To answer the question, it is important to first understand the difference between a recovery disk and installation disk.
• The recovery disk, typically included with your system, contains information to recover your system. However, the disk relies on information still stored on your hard drive to do so.
• The installation disk contains all the information necessary to install system software, such as Windows, or application software, such as Quickbooks, on your hard drive. It doesn't require additional information from the hard drive to work.
Can you see the problem? A recovery disk works great to restore your system if you delete an application or corrupt the system. For example, if you accidentally deleted Windows, the recovery disk could find a copy of Windows in a hidden partition on your drive and use that to re-install your system from scratch. However, if your hard drive crashes, your recovery disk has no information to draw from. Now, you need either an installation disk, or image type of back up that backs up everything on your hard drive.
Here's the complicated part: installation disks aren't always included with your computer. If you don't have an installation disk, insist on one from your computer vendor. It is worth the extra cost. When you receive the disk, make sure to save it, and its product keys, in a safe place.
Remember, every recovery disk is created differently. There is no standard for what recovery disks should contain or what information it needs from the hard drive to restore your system. Just because the disk worked for one failure does not mean it will work for all.
For ultimate security, it is essential to back up your information with a reliable image back up. Taken regularly, image back ups protect your computer and can replace the need for an installation disk.
Get more free tech help and advice from Leo Notenboom by visiting http://ask-leo.com With over 30 years of industry experience, including an 18 year career as a software engineer with Microsoft, Leo gives real answers to real questions from ordinary computer users at Ask Leo Subscribe to Leo's weekly newsletter now and receive a free ebook: "Internet Safety – Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet", a collection of steps, tools and concepts you need to know to keep your computer and your information safe.