The curse of system disks

Tips & Hints

Why you should always ask for an operating system disk with your new PC

One of the most irritating habits of computer manufacturers is not supplying disks for the software supplied with their computers. Some do this because they can wrangle a cheaper deal out of the software company, others do it just to save a few cents on the disks. Either way it’s a bad habit that customers shouldn’t tolerate.

There’s plenty of reasons why you’ll need the installation disks during the life of a computer system, if you don’t have them it can be a big problem.  Missing disks make it very difficult for a tech to repair an upset system. It may also mean you don’t get all the features other computer users take for granted along with the repair tools built into the Windows XP installation disk.

Some brands even go further by not providing any disks at all. These brands hide the installation files on the hard drive. This is all well and good until your hard drive dies and you find that, along with a new drive, you have to shell out several hundred dollars for a new set of disks.

To add insult to injury, some brands “tattoo” their drives. This is a basic form of copy protection, which prevents the user from running a recovery disk on another PC. Often this means you have to spend another $50 or $60 being told how to tattoo the drive.

It’s easy to avoid these problems, make sure you get a computer with the disks in the first place. When buying a computer; ask the dealer what happens if you have to reinstall Windows XP, what options does the manufacturer provide? There are four choices, in order of good to bad.

1. You use the Windows XP disk supplied with the system (good.)

2. You use the Recovery disks supplied with the system (not so good.)

3. You use the Recovery disks you created from the program on the system (unacceptable, the cheap so and so's won't even supply the disks.)

4. There's a "Recovery partition" on the hard drive (totally useless if your hard drive dies.)

Option two is similar to those horrible "temporary" spare tyres some new cars come with, they are however useable. Option three is like including a cheap puncture repair kit and expecting you to fix the puncture. Four is akin to not supplying a spare tyre, or any tools at all.

Needless to say, we’re very reluctant to recommend any brand that won't give you what you've paid for. If the manufacturer won’t provide you with a proper set of system disks for your computer, choose another brand. It will save you money and discourage this unfair practice.
PC Rescue Pty Ltd, Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 36 082 635 765
ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2008