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2012-01-13

A+: Installing Windows from a Recovery DVD/CD

Most vendors no longer provide a full installation DVD/CD of Windows for computers with preinstalled Windows installations. Instead, a recovery DVD/CD (or sometimes a hidden hard disk partition, or both) containing a special image of the Windows installation is provided. Systems that store the image on a hidden disk partition might offer the opportunity to create a restore image on a recordable DVD/CD.

    Note: A recovery disc is also known as a system restoration disc. These special versions of Windows aren’t standalone copies of Windows, meaning you can’t use them to install Windows on another PC (unless the PC is identical to the one for which the disc was made).

Typically, you have limited choices when you want to restore a damaged installation with a recovery disc or recovery files on a disk partition. Typical options include

    • Reformatting your hard disk and restoring it to just-shipped condition (causing the loss of all data and programs installed after the system was first used)

    • Reinstalling Windows only

    • Reinstalling support files or additional software

After you run the recovery disc to restore your system to its original factory condition, you will need to activate it again.


You might need the Windows Product key or your system’s serial number to run the recovery disc program. Keep this information handy. Note that most systems with preinstalled Windows have a sticker with the Windows license key (Product key) somewhere on the system case.

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