What’s the difference between a System Recovery disc and Windows 7’s System Repair disc?
Q: What’s the difference between a “System Recovery” disc and a “System Repair” disc?
A: Your computer’s System Recovery Discs and Windows 7’s System Repair Disc are both designed for getting you out of emergencies by fixing your PC’s problems. However, the two types of discs accomplish this in very different ways. (They’re also both completely different from a System Image disc and Windows 8’s new Recovery Drive.)
System Recovery Discs
Added as a menu option on many new PCs, System Recovery Discs come straight from your PC’s manufacturer. The manufacturer often provides an option to create these discs the first time you turn on your computer. When you click the “Create System Recovery Discs” option, you end up feeding blank CDs or DVDs into your PC. Eventually, you’ll end up with a set of discs that can restore your PC to its original purchased condition.
On the good side, System Recovery Discs come in handy in an emergency. Just feed your PC the System Recovery Discs, and your PC regresses into the same machine you originally brought home from the store.
On the bad side, however, you’ll lose every program, photo, and file you’ve stored on that PC since you bought it. System Recovery Discs only care about returning your PC to its original, first-purchased, condition. Everything else is swept away.
Gateway, Dell, Hewlett Packard, and other vendors offer more information about their System Recovery Discs on their web sites. Most also offer ways to purchase a set of System Recovery Discs, if you’re having trouble creating them.
System Repair Disc
Microsoft built a System Repair Disc option into Windows 7 that works quite differently from your PC manufacturer’s System Recovery Discs. When your PC no longer runs properly, insert Windows 7’s System Repair Disc into your PC, and flip your PC’s On switch. Instead of returning your PC to its original condition, the System Repair Disc offers several menu options:
- Startup Repair. This examines Windows 7’s most integral files, then repairs any missing or damaged files that may be keeping Windows 7 from starting.
- System Restore. Just like the normal System Restore option, this restores your PC’s system files to an earlier point in time, hopefully fixing any recently developed problems. It doesn’t affect your personal files, like e‑mail, documents, or photos. There’s one key difference between this version of System Restore, though: When run from the System Repair Disc menu, System Restore doesn’t have an undo option. (However, you can run System Restore again and choose a different restore point, if one exists.)
- System Image Recovery. If you’ve created a “System Image” in Windows 7’s backup options, this option returns your PC to the condition it was in when you made the System Image backup. It’s truly a lifesaver, but only if you create System Image disks regularly.
- Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool. Designed to ferret out hardware problems, this examines your PC’s memory for errors.
- Command Prompt. This lets techies dig deep into Windows’ internal crevices. It’s designed for people comfortable typing in commands, not moving around a mouse.
In short, the System Recovery discs return your PC to the state it was when first purchased, scrapping all your data while along the way. The System Repair disc, by contrast, offers tools to help bring your ailing PC back to life, keeping all your valuable files safe.
When in trouble, always try your System Repair disc first, as it may solve your problem. Only use the System Recovery Discs as a last resort, as they wipe out everything you’ve created since buying your PC.