Jesus 'n Jim

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Format computer to Factory State

 

the intent

the intent behind this is to make the system usable for the person who gets the machine or to recover from a serious problem, such as malware.

if you have a virus or spyware/malware, a format is pretty much required these days. you might need to buy Recovery Discs online can be purchased for $20-$50/set online or by calling the mfr if you can get them that way. mfr may limit the number of times you can buy recovery discs, so avoid losing them.

try this first

something you can try is installing clamwin(Windows), or clamxav(Mac) or running clamav (already installed on most Unix/Linux/BSD systems)

these programs, although they are ruthlessly removed by other antivirus programs as offensive (because you should not have 2 antivirus programs working at the same time, they conflict, and they know that). this has a fairly decent detection rate from what I have seen, it detects things the big ones do not. you might try this before trashing your OS if your OS is at least limping.

UNIX instructions:
------------------
clamav instructions for mounting an NTFS disk at /dev/sdb1 and scanning it:
start an xterm.
mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sdb1 /mnt/c
sudo mkdir /mnt/c/quarantine
sudo clamscan --recursive=yes -r --infected --move=/mnt/c/quarantine --algorithmic-detection /mnt/c
...wait until scan finished. quarantine directory is still there, you can remove it if you wish.
sudo rm -f /mnt/c/quarantine
sudo rmdir /mnt/c/quarantine
umount /mnt/c

clamav instructions for scanning root at /:
start an xterm.
sudo mkdir /quarantine
sudo clamscan --recursive=yes -r --infected --move=/quarantine --algorithmic-detection /

what about my software?

most computers I see on craigslist don't come with the system restore cd's or the drivers cd's or the software. Legally, the OEM software belongs with the machine, not to you. If it's not a boxed copy of the software, it's probably OEM (and usually says so on the paperwork). people don't realize that the license for OEM software is only legal if it STAYS WITH THE MACHINE IT WAS FIRST INSTALLED ON.

this means it is not legal to sell your OEM software apart from the machine. it goes with the machine.

so please do the next person a favor, keep it legal, and move the OEM software right along with the machine you sell. that means OEM applications too:

  • microsoft money OEM
  • microsoft works OEM
  • OEM cd burning applications such as NERO OEM
  • just look for the word OEM on the disc anywhere, also check the product key/serial number to see if OEM is in it.
  • upgrades from OEM are part of the OEM product to my best understading of the EULA.

software that is retail, this is yours. you can keep retail/boxed software and software that you have purchased over the internet.

Unfortunately, if you upgraded from some OEM software, such as upgrading from ms works to ms office, my best understanding of the EULA/license terms is that the upgrade now is also is considered part of the system and part of the OEM software, and should go with the machine if you sell it.

you may want to check the EULA to see what it says regarding transfer to a different CPU. Some software EULAs (licensing agreements) don't allow that.

regarding wiping the disk

I recommend wiping when you have a virus or trojan or other malware, these days, it's the only way to get back to normalcy. wipe and reinstall windows.

 

Reasons not to wipe:

  • older hard disks may have an [EISA] Config partition (my Dell does). that's your diagnostics partition! On my Dell it shows up as 4GB FAT (Eisa Config). that's for System Diags probably on old Dells.
  • your hard disk usually has a System Restore partition on it. On my Dell it shows up as 32GB FAT32 (Unknown). HP and Dell computers, at least, use System Restore partitions, and more and more companies are doing this instead of giving you the System Restore media as a "cost saving" measure. :-( Take it from me, order the media if you didn;t burn yourself a set with the provided software when the machine was good.
  • some linux partitioners are buggy enough that they only work if windows is there.

