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Need Windows Recovery, Sucka?

You're screwed - and it's the Windows OEMs doing the screwing.

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'The days of finding Windows discs nestling at the bottom of a PC box are fast coming to an end', reports Stewart Mitchell of PC Pro.

'Current practice does away with backup discs, with vendors instead taking the cheaper option of installing recovery software on a hard disk partition, leaving the buyer with no physical copy of the operating system they paid for.'

But it saves the OEMs operating in an increasingly tight market with nonexistent profit margins. Windows users are ultimately screwed.

'PC firms rely on end users to burn a copy of the recovery partition on good quality media and store it somewhere safe for the day that disaster strikes', writes Mitchell.

But disaster strikes all the time on Windows. And it's not about hard drive failure - it's about all the worms and woes, all the trojans and troubles, that continually push Windows users to the final resort solution of 'wipe and reinstall'.

Of course the good hacker might decide to corrupt the recovery partition too but hey...

Aren't Windows users entitled to a hard copy of the operating system they purchased? Not much anymore. And this in the face of 'product activation' - Microsoft's totalitarian control of who is using what - which could be reversed to give users copy of the repeatedly reinstalled system they have already paid for.

Due Diligence

Windows boxen are cheap boxen. They're pantyhose - use a while, toss in the skip, buy a new one. Who cares it could run Ubuntu or another Linux for years more? 'Gah - where's my MS Word?'

Not many Windows users bother to make CD copies of their recovery partitions - partitions created in a rather negligent way too: OEMs put the recovery software (5-10 GB) on an otherwise wasted 100+ GB partition - half of the disk free space.

Recovery Discs?

'The manufacturers' line that partitions are adequate for consumers rather flies in the face of the alarmist advice on Acer Direct's website', writes Mitchell. Beneath product info for a £15 recovery disc is the following.

'Anti Datastrophe Systems'?

Acer also offer a £30 three year 'Data Recovery Service/Anti Datastrophe System' [sic] that tries to recover your disc if it fails. The 'key features' of this 'system'? From the Acer website.

  • Total Peace of mind for the next 3 years
  • Reclaim lost files, photos, videos & music
  • Can be used for any Hard Drive brands
  • Covers all Magnetic Hard Disc or SSD devices

There's no product shipped - you're enlisting future forensic help if needed. But once only.

'Register online at www.freecom.com/datarecovery, including details of the hard drive for which you register the service. The service covers one data recovery of one device for a period of 3 years, valid only after registration.'

One data recovery for one device. You have to ship your hard drive to the company. They use standard forensic equipment to scan your drive and send you a list of the files they can recover. Your 'total peace of mind' lasts for three years only if nothing bad happens - otherwise you have to renew that 'total peace of mind' for another £30.

Software You Have Already Paid For

PC World offer recovery discs too. For £35. Other outlets charge even more.

'I've had a lot of people that have had this problem', says Dave Smith of Help With Your PC. 'One customer recently found his hard drive had gone, but by the time he'd paid £50 for the recovery disc, paid for a new hard drive, and paid for the labour of installing the device, it made more sense to buy a new machine.'

Getting the disc itself can be grueling and time-consuming, despite assurances to the contrary. Mitchell says Acer promise to send within a fortnight - 'for software that you have already paid for'.

'Robbed of recovery discs, then robbed of hard disk space - what will PC manufacturers take next?'

See Also
PC Pro: The recovery disc rip-off

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