A Windows Rescue Disk is simply a CD containing system restore and recovery software for Windows Vista or Windows 7. A Windows Rescue Disk does not necessarily contain a copy of Windows, although Windows installation disks do include the restore and recovery functionality. Instead, a recovery disk contains the user interface needed to perform a Startup Repair or System Restore operation.
Why do I need a Windows Repair Disk?
Windows Rescue Disks are needed to repair computer problems severe enough to prevent the computer from starting on its own. A rescue disk allows the computer to boot up using the CD instead of its hard drive, which is handy when the hard drive is damaged or infected with a virus. The rescue disk also contains programs that can run an automated repair operation, roll back to a previously established restore point, recover a full PC backup or access a command line for advanced recovery operations.
In an age where spyware, adware and viruses pose ever-increasing risks, anyone who owns a computer should also have a Windows Rescue Disk. If the worst happens, it can rescue a valuable machine and valuable data stored on that machine.
Create a Windows Repair Disk for Windows Vista
First, you must determine whether you are using the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows Vista. If you are unsure, you are most likely using the 32-bit version, but check anyway!
To do this, open the Start Menu and click on Control Panel. Click on System and Maintenance, which should be in the top left corner, and then click on the green System heading. This will bring you to a page of basic information about your computer. The “System” box on that page should say either 32-bit or 64-bit.
Once you have determined which Vista version you are using, download the 32-bit or 64-bit rescue disk as appropriate.
Extract the downloaded archive with WinZip or another appropriate utility. The file you need for the rescue disk is a disk image, in ISO format. Burn this ISO image onto a CD-R using your favorite CD burning program.
Create a Windows Repair Disk for Windows 7
Creating a Windows 7 rescue disk is somewhat easier than creating one for Windows Vista, thanks to some of Windows 7’s built-in functionality. Begin by opening the Start Menu and clicking on Control Panel. In the Control Panel, click on System and Maintenance and then Backup and Restore.
In the left pane, you should see the words Create a System Repair Disc. Click there, and follow the on-screen instructions. If you are prompted to enter an administrator password or confirm an action, enter the password or click to provide confirmation. It is that simple!
However, you may be prompted to insert a Windows installation disk. This means your computer does not contain the necessary files to create a rescue disk. If you have a Windows 7 installation disk, insert it and continue with the on-screen instructions.
If you are prompted to insert an installation disk and you do not have one, you will need to create your rescue disk manually. First, determine whether you are using the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7 by returning to the Control Panel, clicking on System and Maintenance and clicking on System. The “System” box on that page should say either 32-bit or 64-bit.
Download the 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7 Rescue Disk image as appropriate.
Extract the downloaded archive with WinZip or another appropriate utility. The extracted files should include a disk image in ISO format. Burn this ISO image onto a CD-R using your favorite CD burning program.
Using your Windows Repair Disk – Windows Vista
Insert the rescue disk into a CD drive. Restart your computer. While the computer is booting, hit F2 to open the BIOS. Select the option to boot from CD using the arrow keys, then hit Enter. Select your language, click Next, select a recovery option and click Next.
Using your Windows Repair Disk – Windows 7
Insert the rescue disk into a CD drive. Restart your computer. If you are prompted to do so, press any key to boot from the CD. Select your language, click Next, select a recovery option and hit Next.