Reasons to wipe:

  • any virus, malware, trojan
  • windows reinstall with win7 and up will simply do a repair (actually save the old one in windows.old and make the new one windows), will not format no matter what you try, it's all automatic now, choices have been taken away:-(
  • You are COMPLETELY and permanently replacing windows with linux or some other OS - some partitioners are buggy and only work if it's empty. still, some are buggy enough that they only work if there's windows installed.
  • you are installing a full version of windows over the top of another version of windows - this does not work! the disk must be empty! unless you are doing the recovery cd thing, then you don't need to.
  • installing a weird OS
  • windows or other OS installation isn't taking for some reason - could be a hardware problem, or could be some remnant of older OS on the hard disk.

the XP era System Restore Partitions typically format the section of disk that should be formatted.

getting my data off before the format

if you ended up with a virus, you COULD risk trying to get your data off using a drive dock, but if the files you are trying to backup have been infected, it could infect your new machine too. you can try to take your computer in to have it cleaned up by a computer shop, and tell them to save your data and that it is infected and to format it fresh. provide them with your laptop cd/dvd media that came with it, or with recovery discs.

recovery discs or a real windows disc are the safer method of making the machine normal again.

or, find a friend with a desktop or laptop, buy a 2.5" USB hard drive dock or the USB hard drive interface that handles 2.5" IDE+SATA, take your laptop drive out (you will need very small screwdrivers for this) mount the drive on the USB interface.

make sure it is polarized right, and don't force! but let them know that the machine is infected, and you are just backing up files, and not to execute anything or their machine could be infected too. maybe this isn't somehting you should do to your friend unless he/she repairs computers for a living and has very high skills in this area...

method #1: reinstall windows on another partition

before you boot gparted, [gparted may caused a need for a repair disc/windows repair or filesystem repair which may be automatic, get partition commander - makers of gparted have not figured out how to work with vista/7/8/8.1 partitions quite yet] make sure you have:

  1. successfully repaired your filesystem, let it do all its rebooting.
  2. successfully shut down.
  3. booted into CMOS SETUP though delete key, F1, F2, F12, F10, or whatever key your computer happens to be (before windows comes up - gotta be fast), and set it to boot cdrom as the first priority device, with usb next and hard drive next. you can also do usb first and cdrom next, provided you don't have a bootable USB device inserted. save and exit.
  4. press a key to boot from cd while you can if it asks.

then once you have pressed enter a bunch of times to get into gparted partition commander gui app:

