HP Notebook PCs - FAQ On Repairing Or Reinstalling The Operating System
This document pertains to HP and Compaq notebook computers with Windows 7, Vista, or XP.
This document contains a collection of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) people have about repairing or reinstalling an operating system. Review the FAQs below to help you find information you need to recover your computer to a proper operating condition. Included are recommendations on what should be done to resolve these common problems, and links to more technical and detailed documents.
What is a recovery?
The recovery process returns your HP or Compaq Notebook computer to its original operating condition by removing all software and files saved to the hard drive, reinstalling the original operating system, and then installing and setting up all of the original programs.
HP has provided several different recovery solutions for different models and operating systems since 1999 because computer technologies have changed. You will perform different actions for the different recovery solutions. Please take a few minutes to review this document for a discussion of common issues and questions, and tips on recovering your computer to its original operating system.
To determine which process is the right recovery solution for your computer, see Overview of Recovering the OS or Reinstalling the Operating System.
Why would I want to run a recovery?
Most people will never have to recover a computer to its original condition. Performing a recovery is necessary if there is a major hardware failure, or if the operating system is corrupted and does not run any programs. If the computer is working but you think there is a major problem, before doing a recovery, you should run both the Microsoft Windows Update function, and the HP support tools.
For XP, go to the Drivers and Download page for your specific product to download the updated drivers.
When should I do a recovery?
A system recovery should be considered as a last-step action because it erases all your programs and files, and returns the computer to its original condition. You should consider performing a recovery only after you have tried all the other troubleshooting actions to resolve a problem. After doing a recovery, you will need to reinstall all of your favorite programs, restore all your personal files, and apply all the operating system and driver updates.
However, if you have been working with support agents and they suggest doing a recovery, that may be the best way to resolve your problem. Remember that you must back up all your files before starting a recovery because a recovery destroys all the data on the computer.
To learn what is involved in doing a system recovery, see Overview of Recovering the OS or Reinstalling the Operating System.
What can I do instead of running a recovery?
Because a recovery is a destructive process that deletes all your programs and personal files, you should try to fix any problems with the computer before attempting a recovery. Doing a recovery, reinstalling the programs, and reconfiguring the computer to your personal tastes can take several hours of your time.
Troubleshoot & fix the specific problem
The HP web site provides a library of self-help documents on how to troubleshoot and resolve most problems by yourself.
On the HP web site home page (www.hp.com), select the Support & Drivers tab, enter your Product Number and click Go. Selecting your specific product narrows the search results to documents appropriate to your computer.
Run the HP Support Assistant
For notebooks with Windows 7 or Vista, you should install and run the HP Support Assistant. This application will perform a maintenance analysis and automatically apply fixes to resolve most known problems. See the HP Support Assistant home site (in English) to download the latest version.
Perform a Windows System Restore
If your computer suddenly develops a problem, perform a Windows System Restore. The Microsoft Windows System Restore function returns the computer to a previously chosen restore point, which resets all of the settings for the operating system to those settings that existed at the time the restore point was created. No personal data files, such as email, documents, or pictures are lost.
Windows System Restore is a Microsoft program and should not be confused with HP Recovery Manager. See Using Microsoft System Restore (Windows 7), Using Microsoft System Restore (Windows Vista), or Using Microsoft System Restore in Windows Me and XP for more information.
Backup Important Files
Before trying to restore the operating system, you should back up any files that you want to save, because the recovery process will destroy all the files on the hard drive. To remind you, the Recovery Manager displays a prompt to make a backup copy of your files before it performs any action that may erase or delete any files. To use the HP Recovery Manager to back up your files, see Backing Up Your Files (Windows 7), or How to Back Up Your Files (Windows Vista or XP).
Install updates after recovery
After performing a system recovery, you must reinstall and update all of your software and drivers, and reestablish the internet connection. Use the original manufacturer's disc to install your software programs, and then go to the manufacturer's web sites to download and install all updates.
It is important to apply all Windows recommended updates and security patches. See Setting up Your PC After a Recovery (Windows 7), Setting up Your PC After a Recovery (Windows Vista), or Things To Do After Performing a System Recovery in Windows XP for more information.
Why didn’t my PC come with Recovery discs?
HP stopped shipping the Windows XP operating system recovery discs in 2005, and never shipped recovery discs on computers with Vista or Windows 7. The HP Recovery Manager program is part of the original hard drive image on HP computers and can be used to recover the operating system from files stored in a partition on the hard drive without needing recovery discs. It can also be used to create a personalized recovery disc for a specific notebook computer.
A replacement recovery disk can be purchased for most models. See Looking for Recovery Discs? for more information.
Cannot find a recovery utility on the web /
No place to download or order a recovery disc
No place to download or order a recovery disc
You can order a replacement recovery disc on the web site for most models. You cannot download a recovery utility. A recovery disc may no longer be available for old or unsupported models.
Because each recovery disc is designed for a specific series of computer, you must go to the Drivers and Download page for your specific model and operating system. If a recovery disc is available, it is listed under the "Recovery Media" driver heading and only for the supported OS. When you select the specific recovery media, a link opens to a web-based order form for that specific disc and country/region.
