I read an interesting article in Nov 2007 PC World magazine that talked about the hassles of getting recovery discs made. In the article a person asked a store sales person could he do it himself and was told no. Then the sales person said he could have the store service do it or have the manufacturer of the PC do it. Of course this was all wrong but you get the point. In the war to protect their assets, certain software vendors are refusing to give out installation discs along with PC's that have a preinstalled operating system. Instead they devised a not so easy to use recovery procedure with special software to do the job. Some vendors put the operating system installation files in a partition on the same drive you install all your software on. If all works well, you can with some luck restore your computer. But if the hard drive is damaged or corrupted beyond booting, you are screwed.
A while back I tried to go through the recovery disk procedure. I followed all the instructions and produced a stack of 14 CD's. Well, my day of anguish came and I had to recover my system. Needless to say the CD's were useless, recorded on but blank. I don't know what happened but recovery did not happen. I tried to reinstall from the partition of installation files stored on the same hard drive. I could not get to them. Curiously my vendor brand PC did not have that little chrome sticker on it that says I could have my OS reinstalled for free because I was the certified owner. So I whipped out my original software vendor's installation CD's of another OS and installed it my self. This recovery stuff and backup software involves special formats and or file compression, why? After you install or you want to backup, what files are copied or is all of it backed up? Here's my solution but you have to invest a little cash. Buy a couple of 4 or 8GB jump drives to use for system software backups and don't waste endless CD's. Snap shot your backup to the jump drive. If you need to make a new snapshot down the road you don't have to waste CD's. Then copy that partition of installation files from off that hard drive you have your OS installed on to another jump drive. That way you will still have it if the drive fails. Then delete the words "backup CD's" from your vocabulary. I also recommend not putting your OS on the same drive as your data if you can help it. Vendors are trying to help but help gets compromised in the need for sales.