  1. if you are using adobe products and you can access them, get online and deactivate them and uninstall if you can. this requires networking to work.
  2. right click on the big partition and pick resize (these steps 2-12 are optional, they are only if you want to revive your old data)
  3. drag the right side slider to the left so you still have some free white space for new files or new OS updates/patches (about 80-100GB at least), and click ok.
  4. right click on the unpartitioned space (well, figure out a way to create a partition) and create an extended partition the entiresizeof the unpartitioned space. click ok.
  5. right click in the extended partition space and create a logical NTFS partition. If you have a 32-bit windows,create several 7GB NTFS partitions and right click on those and format them as NTFS. label them with numbers. windows willassign these drive letters, do don't go wild. there are only 22 drive letters you can use, and 4-6 of them are probably taken by your card reader and external drive(s).
  6. right click on the remaining unpartitioned extended partition space and create a logical NTFS partition. click ok.
  7. format the partion as NTFS. click ok.
  8. IF your original windows partition is totally scrambled, you MIGHT choose to format it as NTFS. or you can do so if you reinstall windows from scratch, or you can refresh the files when you repair windows and try to get back some semblance of order. I would not recommend this action though, if there's ANY CHANCE your data is still there in good shape: windows might not run well, but your data can be just fine. don't do this particular step to your recovery or diagnostics partition which is sometimes the second partition which also may be hidden and uis usually small (about 4-40GB).
  9. click apply in gparted partition commander - all the actions will be done now. go unclutter something - go out for lunch/dinner/ice cream. it's going to be probably about 2-4 hours.
  10. close gparted partition commander when it says it has completed everything (upper right x on window).
  11. double-click the red power button icon on the desktop eventually, the shutdown choice will appear.
  12. it will tell you to take out the cd when it's appropriate.
  13. at this point, you can actually put in the windows cd instead of the gparted partition commander cd, and hit [enter] to shut down.
  14. power up and press a key to boot from the windows CD/DVD or recovery CD/DVD and install windows on that newly partitioned logical space on the right side you picked, or you can replace the data on the old large NTFS partition (not the teeny one, that's your system recovery partition! a recovery disc will reinstall the recovery partition anyway).
  15. reinstall all motherboard/system drivers in the category order the manufacturer gives them (if order is not followed, system can be slower) using the motherboard drivers cdrom that came with your motherboard or drivers cdrom that came with your system. otherwise, you are likely going to have to download the drivers from a different machine and burn a cd. it gets messy, because manufacturers include many products for a given canned system so for say, LAN alone, you might have 3 or 4 different kinds of drivers. only one of these will work. usually system will complain that the driver you are installing doesn't match your hardware.
  16. install Printer Drivers, scanner drivers, and any other peripherals you may have - don't forget those. I hope you have those discs available and unscratched.
  17. computer vendors don't include a drivers cd anymore unless it's a custom build or it's from a mom & pop computer shop.
  18. perform any available BIOS and firmware upgrades to your devices (burners, printers, motherboard, router) if you know how - this includes CPU microcode updates. this step is optional. clear the CMOS, reset the router, etc. afterwards and reconfigure if you performed firmware upgrades.
  19. reinstall all programs (office packages, accounting packages, cd burning packages, editors, adobe products, everything you used before), drivers, and required NON-MALWARE plugins, can take 3 days to a month depending on how many programs you have. if you are using adobe products, you need to contact support and tell them you were unable to deactivate your adobe product(s) and you need them to reduce the installed machine count and tell when how many machines you have it installed on.
  20. setup your homegroup (available through help or control panel, view by small icons, networking) if you are on win7 and above (vista?). on XP and below, you need to do network setup (available through help).
  21. set automatic updates to "download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them." will will prevent automatic shutdowns in the middle of your work after an update has finished installing.
  22. if you have a backup of your bookmarks and favorites, restore this.
  23. install IE6 if you have 95?/98/me/2k (sorry, cd and download is no longer available). install latest IE for your platform or use latest firefox 12.0 for win2k. use 3.6.23 for win9x/me and for anything else, use the latest version. if using ff, choose to import bookmarks, including from other browsers.
  24. install service packs, in order from whatever came with your OS to the latest. you will probably have to burn some cd's/dvds. note that if it is XP, you must install IE8 before SP3, or IE *could* be broken! SP4 is latest for win2k.
  25. install microsoft works OEM if you have that, then microsoft office upgrade. or microsoft office full (if you want to sell that also) or OEM, whichever you have. If you don't have an office package, you can get one for free from OpenOffice.org , or IBM Lotus Symphony, which is more compatible with MS Office than OpenOffice.org, or LibreOffice.
  26. install latest applications:
  27. if you are recovering from a virus, be warned that executing/double-clicking any of the old executables, shortcuts, documents from the old windows installation could probably infect your new installation. so it's probably a good idea to delete all the .bat, .scr, .pif, .lnk's, .exe's, .dll's, and .ocx's from the old windows installation.

method #2: move the data (revive broken windows and get data back maybe)

the method in this section allows you to revive a broken windows and get your data back possibly, if you have extra disk space enough for a copy of all your data. it may be bigger than you think: pictures, videos, and mp3's can get huge and can take up 40+GB-300GB or more depending on how active you are.

before you boot gparted partition commander, make sure you have:

  1. successfully repaired your filesystem, let it do all its rebooting.
  2. successfully shut down.
  3. booted into CMOS SETUP though delete key, F1, F2, F12, F10, or whatever key your computer happens to be (before windows comes up - gotta be fast), and set it to boot cdrom as the first priority device, with usb next and hard drive next. you can also do usb first and cdrom next, provided you don't have a bootable USB device inserted. save and exit.
  4. press a key to boot from cd while you can if it asks.

then once you have pressed enter a bunch of times to get into gparted partition commander gui app:

  1. right click on the big partition and pick resize
  2. drag the right side slider to the left so you still have some free white space for new files or new OS updates/patches (about 80-100GB at least), and click ok.
  3. right click on the unpartitioned space (well, figure out a way to create a partition) and create an extended partition the entiresizeof the unpartitioned space. click ok.
  4. right click in the extended partition space and create a logical NTFS partition. If you have a 32-bit windows,create several 7GB NTFS partitions and right click on those and format them as NTFS. label them with numbers. windows willassign these drive letters, do don't go wild. there are only 22 drive letters you can use, and 4-6 of them are probably taken by your card reader and external drive(s).
  5. right click on the remaining unpartitioned extended partition space and create a logical NTFS partition. click ok.
  6. format the partion as NTFS. click ok.
  7. move your data onto it
  8. then you can reinstall windows (see format steps) and your programs on the old partition, or repair the os if need be (less chance of losing data, less chance of needing toreoinstal programs)
  9. apply windows updates via http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com using ONLY IE and some reboots in a hurry.
  10. exporting/copying your email client profile, firefox profiles, IE favorites directory, documents, music, pictures, videos, and any downloads you have, anything you have in c:\users\ or c:\documents and settings\ and any license key text files you have made (if you haven't thought of doing it, start now, and print them out, I suggest the OCR A Std font for Notepad). I would also export any special registry entries, like that of Adobe (which contains your settings).
  11. reinstall all programs, drivers, and required NON-MALWARE plugins, can take 3 days to a month depending on how many programs you have.

