What To Do If Your Recovery Disks Do Not Work

| January 10, 2014

You’ve been responsible. You’ve either created those recovery disks like you were supposed to or you saved the disks that came with the computer. Yet when you try to use them, the recovery disks do not work or the first couple of disks work but it fails on the last disk. Recovery disks are supposed to be full-proof. You put them in starting with the first disk and sit there and wait for it to ask for the next. But as is often the case, there is some type of complication with the recovery process and you wind up having to call support.

recovery disks do not work

Things To Try If Your Recovery Disks Do Not Work

  1. Make sure you are using the correct recovery disks. If you’re anything like me, you have several sets of recovery disks lying around for different machines.
  2. Make sure you change the boot order in the BIOS to look for the CD drive first. Otherwise, it will try and boot to the hard drive. If you carefully watch the boot screen, you’ll see which key to press to enter the BIOS setup. Once there, look for the Boot Sequence and make the CD drive is first. Press F10 to save and exit.
  3. If the computer is starting the recovery process but not finishing, try unplugging all USB devices, such as printers, scanners, cameras, etc. It might be something as simple as a driver problem that is causing the computer to hang on install. If you have added hardware since you bought it, remove it. Try and get the machine back to the same hardware configuration as the day you bought it. The Operating System, Applications and Drivers are all on the recover disks and are expecting your configuration to be the same as it was.
  4. If it still fails, see if your machine has a recovery partition and reinstall from that. Modern computers ship with the hard drive split into two partitions–a C drive and a D drive. The recovery partition is on the D drive. During the boot screen, you might see an option to boot to the recovery partition. Some machines will use the CTRL key + F11 when booting. Some will have you tap the F8 key during boot and select Advanced Boot Options. If you have a Dell, read their recovery options for your OS. If you have an HP, try the HP recovery options.
  5. You might have a bad Optical Drive (CD / DVD Drive). If the alignment is slightly off on the drive, it might not read the data correctly on the disks you created. Commercial disks, like the disks you buy in the store, are easier to read because they were created with better drives and materials. If you have another drive, try swapping it in. Warning: If the disks were created with a DVD drive, make sure you put a DVD drive in as a replacement, and not a standard CD drive, as it will not see the disks.
  6. Your hard drive might be going bad. If the disks are trying to write to a bad hard drive, the install will fail. Was the computer crashing or locking up a lot prior to you wanting to reinstall? If so, the hard drive might be bad and you should replace it before continuing.

If you’ve tried all of these suggestions and you your recovery disks do not work, you might need to either break down and upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 or contact the manufacturer and ask for them to ship you a set of recovery disks. There is a small fee for this, but it will often work if you have a good hard drive and optical drive on your computer.

Category: Hardware

Dave

About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

Comments (2)

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  1. ray marsh says:

    Have a HP g6 notebook. System crashed totally.Tried re install from Factory installed “D” drive, each attempt to fix failed with error message “Install Incomplete”. So out with the trusty back up disc’s to find exactly the same response. Tried everything I know,all failed so off to the experts for repair under warranty. Reason for failures provided by Tech’s…… Faulty hard drive, so there you go, several frustrating days of trying to fix something that was broke in some way. Ray

  2. Sheri says:

    Good tip about unplugging all USB devices before attempting to run recovery either from optical disks or from the recovery partition and I’m sure it’s something a lot of people either never do or forget to do occasionally.

    One point worth mentioning is that if you are running Windows 8, you will have to enter the ‘BIOS’ and disable Secure Boot and enable legacy devices before your computer will boot from any recovery disks. This is a very scary task for an average user, especially one who is new to Windows 8, as a great big warning pops up asking you to agree before you can do so! And also because there is no help to tell you which feature you have to disable or enable first etc.!

    My first recovery process on my new Windows 8 desktop failed catastrophically because I did not know I should have disabled Secure Boot before I started. In fact, all attempts to recover it to factory conditions failed so catastrophically that I had to buy a set of recovery disk from HP – and even they did not work! HP ended up collecting the PC and taking it away to be reformatted!