Most HP computers use a recovery partition on the hard drive to provide the ability to restore the computer to its original state. You can order recovery discs directly from HP, but most HP or Compaq computers allow you to create restore discs. Creating recovery discs is less costly than ordering them and much faster than having them shipped. Due to licensing, each HP computer can only create one set of recovery discs. These discs delete all data from the system and reinstall the operating system, programs, and drivers that originally shipped with the computer.
Back up any data or programs that cannot be recovered. The restore process deletes all data from the hard drive, including user documents, downloads and pictures.
Remove any external hard drives, additional hard drives installed after purchase, thumb drives or other media devices.
Insert the first recovery disc. The discs are numbered to allow easy identification. Turn off the computer and disconnect all devices except for the keyboard, monitor, mouse and power cord. Turn on the computer and follow the onscreen directions to boot from the recovery disc.
Click "Next" in the Recovery Manager program. Click "No" to the prompt asking to use Microsoft System Restore. Click "Next" again and follow the onscreen instructions to back up your files. Click "No" if you do not wish to back up files. Follow the onscreen instructions and insert the other discs when prompted.
Restart the computer into Windows set-up after the system recovery is complete and follow the onscreen instructions. Allow Windows set-up to complete reinstallation. Turn off the computer when completed, reconnect all devices and turn the computer back on.
Click "Start," "Windows Update" and "Check for updates" to install Windows updates.
Reinstall your programs and return user data from your backup source.
HP recommends that you back up important files before recovering your computer. HP provides a backup feature in its Vista recovery discs.
Performing a Destructive Recovery will format your hard drive, deleting all information and restoring the operating system software back to factory defaults. Performing a System Recovery simply replaces the existing operating system and programs without formatting and erasing the hard drive. Failure to remove any external hard drives, additional hard drives installed after purchase, thumb drives or other media devices before proceeding with a system recovery may result in data loss in these devices.