here's what folders varies with each OS:

  • 98/me: c:\
  • NT: c:\winnt\profiles\
  • 2000: c:\documents and settings\ or c:\winnt\profiles\
  • xp: c:\documents and settings\
  • vista/7/8: c:\users\ or c:\users\public\
  • see this article

critical folders to copy

  • ...you\application data\thunderbird\
  • ...you\application data\spicebird\
  • ...you\application data\firefox\
  • ...you\application data\cdrtfe\
  • ...you\application data\local settings\thunderbird\
  • ...you\application data\local settings\spicebird\
  • ...you\application data\local settings\firefox\
  • ...you\application data\local settings\cdrtfe\
  • ...you\favorites\
  • ...you\desktop\
  • ...you\application data\ (any apps you want to keep your settings)
  • ...you\application data\local settings\ (any apps you want to keep your settings)
  • ...you\downloads\
  • ...you\documents\
  • ...you\public\documents\
  • ...you\music\
  • ...you\public\music\
  • ...you\video\
  • ...you\public\video\
  • ...you\pictures\
  • ...you\public\pictures\
  • don't forget your other users. you may have to strongarm their files and take ownership in order to back them up. xp, vista/7.
  • if you are recovering from a virus, be warned that executing any of the old executables from the old windows installation could probably infect your new installation. so it's probably a good idea to delete all the .bat, .scr, .pif, .lnk's, .exe's, .dll's, and .ocx's from the old windows installation.

critical files to copy

  • license keys (hopefully saved in Notepad)
  • fonts?
  • photoshop plugins
  • firefox plugins and profiles (not if your system is infected)
  • thunderbird plugins and profiles (not if your system is infected)
  • c:\xampp directory
  • any www root directories you have

critical registry entries to export

  • HKLM\Softwware\Adobe
  • HKCU\Softwware\Adobe
  • HKCU\Softwware\ any apps you want to keep their settings, except Microsoft unless it's Office
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office (warning, this may not work!)
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform (warning, this may not work!)
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office

recovering from an infection/virus/worm/malware/trojan

if you are recovering from a virus, be warned that executing any of the old executables from the old windows installation could very probably infect your new installation. so it's probably a good idea to delete all the .bat, .scr, .pif, .lnk's, .exe's, .dll's, and .ocx's from the old windows installation. in fact, some things you would not expect would be bad too like .lnk's and such. anything is suspect.

I re-iterate this at the end of the methods. continue with reading the rest of this page.

a straight wipe or you can wipe from a linux livecd like gparted or systemrescuecd and windows reinstall (steps used for preparing for selling) using recovery discs you burned when the machine was good (or bought the discs) and dropping the possibly-infected data is best.

method #3: wipe+reinstall system from recovery discs

pre-WARNING

if you follow the steps in the next section, you WILL lose your data unless you do the backup in a method that is retrievable.

steps to bring system to factory state for selling (or otherwise usable)

what you will need:

  • system recovery discs which you should have created while the system was good using the provided software. if not, purchase some for about $20-50/set.
  • driver discs for peripherals and especially for system/motherboard/laptop (you may need to make one, in case LAN doesn't work without a driver)
  • ps2 keyboard or usb keyboard with purple ps2-usb adapter, in case USB/chipset drivers are required to make USB work (which makes usb keyboard and mouse unresponsive). IF this is a system with a ps2 port. otherwise USB.
  • ps2 mouse or usb mouse with green usb-ps2 adapter, in case USB/chipset drivers are required to make USB work (which makes usb keyboard and mouse unresponsive). IF this is a system with a ps2 port. otherwise USB.
  • speakers, to hear POST beep - some systems may route the old pc "beep" speaker/piezo speaker audio into the speaker system
  • burned discs of service packs which apply to your system (keep extra copies around in case any get scratched). they are applied sequentially. for instance, if the latest service pack is SP4, and your system has SP2, you apply SP3, then SP4. SP is an acronym/short for for service pack.
  • If you are unable to get recovery discs, buy a new boxed retail version of windows Pro. it may work on your machine, make sure it meets system requirements.

