Recovery Disc for Windows Vista or Windows 7

Category: Vista , Windows-7

When you buy a new PC these days, it is rare to receive a bundled CD-ROM or DVD disc containing the Recovery Disc software that you can use to try to repair or reinstall your operating system in the event of a catastrophe. Here's how to create a Recovery disk that you can use when your computer won't boot up normally from the hard drive...

Windows Recovery Disk

Create Your Own Windows Recovery Disk

Some computer vendors add the Recovery Disc software to your hard drive, and it appears as an option on the boot menu when you restart your machine. But what if your machine won't boot from the hard drive at all?

Then you need a removable, bootable Recovery Disc. If you did not receive one with your computer, you could contact the manufacturer of your system and buy a Recovery Disc. Yes, you should have received one with your new computer. But some vendors do sell them separately.

Getting one from the vendor is the easy but expensive method. But there is a way to create a recovery disk for free, if you have a computer that is able to burn a CD. (Sorry I didn't mean for that to rhyme...)

Microsoft has made available Recovery Disc image files for Vista and Windows 7, which are hosted online by NeoSmart Technologies. It boggles my mind that Microsoft doesn't host these files on their own server; instead leaving you to wonder if Neosmart is a trustworthy source for creating a CD that will be used to boot your computer.

But never mind that. You will find many Web pages offering "Vista recovery disk downloads" that actually link to the NeoSmart page above. Don't waste any time looking for something different, better or easier. Neosmart is apparently the one and only trusted place to get your recovery disk images.

Your goal is to download the recovery disk image file in ISO format, and burn it to a CD. Yes, if your hard drive is not working then you will have to download and burn the image file using another computer.

Note that the recovery disk cannot be used to (re)install Windows. It's just a stripped down bootable Windows interface that can be used for recovery tasks such as Startup Repair, System Restore, System Image Recovery and a command prompt for the brave of heart.

Downloading the Recovery Disk Image

You will need a Bittorrent client to download the NeoSmart Recovery Disc image file. NeoSmart does not actually store all of the image file on its servers; the bandwidth required to serve the image file to the many people who look for it would be very expensive. Instead, the image file is broken up in bits distributed across many servers that are part of the Bittorrent peer-to-peer file sharing world. A Bittorrent client program such as uTorrent is needed to find all the parts of the image file; download them simultaneously; and assemble them into the complete image file on your computer.

After downloading the ISO image, you'll need to burn it to a CD disc using any burning software that can handle ISO disc images. Ahead Nero is a popular commercial program that can do the job. is the home of a free ISO Image Burner utility that lacks the bells and whistles of Nero but gets the job done.

Once you have the Recovery Disc, you can insert it in your drive and restart the computer. If your computer's BIOS is configured to boot from the CD drive should the hard drive not be available, then it will do so. If not, you may have to manually tell the BIOS to boot from CD. That's an option on the BIOS Setup menu, which you can reach by holding down the Ctrl key while booting your PC. There, you should be able to set the CD as the primary boot device, or at least ensure it is in the set of devices that the BIOS checks during bootup. Once you have a bootable Windows Vista or Windows 7 Recovery Disc, keep it in a safe place. You never know when you or a friend may need it.

Do you have something to say about Windows Vista or Windows 7 recovery disks? Post your comment of question below...

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Most recent comments on "Recovery Disc for Windows Vista or Windows 7"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Jack Babcock
05 Feb 2010

In my win 7 program under backup there is both a create a system repair disc, and create a system image..
Why not use these.?

Posted by:

K Paterson
05 Feb 2010

I tried to create a Recovery disk for Vista. I am quite technically savvy and have a 50 page website. But I found this procedure far from easy. For the novice it would be daunting. They have to know whether to download the 32bit or 64 bit ISO, They have to have an ISO burner. They also have to have a Bittorrent. I could get one as long as I sent two SMS messages to get a code to enable the Bittorrent and each would cost cash. I finished up by recommending that it would be simpler to go to Ebay and try to find a reputable seller.

