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Those wise enough to buy a customised PC from the likes of 1ComputerCare need read no further. Owners of mass produced computers may be interested in what follows - largely taken from http://neosmart.net
If you're like most PC users, you probably got Windows with a new PC or laptop. And if you're like 99% of the population, you get your new machine from one of the major manufacturers: Dell, Acer, HP, Toshiba, Lenovo; who all have one thing in common: they don't give you a real Windows installation disc with your purchase. Instead, they bundle what they call a "recovery disc" (that's if you're lucky - otherwise you'll have a recovery partition instead) with your machine and leave it at that.
The problem is, with Windows, the installation media serves more than one purpose. It's not just a way to get Windows installed, it's also the only way of recovering a broken installation. The Windows DVD has a complete "recovery centre" that provides you with the option of recovering your system via automated recovery (searches for problems and attempts to fix them automatically), rolling-back to a system restore point, recovering a full PC backup, or accessing a command-line recovery console for advanced recovery purposes.
Thankfully, Microsoft realized this problem, and made a recovery disc for this purpose (later withdrawn). It contains the contents of the Windows DVD's "recovery centre". It cannot be used to install or reinstall Windows, and just serves as a Windows Preinstallation Environment to recover your PC.
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