keep the discs in cd sleeves to protect them when they are not being used, and avoid setting them data-side down on the table - this scratches them.

newegg tv video on youtube on how to install windows 7 using format on ssd+hard disk

WARNING:if you follow these steps, you WILL lose your data unless you do the backup in a method that is retrievable.

Windows 7: did you make a System Repair Disc beforehand? may save you some trouble.

you find your System Restore keypress one of 3 ways:

  • the key to (repeatedly) press during a split displayed for an instant during boot before windows comesx up (maybe on a splash screen) so you have to really be proactive to get to it, OR it is available . technical support from your manufacturer will have the details on exactly how to get to system recovery mode or OS Repair mode or whatever they call it.
  • by hitting F8 repeatedly during the boot process like there's no tomorrow before windows comes up. it will be a menu item.
  • by doing a keypress repeatedly during boot by discovery - trying function keys during the boot process. one of them will get you into CMOS SETUP where you configure things, that's NOT it, hit Esc. Try F1-F12, Shift-F1 through Shift-F12.
  • by looking up in an online service manual at your manufacturer's web site to find out what the key/process is. If they have one, it is usually free.
  • by contacting technical support to find out what the key is (hopefully your product is under warranty if that's the way your manufacturer works, or you pay something like $49/incident).
  • if filesystem is stil in good condition, burn a set of recovery discs (DVDs) with the provided software.

IF the manufacturer forgot to put that system restore partition on the hard drive, you could possibly send it back to have them put it back on (since they messed up and you paid for the OS). and I highly suggest you purchase a set of OS Recovery Media for occasions such as this. This does not usually happen (there would probably be no OS!)

with an OS installation system manufacturers will put in a system restore partition alongside the windows partition.

on windows somewhere there is usually some software for making recovery discs (which I hope you did).

you would need to purchase recovery media for your laptop, since the system recovery partition with the OS on it is on the hard drive most likely (common vendor practice), not the new SSD. so you need to buy the media to reinstall the OS+recovery partition. you will need information off of your laptop/computer (model number, make, serial number, build id, any numbers, OS type on the Microsoft COA sticker) in order to order the media. see this page for manufacturer information on getting the part from the parts department or from tech support known as "recovery media".

If you don't have System Restore/System Recovery Media and you can't burn any with the provided software, now is a good time to purchase them, they can come in handy in case of an emergency. If you don't have a PC from a major manufacturer, then buy a "full retail" copy of Windows ($300), or switch to linux (free, I usually choose OpenSuse 11.2, not 11.3 or Ubuntu 10.10).