Posted by:

Darcetha Manning
05 Feb 2010

Thank you, Bob Rankin, for your wonderful website!It is about time that someone realized that not everyone who has a computer is a computer technician, who understands computer jargon. You take the time to break computer jargon down into plain, simple English. And you also give clear examples on where we can find stuff for free on the internet. I know you are married, but I just want to say, your wife is lucky to have such a great, patient man like you in her life. By the way, do you have any cute, single younger brothers? LOL. Take care.

Posted by:

steven richards
15 Feb 2010

I burned the DVD's when I got my two computers years ago. I was surprised as to how slow it took to recover the XP computer. Something trash my recovery partition. I just thought ALL manufacturers supplied a recovery option. Both computers are HP(XP(2 DVD's) and Vista(3 DVD's). I wonder if windows 7 requires even more DVD's

Posted by:

10 Mar 2010

Iso burning program? Try Imgburn it's fairly simple to use. No excuse on having to learn something new. Somewhere you learned to use the computer. Then try the FREE Macrium Reflect to backup and restore. Here again, here's some learning to do. Plus you've got to download the program and install it. You can get it here- The website has no malware so it's safe to get it there. Or use Microsoft's built in restore program which is not as flexible or dependable. This is advice from a self taught computer user speaking from his own experiences. Let's see- how do you start this thing? what's this button do?

Posted by:

Tom R
10 Mar 2010

Might look at Microsoft's Windows Steady State.

Get your machine set up the way you want it and Steady State can return it to that point at any time. I've got a couple of "loaner" machines I use this on. Makes for easy cleanup so it can be loaned to the next customer.

Also you can eliminate dvd's by going to a portable hard drive to store your recovery images in one single .iso file. Just make the portable drive a single use product. In other words put the image on it and set the drive on a shelf until it's needed. Experience has taught me that a label identifying the contents and the date it was created can be useful.

Posted by:

10 Mar 2010

Interesting. We just ordered as set of recovery DVDs for a two-year-old HP laptop yesterday, from HP.

To give HP credit, the disks were easy to find, and were reasonably priced ($12.95, free shipping 3 to 5 business days via snail mail)

I would be interested in a simple method to create a bootable USB key; when working on computers, it would be handy to have.

Posted by:

10 Mar 2010

Is there a Recovery Disk for XP?
If so, would I burn it to a CD or a DVD?

Posted by:

11 Jun 2010

Are the Vista & Win 7 recovery disks different or can you use a Vista recovery disk to repair a Win 7 computer and vice versa, use a Win 7 recovery disk to repair a Vista computer? If they are the same then only two CDs (32 & 64 bit) are required to repair any Vista/Win 7 computer.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure the recovery disks for Vista and Win7 are different.

Posted by:

Derek Stephenson
11 Aug 2010

How can we make this run from a USB Drive?
That would be valuable.

Posted by:

28 Oct 2010

Thanks. Just created a recovery console for Windows 7 easy to do with precise instructions. I just wish I created prior to having problems with my Windows 7 machine. Once again thanks.

Posted by:

09 Nov 2010

If you forgot to create your recovery disk before you pc cashed, you can download the Windows 7 Recovery Disks (32 and 64 bit) from here: http:// win7 recovery .com

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm allowing this post as a cautionary tale. The download links for the recovery disks that I gave in the article (NeoSmart) are the only ones I can recommend. You have NO IDEA what you might actually be getting if you download an ISO from an untrusted source. I'm not saying that the Win7Recovery site is bogus, but it does seem odd to create a site for that when one already exists.

Posted by:

Bill Sivula
18 Feb 2011

I echo Jack Babcock (05 Feb 2010).
Microsoft has a short tutorial (including video)
on "Create a System Repair Disc", @
I just created one for my Win7(64Bit), and it was
168.03MB, approximately the size that NeoSmart
said the "Recovery disc" would be (for Win7-64Bit).

Posted by:

Markus Day
05 Mar 2011

If you are looking to buy a set instead, I definitely recommend

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm guessing you recommend it because you have a personal or financial interest in the site. Your IP address and the IP address of the website are both in the Netherlands. Further, your site appears to be an affiliate link to another site that actually sells the discs. And how do we know that the site selling these recovery discs is legit?

