View Full Version : FAQ #47 - How do I reinstall Windows with the recovery CD?

26-08-2004, 10:13 PM
FAQ #47 - How do I reinstall Windows with the recovery CD that came with my computer?

Originally written by Elwin Way

The idea behind a recovery CD is that it reinstates your computer to its original setup. This means that your computer will be the same as it left the shop after using your recovery CD.

Using your recovery CD usually means inserting the CD into your CD-ROM drive and rebooting your computer. The CD is set up to only work with your particular computer, for example if you have a recovery CD for a HP Pavillion 6440 it will not work on any other HP Pavillion unless it is a 6440.

After you have rebooted the CD will run. On some computers you may be given an option or two:

• Full format and restore: This will fully reformat your hard drive (wiping everything on it!) before reinstalling the original operating system.

• Quick format and restore: Selecting this option will perform a quick format of your hard drive before reinstalling the original operating system. A quick format only overwrites the boot sector and partition table, whereas a full format overwrites the entire disk. Again, you will lose everything on your hard drive.

• No format and restore: Doing this will just reinstall the original operating system. Programs and files will be kept unless overwritten by the operating system. These are usually device files etc. which are normally found within the directory that the operating system resides. As an example, if you reinstall Windows, then everything in the C:\Windows directory will be lost and overwritten by the reinstall. Another caveat is that most programs that were installed before using the restore CD will have to be re-installed. This option is not generally recommended unless you have a lot of files that need to be kept are not able to be backed up.

• Selective restore: This will restore the programs you select (like FAX software or other OEM programs) that may be damaged or otherwise removed. With older HP recovery CDs you will need to enter the specific path names of the items you want restored. Newer HPs and some Compaqs let you run the selective restore from within Windows, or through an interface after rebooting.


1) Not all recovery CDs have these options - some will just ask you if you are sure you want to recover!

2) You should also perform a full backup if you can before using your recovery CD.

3) You may also (depending on hardware) install another operating system if you so wish. Just because your PC came with Windows 98 doesn't necessarily mean that is the only OS you can run.

4) Be aware that some recovery CDs, eg on some PC Company computers, only reinstall Windows and none of the drivers or apps that were on it when it left the shop. These are not true "recovery" CDs and you will need to ensure that you have discs for drivers and programs before using the "recovery" CD.

Original FAQ available here (http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=21773&message=58323).