  1. burn recovery discs with the software that came with the machine or purchase recovery discs.
  2. save your work first and close your apps.
  3. burn a set of recovery discs (DVDs) while machine is still good. provide them to the new owner - they will enjoy the favor. you will need them, and it will save you $20-$50 rather than buying them.
  4. if you are on a desktop, you will need a PS2 keyboard and mouse, because sometimes the USB is not available without the drivers loaded. I learned this early on when software disconnected my usb keyboard or mouse. I learned fast not to trust those except on laptops. ps2 mice and keyboard can only be installed while the power is OFF, otherwise, it can cause damage to the port or the device.
  5. first off, you have to get into CMOS Setup from the moot menu (F1? F2? F10? Delete? manufacturer dependent) and change the boot order so that the cdrom is before the hard drive.
  6. in the boot options, turn off LAN BOOT ROM or PXE BOOT.
  7. if you can, fix the filesystem. make a shortcut on the desktop to c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe and check the checkbox to run as admin if you have that option. double click after clicking OK. chkdsk /f [Enter]. when it asks you a question, answer Y [Enter]. then shutdown -s -f [Enter]. it should shut down. if it doesn't after 20 minutes, power the computer off (unless it is doing updates).
  8. turn on the computer. on boot past the windows logo screen, you should see the chkdsk session running in blue. this will take an hour.
  9. backup old data if not infected: burn to DVD/cd or copy to usb flash drive or usb external drive.
  10. click on the safely disconnect hardware green icon in the system tray (lower right hand corner) and disconnect your usb external drive which you just backed up your data to, then disconnecct the cable after it is safe.
  11. wipe the drive (1-pass zeros is fine).
  12. if the laptop uses system restore disc(s), insert the system restore disc and boot. If you have a system restore partition instead, you will have a special boot menu at startup prompting you to press a certain function key, so do so. system restore MAY be an earlier boot option than F8 which is what comes up when windows boots, or you may have to hit F8 repeatedly during boot to see if anything interesting comes up. I am talking about what comes up when the BIOS/Dell screen comes up. you may have to experiment with keys. could be F12, F10, see Recovery Keys, but you have to watch and catch it fast.
  13. install, choosing to install, when it comes time to choose to Format or Repair, choose full format the partition (the one that takes a few hours), and choose to install windows over the old NTFS partition you had. don't remove the media until it tells you to.
  14. set automatic updates to "download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them." will will prevent automatic shutdowns in the middle of your work after an update has finished installing.
  15. install drivers for the motherboard/laptop/desktop first. drivers are available from the mfr's web site under "drivers and downloads" or under "support" under your [motherboard/laptop/system] model's page, or your system may have come with a drivers disc. you should make one if you haven't already, for the reason that the LAN may not work until the driver is installed.
  16. install the drivers for your other products IF you only are using the system or you are selling the collection of peripherals with the system.
  17. install IE6 if you have 95?/98/me/2k (sorry, cd and download is no longer available). install latest IE for your platform or use latest firefox 12.0 for win2k. use 3.6.23 for win9x/me and for anything else, use the latest version.
  18. install service packs, in order from whatever came with your OS to the latest. you will probably have to burn some cd's/dvds. note that if it is XP, you must install IE8 before SP3, or IE *could* be broken! SP4 is latest for win2k.
  19. install microsoft works OEM if you have that, then microsoft office upgrade. or microsoft office full (if you want to sell that also) or OEM, whichever you have. If you don't have an office package, you can get one for free from OpenOffice.org , or IBM Lotus Symphony, which is more compatible with MS Office than OpenOffice.org, or LibreOffice.
  20. install latest applications:
  21. install the motherboard/system drivers on the driver cd/dvd(s) in the order by category the mfr gives them (use the one that fits your system - program will complain if it's the wrong uone usually).
  22. install Printer Drivers, scanner drivers, and any other peripherals you may have - don't forget those. I hope you have those discs available and unscratched.
    • XP and below: use Internet Explorer to visit windowsupdate.microsoft.com
    • Vista and above: [windows-logo-flag-key]-E control panel, windows updates.
    Install updates and reboot when asked. repeat this step until there are no more updates.
  23. Tools, Windows Update from IE since the address changes between OS's.
  24. conteol panel, windows updates: set automatic updates to "download updates for me,but let me choose when to install them." will will prevent automatic shutdowns in the middle of your work after an update has finished installing.

System Recovery Keys

no recovery disc creation software

this technique works for creating recovery media for systems which have no software for making recovery media,or you have lost the recovery media and there is or is not a recovery partition. it is only useful if the system is in good shape.

Alternative is to buy a new version of windows (not oem or system builder edition - that's not legal) - this has a 80% chance of working.

HP/Compaq

repeatedly press F10 during boot.

making/buying recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years), doing system recovery from system recovery partition

Gateway

see gatweway article. involves the R key during boot.

making recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)

emachines

F11, F12, or alt-F10 repeatedly during boot. or see this article.

