When you bought computers or laptops in the past, it would usually be accompanied by the manufacturer’s restore disc. As the name suggest, you would use this disc to ‘restore’ your computer’s state back to when you first powered it on.. Of course, you would only use this method when all other troubleshooting techniques fails as all data and files that have not been backed up will be lost. However, the restore disc isn’t an actual Vista installation disc at all. One reason why you would want an actual Vista installation DVD is to recovery or repair your Vista installation by booting into its recovery environment. In this post, I’ll go over two methods in which you can create your own Vista and Windows 7 recovery DVD so that you can be better prepared when trouble comes knocking in the future. In order to understand why you would actually want to create this recovery disc in the first place, I’ll go over the uses of the recovery disc itself.
It’s inevitable that computers can and will go wrong during its lifetime of operation and one of the most irritating problem is start-up failures. From restart loops to the dreadful black screen with the blinking cursor, users need a simple way to repair or recover their computers from such events. By booting in the recovery environment, you are allowed to run a couple of diagnostic and recovery options in hopes of slapping your computer back to reality.
While these procedures cannot 100% guarantee you of fixing the problem, these are very good baby step troubleshooting techniques.
Download and Creating the Vista Recovery DVDIf you really can’t download the torrent files for whatever reasons, don’t worry as there are other ways of getting the disc as well. Easiest method is to just ask a friend who has a computer/laptop with the same operating system and then creating the disc on his/her computer. If that’s not possible as well, then you’ll need a direct link download. Here is the link for Windows Vista and here for Windows 7. I take no credit for upload of these files. If the link goes down by the time you are reading this, simply send me an email and I will personally host them up again.
The good folks at NeoSmart have hosted the Vista and Windows 7 recovery DVD ISO image file. However, it can only be downloaded via Bittorrent. So, you’ll need to be able to use a Bittorent client like uTorrent, Azureus, BitTornado, or Bittorrent to download the 124MB or so ISO file. Once you have done so, simply burn it to a DVD or CD as a image file with whatever burning application you have now or you can choose one from here.
If you have a working computer that boots into Vista or Windows 7, you can also make a recovery disc without having to download the image file itself. Vista and Windows 7 allows you to create the recovery disc *before* a crisis occurs so please do so and store it in a safe place! All you need is a blank DVD or CD.
In both operating systems, you can start the procedure in one of two ways. The first method if by using menus to actually open the recovery disc creator executable file. In Vista, drill down to Start menu > All programs > Maintenance > Create a Recovery Disc. In Windows 7, open the Control Panel > Backup and Restore > Create a System Repair Disc. The second method is to directly run the restore disc creator’s executable file itself. Open a Run prompt or simply paste the following into the Start Menu’s search box:
and hit enter. Either method will open the recovery disc creator wizard. Make sure you have a blank DVD or CD in your burner and hit the Create Disc button to begin.
Using the Recovery Disc
Once you have burned the recovery disc, you’ll want to test it out. Insert the recovery disc and reboot your computer. Now, depending on your motherboard and BIOS model, you’ll need to set the boot options to have your computer boot from your CD/DVD drive first, rather than the usual hard drive. If done correctly, the disc should begin loading files into memory. You will then be presented with the Vista or Windows 7 installation screen. Remember, the recovery disc is exactly just that. There are no installation files on it whatsoever so you cannot actually begin installing Vista or Windows 7 itself. Clicking on the Install Now button will only present you a fail message telling you so. Instead, you’ll want to click on the Repair Your Computer option instead.
The computer will then attempt to scan your hard drive in locating your operating system version. After that, you will finally be presented with the System Recovery Options menu and it is here that you can select the different tasks to perform in hopes of recovering your computer. Like mentioned earlier, these tasks may or may not remedy the problem but it is definitely worth taking a shot at.
# Startup Repair
This is one the main reason why you would want to create a recovery disc. So many things can cause your computer to not boot properly and so choosing a Startup Repair will allow it to scan your computer for startup problems. One of the main reason for not having a bootable computer is due to damaged or missing critical system files and this tool will certainly detect it if that is the case.
# System Restore
Another very valuable tool. System Restore allows you to restore your computer’s state back to a date where everything ran fine (before the problem occurred). System Restore does not alter or delete your data files so do not worry about that. System Restore does alter registry files and system files so rolling back to a point before a virus deleted some registry files can help you recover your computer.
# CompletePC Restore
Windows Vista and 7 Ultimate has a backup feature similar to Norton Ghost and other backup utilities in that it allows you to create whole images of your computer. This image includes every single file you have on your computer as well as the configuration files, registry files and programs and applications that was installed during the time the image was created. I wrote about a free imaging utility called Macrium Reflect for users who do not have the Ultimate edition of Vista. This recovery option will allow you to restore a CompletePC image to your computer. Use with caution!
# Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
Choosing this option will reboot your computer and start the diagnosing on your computer’s RAM chips. RAM is a very critical hardware component and errors can create a unstable computing environment. This tool will detect if there are any errors in your RAM chips and if there are, you should consider replacing it soon.
# Command Prompt
This option will open up a command prompt for you to work with. Although limited in what you can do, it does allow you to work with folders and files within your hard drive. For more information on this, check out this awesome article.
If you are just a simple computer user and don’t have too much technical geek friends to help with your computer woes, performing the above tasks with the recovery disk can go a long way. At least you owe it to yourself to try the Startup Repair and System Restore techniques first before giving it to a local computer repair shop.