New Computer Recovery Disk

Dear Computer Lady,

When I got my HP Laptop computer I was disappointed it did not come with Disks that I could use if my computer crashed.

When I went to back up my computer I had 16 CD’s that I used and was still Not backed up completely.

How can I back up my computer so I do not lose things that I have saved? Do you really need that many CD’s to back up your computer???

I have 202 GB of free space and 287 GB of total size.

Thank you! Mary Ann


Dear Mary Ann,

There are a couple of things you can do to get those disks in case your computer crashes. You need to do them now, though, don’t wait until you actually have a problem.

The first thing you can do is give HP a call. I know that last year, they would send you a recovery disk set free of charge if you called soon after purchasing a new HP computer. If not free, they will be able to sell you a set for $20.

The next thing to try is to create your own recovery disk. Usually the computer will only let you do this once, so make sure you have the right tools before you start the job. CDs are no longer large enough to hold your recovery files, and many recovery disk programs will not even let you use them. Instead, get yourself 5 or 6 DVD-R disks, and you will have more than enough to create your recovery disk set. Usually, it takes about three disks.

It takes almost 8 CD-R disks to hold as much as one DVD-R disk, so you can see why DVDs are a much better choice.

Once you have your disks, search your start menu for “Recovery” and you should find HPs program for creating recovery disks. Just follow the prompts to create your set. Again, if you have problems with this, be sure to give HP a call. They are very good at making sure you get recovery media.

One last thing that I want to mention is that creating these recovery disks will give you the ability to restore the computer to the way it was when you brought it home from the store. You will still need to backup your data files. My suggestion is that you use an online program like Mozy or Carbonite.



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    • ron007
    • July 16, 2011

    First thing I’d suggest is forget about CD or even DVD disks for backup. Even with DVD she would need 19 DVD disks. That is just too many (too expensive) for a good periodic backup strategy.

    Rather than spending $20 (on sale) for 100 DVD’s, spend $50-150 on a 1-3 TB external usb drive. You can get many more backups on a re-useable TB USB drive (1 TB disk approx 212 DVDs) that on DVDs. Plus it is easier because you don’t have to feed 20 disks during the backup process.

    Second: Most current computers have DVD drives, many have DVD burners. If you are set on using DVDs, go with DVD RW (rewriteable) instead of DVD R (write once only). At least that way you will be able to re-use the DVD RW’s many times. Slightly more expensive to buy the disks, but much cheaper in long run than DVD write once.

    Third: splurge and buy a Blu Ray Writer drive (BD-RE, re-writable). They go for $200 and under. A double layer Bluray disk holds about 50GB, more than 10.6 DVD disks, so she would only need 2 disks to do backup. I saw a 15 pack of Disks for $30, very roughly same cost per byte as DVD (100 DVD for $20 on sale)

    Fourth: No matter the media (but I still suggest External USB drive as best option) setup a regular backup process. The frequency depends on how much work you do on your computer. If you create many new files, or high value (to you) files, backup more frequently. A simple strategy would be to do a Full Image Copy backup once a month, say on weekend before MS Patch Tuesday, followed by 3 weekly Incremental backups between the Full image copies.

    Fifth: I have gone with, and suggest to everyone, to use at least a 2 partition strategy for your HD. Split your current drive, “Partition” it, into a C: drive for Windows and your applications and a D: drive for all of your personal data files. This approach has several advantages. Apps and OS change less frequently, so you don’t have to back them up as often. Doing incremental backup on Apps an OS partition will be fast (few changes). Separating Data from apps and OS allows you to “re-install” (recovery from your backup) Windows and applications without affecting (losing)your data files. Partitioning has become easier, and reliable with built in tools in Vista and Win7 (for XP I’d still use 3rd party tools).

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