Dell

F8 repeatedly during boot. on some older machines like the dimension 4600 I think it is F10 (but the tech wasn't sure until I paid money).

creating recovery discs via Dell Data Safe on consumer dells (before hard drive dies in 5 years)

Acer

alt-F10 or alt-F11 repeatedly during boot. 1, 2

create recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years), recovering system

Toshiba

see yahoo answers post

making recovery discs on machines 2006 and later (before hard drive dies in 5 years) - older models you must order recovery discs

Sony Vaio

all VAIO computers are shipped with recovery partition, present in a hidden partition of the hard drive.
You may also use the recovery partition to create the recovery discs.
You may use the recovery partition to reinstall the preinstalled operating system, applications and the original drivers.
Please press the F10 key for 5 to 10 seconds when the VAIO logo appears to access the recovery partition.
Please press the Enter key when you view the edit boot options window to access the recovery menu.
Please use the VAIO care rescue feature to backup important data to any removable media (like USB, DVDs) before performing the system recovery.
Please use the 'Restore C drive' option to perform the system recovery.
This option is used to recover the entire C: drive partition to its original factory software configuration.
All the data on the C: drive will be erased while the data on other partitions is not affected.

making system recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)

Apple

see

making recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)

Lenovo

see techiecorner.com for S10. ideapad

making recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)

ASUS

see Eee

order recovery discs/software for eee pc

order recovery discs/software for eeebox pc

order recovery discs/software for all-in-one pc and eeetop pc

order recovery discs/software for essentio desktop

order recovery discs/software for notebook

order recovery discs/software motherboard

order recovery discs/software multimedia and graphics

order recovery discs/software for server motherboard

order recovery discs/software for server barebones

making recovery discs for Eee, desktop and laptop (before hard drive dies in 5 years)

MSI

F3 [Enter] see youtube video (MSI official video)

to order recovery discs, if you are in the US, call MSI Tech Support team at 626.913.0828 Option 3 during regular business hours

making recovery discs (before hard drive dies in 5 years)

disk wiping software
I tried DBAN, it is buggy and doesn't work. a simple 1-pass zero-wipe is all you need.
White Canyon Software's WipeDrive Home $29.95
Ultimate Boot CD (donation-supported), look under hard disk
Hiren's Boot CD and info (donation-supported), look under hard disk
tools for the job
this is required for laptops only.
windows 7 full retail, available from newegg.com $180-300
there is an advantage to the retail full version - you can transfer to new hardware if you get an upgraded motherboard, for instance, and since you have the OS disc, you can do the all-important repair and partition resize, unlike some people with system restore partitions today!
gnome partition editor, available from sf.net/projects/gparted free, open source
great for resizing and making newpartitions: making a fresh new windows on the same disk while keeping your old data.
IF you need to repair a filesystem, or get your data off of a drive, use this (for drives <= 3TB). for 3.5" drives > 3TB, get the ones below.
Thermaltake ST0018Z Silver River II 2.5" usb2.0 enclosure, available at newegg.com $24.99
6/11/2012. up to 2TB. SATA I/II/II/SSD, ALL capacities. Windows 7/Vista/XP/2003/2000, Mac 10.3 and later. Aluminum. I recommend this for 2.5" only, especially since it handles all disk capacies - nice! won't get old fora long time...
Thermaltake MAX 5, available at newegg.com $47.99
6/11/2012. USB 2.0, SATA I/II/III, Dual 80mm Blue LED Fans, ALL disk capacities. highly recommended!
gparted partition commander bootable livecd partition resizer/mover/creator/deleter
clonezilla bootable livecd disk copier
useful articles
fixing instability problems and lockups: how to clean the cpu cooler
repair your filesystem beforedoing anything,if possible, even if doing it with Icy Dock MB981U3-1SA hard drive dock on another computer.
boxed, retail windows 7 $180-$320 if you need it
before you buy any of these, make sure your system has drivers available for this platform or whether the drivers are already built into windows. if there are no drivers available, you might be stuck. if you can buy recovery discs, this would be cheaper at $20-50, but you may not be able to buy them too many times.
this supports 32-bit XP mode in Microsoft Virtual PC software, even in 64-bit windows, which can run win9x or ms-dos applications too
this supports 32-bit XP mode in Microsoft Virtual PC software, even in 64-bit windows, which can run win9x or ms-dos applications too
this DOES NOT support 32-bit XP mode - but it's less expensive
you will want to buy this through the microsoft store. right now it seems lind of undetermined, but the windows 8.1 upgrade might just be free for those ONLY who have bought it from the microsoft store. that is what I read quoted from a microsoft higherup. make SURE you get the DVD version, because you never know when you might just need a real disc and a product key card.