it, after all). In most cases, you'll get one for free, no questions asked.


Step 2

But you're not out of the woods yet. Now that Service Pack 2 is out and has been force-fed to most of the Windows XP machines on the planet, your pre-SP2 Windows XP disc may not do what you need it to. (This next step isn't necessary if you already have an SP2 installation CD.)


Here's the problem: Once you upgrade to SP2, you won't ever be able to install the original version of Windows XP over it; you have thus rendered the ancient practice of reinstalling the operating system impossible.


The solution is to create a new hybrid installation CD from your original Windows XP CD and a special version of SP2, a process known as slipstreaming. (Etymology: a term from fluid mechanics, also used in Star Trek: Voyager.)


Step 3

To create a slipstreamed Windows XP-SP2 CD, first create a new folder called "xp" in the root folder of your hard drive. (You'll need about a gigabyte of free space.) Insert your original Windows XP CD, start Windows Explorer, and then navigate to your CD drive (usually D:\). Highlight everything in the root folder of the CD and copy it all to the C:\xp folder you just created.


Next, go to Microsoft's Web site and search for the "Windows XP Service Pack 2 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers." Download the 272MB file, WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2 -ENU.exe, and save it to a new folder on your hard drive, C:\sp2.


Open a Command Prompt window (Start | All Programs | Accessories | Command Prompt), and then type this command at the prompt:


c:\sp2\WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU /integrate:c:\xp


If all goes well, the process should take a minute or two and then conclude with a simple completed message box. (If it doesn't work, then your copy of Windows XP can't be slipstreamed.)


Step 4

Build an XP-SP2 Recovery Disc


The Elusive Product Key


Like it or not, you'll need a valid product key to reinstall Windows XP or install any Microsoft service pack down the road. Without it, your recovery disc will be naught but a coaster for the cup of coffee you're likely to need.


You can find the 25-digit product key on the hologram-laden certificate of authenticity, on the Windows XP CD sleeve, or on the Microsoft sticker on your PC. If you can't locate your key, you can get one from your PC manufacturer or directly from Microsoft (provided that you can prove you own a valid Windows license).


Once you have the product key in hand, write it directly on the original Windows XP CD with a soft marker pen (and also on the CD-R you're creating here) so you won't have to scramble for it in a pinch.


If you want, you can set up what Microsoft calls an "answer file" to enter your product key automatically so you don't have to type it in later on. On your original Windows XP CD (Professional Edition only), navigate to the \Support\Tools folder, double-click on DEPLOY.CAB, and then double-click on Setupmgr.exe to open the Windows Setup Manager wizard. When prompted, choose Create a new answer file and then Windows Unattended Installation. For the User Interaction Level, choose Provide defaults; when asked about the Distribution Folder, answer No. Finally, you'll see a new window, into which you can specify defaults; select Providing the Product Key on the left, type your product key in the text fields on the right, and then save the unattend.txt file into your C:\xp folder. For more information, open the setupmgr.chm file, also found in DEPLOY.CAB.


Step 5

The Windows XP SP2 setup files should now consume about 600MB , leaving about 100MB free when they are placed on a garden-variety CD-R. Use this space to include drivers for your most important hardware devices. You can download the appropriate drivers from the hardware manufacturers' Web sites.


In the C:\xp folder, create a new folder called DRIVERS, and then create a subfolder for each driver. For instance, create a VIDEO folder for your display adapter drivers, a NETWORK folder for your Ethernet or wireless-network adapter driver, and MODEM for your modem driver (if needed). Make sure to include all drivers and software you will need to get your PC connected to the Internet. Once your Internet connection is up and running, you'll be able to download the less-vital drivers, such as those for your printer and sound card.


Step 6

To be certain all these drivers will work when you need them, don't use anything you haven't personally tested. And don't forget to expand any ZIP files or self-extracting EXE files now, so that you'll be able to access the individual driver files during Windows setup if needed.


Finally, if there's room on your CD-R, make a folder for your backup software so that you'll be able to get your data off your backup media. Likewise, include any SCSI, tape drive, or FireWire drivers you might need to access your backup devices.


Step 7

Next, you make your recovery CD bootable by using IsoBuster (www.smart-projects.net/isobuster) to extract the boot loader from your original Windows XP CD. In IsoBuster, select your CD drive from the list, highlight the Bootable CD folder on the left, and then drag the BootImage.img file from IsoBuster to your hard drive.


Step 9

Now it's time to burn a new CD. You'll need CD-burning software capable of creating a bootable CD, such as Roxio Easy Media Creator 7, PC Magazine's current Editors' Choice ( www.roxio.com ), or Nero Burning ROM 6 or later ( www.nero.com ). (Sonic Solutions is acquiring Roxio's software division, but there are no plans to change the brand name.) Just drag the entire contents of the C:\xp folder to your CD project, and then use the BootImage.img file for the boot image data (refer to your CD-burning software manual for details). When you're ready, burn the CD.

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