Support this page!
Buy my books!
156.laptops6.png cover
Even more books!









October 15, 2010

Roll Your Own Windows Recovery Disc

Filed under: Main — Tags: , — admin @ 12:01 am

Your PC should have come with a Windows disc. The best disc is the installation disc. The next best disc is a recovery disc. The least best disc is no disc at all. Even when you find yourself in that least-best situation, all hope isn’t lost. It’s possible in Windows 7 and in Windows Vista to create a Windows Recovery Disc. In fact, it’s stupidly simple.

A recovery disc does what you’d think it does: Slide the disc into your PC’s optical drive and boot from that disc. You’re then presented with a menu with oodles of rescue and recovery options: There’s an option to restore using a backup, to run a System Restore, to do a memory diagnostic, and the infamous and cryptic — but highly useful — command line Recovery Console.

All the tools offered by the Recovery Disc are useful, but not as much when you don’t have such a disc.

Fret not, gentle reader.

There is an under-documented command in WIndows 7 and Windows Vista that creates a recovery disc for you. It doesn’t use any magic. In fact, I merely uses the Recovery partition on your PC’s storage system. So before you get all exited about creating the disc, confirm that you’re system is able to create the disc.

Start by opening the Computer window. You should see at least two hard drive, or primary storage, volumes: Drive C, which is the operating system drive, Windows. Then there should also be a Drive D called Recovery.

The Recovery drive is installed at the factory. As the name implies, it’s used to recover a damaged system. (Well, providing that the entire hard drive didn’t just take a crap.)

You can boot your PC into the Recovery drive by using a special command when the computer is started. The command appears on the F8 menu, which is accessed by pressing (actually, repeatedly jabbing) the F8 key as the PC starts. The System Recovery command is what you’re looking for, also called Repair Your Computer or something similar.

The command may also appear on other startup menus. Or, in the case of Lenovo laptops, you can use the ThinkVantage button to access the Recovery volume.

Once you’ve confirmed that your PC has a Recovery volume, follow these steps:

  1. Insert a blank DVD+R into the PC’s optical drive. You can use a DVD-R or an RW disc, but I find that the +R format is the best.
  2. Dismiss any AutoPlay or other annoying dialog box that may come up.
  3. Press Win+R to summon a Run dialog box.
  4. Type recdisc. Yes, that’s the secret command: recdisc
  5. Choose the optical drive holding the blank DVD from the list.
  6. Click the Create Disc button.
  7. Jot down the name given after the disc is created.
  8. Remove the optical disc from the drive, and label it according to the instructions on the screen.
  9. Put the disc in a safe place

Hopefully you’ll never have to use the Recovery disc. Should disaster loom, however, and portents and signs reveal evil, you can rest easy knowing that you have a Recovery disc for your Windows PC.

For additional troubleshooting advice and tips, see my book Troubleshooting and Maintaining Your PC For Dummies All-In-One Desktop Reference For Dummies, the book with the longest title I’ve ever written.


  1. This disk has saved me many times using Windows 7. I got a retail boxed version and the disk itself is a recovery disk. But if you have a laptop with a pre loaded OS on there, then there will probably be no disk. My friend had Vista on her lap top and it stopped working, luckily most files were recovered, but there was no rescue disk or disk that came with it (after this her laptop was upgraded to Windows 7). I have made a rescue disk now just in case they are very useful things. I’m not sure if there is one for XP however, I have just used the disk with XP on it and it seems to do pretty much the same thing. I now use Acronis system image which is very good at bringing back entire operating systems.

    Comment by chiefnoobie — October 16, 2010 @ 3:38 am

  2. Good tip about Acronis, thanks!

    I think the move to create the RECOVERY volume started with Windows Vista. I’ve not seen any Windows XP systems with the RECOVERY volume.

    Comment by admin — October 16, 2010 @ 8:00 am

  3. When I got my Acer laptop, it didn’t come with recovery discs, but instead came with a program called ‘Acer eRecovery Management” All I had to do was put in a DVD and it burned a recovery disc for me. Although I would prefer to have it come with discs pre-made for me.

    Comment by gamerguy473 — October 17, 2010 @ 11:28 am

  4. I bet that eRecovery Management program simply runs the recdisc utility!

    Comment by admin — October 17, 2010 @ 11:40 am

  5. My Dad’s Laptop is a top of the range Sony Vaio. It has 2 hard drives I think one of them keeps an image on so if something happens you can recover it from there. He was also prompted to burn a couple of DVDS when he got it, which I believe was some kind of Sony image of Windows 7, which is a special feature with the Vaio, I should hope so it cost enough! at least he didn’t have to buy Windows 7 on disk as well.

    Comment by chiefnoobie — October 19, 2010 @ 5:13 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Copyright © 2019 Quantum Particle Bottling Co.
Powered by WordPress