Posted by:

22 May 2012

Dear Sir
How about this link with an iso image of windows 7
http://techpp.c o m/2009/11/11/download-windows-7-iso-official-direct-download-links/

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have no way of knowing if those are legit, or doctored in some way. Personally, I would not use them.

Posted by:

Stan Rosso
19 Mar 2013

ImgBurn is an excellent free Iso burning tool. I vastly prefer it to As a second choice I would use CDBurnerXpPro.

Posted by:

17 Apr 2013

I see others posted questions here, so I'll try....

Will a kind soul answer me please? I get frequent popups from Dell Data Safe Local Backup sitting in my task bar urging to create a System Recovery Media.

MY QUESTION: Is this the same as the recovery DVDs mentioned in this article and comments? If so, what type of disk should I buy please? I have win7.

But if it isn't, what's the easiest way to create a recovery disk as being commented here?

I find doing these tech things intimidating and afraid of doing something wrong to hurt the computer.

Thanks ever so much for your help! Adela

Posted by:

Dee Lion
06 Dec 2013

You mention a way to create recovery disks free. But when I follow your link, NeoSmart wants $19.75 for each OS that you want to download.

Posted by:

magilla gorrilla
28 May 2014

Not knocking the article it was nicely done, however the "final solution" to do a system repair on windows 7 is pathetic. Not totally knocking MS's repair disk as it does contain many specific, to the point tools that come in handy, but as a tool to fix its operating system it is an approximately 90% failure (I liberally use 90% as probably 1 out of 10 times or less it fixes the problem satisfactorily). For example, it goes through several minute (sometimes gets hung up!) scanning routine that "once in a while" does fix the disk displaying disk signature and other cryptic messages baffling to the neophyte (me, I, and myself!). As that crook told Dirty Harry, it is a "total waste of white", and that is about what this utility is, as its tools are good, but they are practically worthless at fixing a system AUTOMATICALLY without being a "wiz kid". Windows 98 had a lot of great features that MS abandoned, such as an ATTEMPT (even though quite ill fated!) at internet explorer repair, and the best being the ATTEMPT to be able to fix the system by inserting the Windows 98 disk in and it would delete the corrupted files and replace with install disk perfect files. Again this worked every so often but still was an abysmal failure that waste oodles of time going around in circles with the ultimate victim not being me, but to those that made such a rotten bunch of crap which god is in heaven taking notes to punish those later for being an butt wipe and forcing unknown people to waste their whole life in futility by trying to repair their operating system. Thats what EVERY Windows operating system is lacking & should have out of the box which is a tool that goes through the registry & file system and repairs broken/missing items. Maybe it would not work 100% of the time but at least it would not cause the agony of having to reinstall the brontosaurus size bloated operating systems of modern times as they take a long time to reinstall (for the common folk with not as good of equipment. I know get a real job and a part time one at McDonalds too, but the real world has its limitations & cash is getting harder to come by for the average bloke). In fact, Microsoft could easily create such an item but does not, and their answers from their so called "MVP's" on their web site is appalling as they many times give answers that plain old don't work & and are circular pointing back to loser solutions that are obviously wrong/ineffective. Thus the gist of my point is that your article, although good, is mostly pointless since most users are not Donald Knuth but need something that can AUTOMATICALLY repair the operating system, or at least weaken malware to the point where it can be cleaned. Better for this article would be talking about something that can FIND AND REPLACE faulty OS files & registry entries and would check their dependencies and delete malevolent links that allow malware to "creep back in".

Posted by:

Marc B.
12 Jul 2014

Microsoft programmed/invented the Recovery Discs software to fix their expensive O/S that keeps on crashing; I think it was called DART! It was going to be inherent part of Vista SP1 (and beyond...) but BEING what they are, they removed it all, in order to make yet MORE money from us "suckers", with PAID FOR "technical help", down the road! But NeoSmart caught wind of the situation and made ISO images of it all and are now extorting all of us "suckers" out here, for yet MORE money; for software they merely re-packaged!
SHAME on ALL those "greaseballs"!

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