How to Use a Recovery Disc in Windows - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Most PCs sold today come with recovery discs, or sets of discs; these let you restore your computer to the same condition it was in when you bought it. This solution is drastic. Imagine leveling your home and rebuilding it to fix a pluming problem. Welcome to the world of computers where, sometimes, in order to fix things you have to wipe them out and then rebuild them.

Basically, it works like this:

  1. Insert the recovery disc into your PC’s optical drive.

  2. Restart the computer (or turn it on).

  3. Boot from the optical disc.

  4. Obey the directions on the screen for restoring your PC.

When you’re done, the PC exists just as it did when you first bought it: Windows is restored, as is any additional software supplied with your computer (though some software might not be included on the main recovery disc).

  • The recovery disc works best only for fixing software problems — specifically, massive damage to the Windows operating system. The disc is ideal for recovering after a virus or another type of malware is found.

  • The recovery disc doesn’t work to fix hardware problems. If the hard drive is kaput, the recovery disc doesn’t help you. It does help if you buy and install a replacement hard drive.

  • Before using a recovery disc, consider running the System File Checker (SFC).

  • A recovery disc is also part of a backup-restore operation. After recovering the computer to its pristine state, restore your backup files. That recovers your computer fully, bringing it back to the state it was in when the last backup was performed.

  • Sometimes, you must use several discs to restore your PC. First, you restore Windows. Then you use subsequent discs to install drivers for your PC’s hardware.

  • Don’t forget about updates! After you restore your computer, immediately use Windows Update to install all necessary updates. You may need to install updates in a series, which can take some time.

  • You may need further information on Backup and Restore.

  • You may need further information on malware.