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If you're like most PC users, you probably got Windows Vista with a new PC or laptop. And if you're like 99% of the population, you get your new machines from one of the major manufacturers. Dell, Acer, HP, Toshiba, Lenovo, they all have one thing in common: they don't give you a real Windows Vista installation disc with your purchase.
The problem is, with Windows Vista, the installation media serves more than one purpose. It's not just a way to get Windows installed, it's also the only way of recovering a borked installation. The Windows Vista DVD has a "recovery center" that provides you with the option of recovering your system via automated recovery (searches for problems and attempts to fix them automatically), rolling-back to a system restore point, recovering a full PC backup, or accessing a command-line recovery console for advanced recovery purposes.
Microsoft seems to have realized this problem, and have thankfully made a recovery disc for this purpose. It contains the contents of the Windows Vista DVD's "recovery center,". It cannot be used to install or reinstall Windows Vista, and just serves as a Windows PE interface to recovering your PC. But a REAL lifesaver if you misplaced or never made your own backup discs!!
It is a 120 MB download, and in the standard ISO format.
You'll need to burn this ISO image to a CD or DVD before you can use it as a bootable recovery medium.