If a Recovery Media entry is not listed on the drivers and download page, click Contact HP link at the top of the web page, and choose a contact option to speak to a support agent and order the replacement discs. There may be a fee for the replacement discs. See Looking for Recovery Discs? for more information
My PC does not have a DVD drive
Most mini notebooks do not have an optical disc drive. You can connect an external USB hard drive or optical drive to back up and restore files. You can also create a bootable recovery disc on a 16 GB USB flash drive. See Creating Recovery Discs or Saving a Recovery Image to a USB Flash Drive (Windows 7) for more information.
Can I upgrade my 32 bit system to the 64 bit operating OS?
Your computer was built to process either 32 bit or 64 bit groupings of information. If you wish to decrease performance of your 64 bit computer, you can install a 32 bit operating system. However, a 64 bit operating system cannot be installed on a computer with 32 bit hardware components. To learn more about 64-bit computing from the Microsoft Web site, see Microsoft Web page 32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions (in English).
I do not like the OS and I want to change it
Before changing the operating system, you should consider the fact that the computer's hardware and software components were designed for a specific OS. Except in rare circumstances, HP does not provide driver and software support if you change your product to a different OS. That means, if you change the OS, some of the hardware components, like sound and video or webcam may have limited functionality or may not work at all with the new OS.
For a list of things you should consider before changing the OS, see Issues with Changing the Operating System from Windows 7 to Windows Vista or XP.
Computer will not start and I need to run a recovery /
Windows does not start or displays an error message
Windows does not start or displays an error message
If, when you press the power button, the display remains blank or black, and there is no fan or disc noise, there may be a hardware issue. The computer must be able to recognize the hard drive and optical disc drive before you attempt to do a recovery. For instance, if the notebook has been dropped or jarred, you may need to reseat the hard drive and the memory modules to make the computer operational.
Performing a hard reset and using the troubleshooting tips in Overview of Troubleshooting Startup Problems (Windows 7, Vista, XP) may correct startup problems allowing you to avoid a system recovery.
If the fan and hard drive can be heard and the LEDs blink, but the computer cannot display the Windows desktop, you may have a corrupted Windows or BIOS installation. If the notebook was made and sold in 2008 or later, it may have a UEFI pre-BIOS environment, and you can run hardware diagnostic tools by turning on the power and immediately pressing the f2 key. See HP Startup Menu Overview for more information.
Computer stopped working while creating recovery discs
If the computer is just paused, it may not be a problem. The disc creation process has to do a lot of error checking and the computer may pause and wait for 30 minutes or more before it takes the next visible action during the creation process. Use the correct type of DVD disc and try creating the recovery disc again. Be patient and allow the creation process to complete.
Got an error message while creating a recovery disc
Using a re-writable DVD-RW disc will cause an error when trying to create a recovery disc. The DVD may be either a DVD-R or DVD+R format. After getting an error message, you can try re-running the disc creation program with the correct type of DVD. If that effort fails, go to the Drivers and Download page for your model and order a replacement disc. See Looking for Recovery Discs? for more information.
My recovery disc does not work /
Got an error message during recovery
Got an error message during recovery
Unless the hard drive is corrupted or you have changed the OS, you can try running the recovery from the recovery partition on the hard drive. To run the recovery, turn on the power and press the f11 key multiple times to start the program. If the recovery manager program on the recovery partition does not work, order a replacement recovery disc from HP.
For solutions to other known recovery issues, see System Recovery May Fail or Display Error Message (Windows 7, or Vista).
I lost my recovery disc
If you lost your disc, or did not make a disc before the hard drive crashed, or if the recovery manager program on the recovery partition does not work, contact HP to order a replacement recovery disc. You can order the disc on-line, or you can click Contact HP on the top of this web page and call your HP support agent. You will need both the Product Number and the Serial Number of the computer to purchase a replacement disc. See Looking for Recovery Discs? for more information.
Where can I order a replacement recovery disc on the web?
There is no single URL on the web to order a disc, and you cannot download a recovery disc because recovery discs are model and OS specific. You must know your specific product number or model name.
To purchase a replacement recovery disc, go to the Drivers and Download page for your specific model, and then select the original operating system. If there is a Recovery Media entry, select it and follow the online ordering instructions.
If there is no Recovery Media entry for the original operating system, click the Contact HP link at the top of this web page, and follow the instructions to call your HP support agent and order the disc.
The recovery failed to start, or did not complete
There are several possible reasons for errors when recovering your computer to the original condition. One common solution is to perform a hard reset before trying to do a recovery. Remember that you should disconnect all peripheral devices and turn on the wireless device switch before running the recovery from a recovery disc.
What is a hard reset?
A hard reset clears all temporary settings and forces Windows to do a complete scan of the system to recognize hardware components like the hard disc or optical disc drive. Follow the steps below to perform a hard reset.
Unplug the AC adapter from the notebook computer.
Remove the battery from the notebook battery compartment.
Remove the computer from any port replicator or docking station, disconnect cables to printers or devices such as external monitors, USB memory sticks or SD cards, headset or external speakers, mouse or auxiliary keyboard, and turn off WIFI and Bluetooth wireless devices.
Press and hold down the power button for about 15 seconds to drain any residual electrical charge from the capacitors that protect the memory.
Insert the battery and plug the AC adapter back into the notebook computer. Do not connect any of the peripheral devices.
Press the power button to turn the notebook computer back on.
If prompted to boot into Safe Mode or select a special type of startup, use the arrow keys to highlight Start Windows Normally, and then press the enter key.
After running a recovery, my programs and files are gone
The recovery process deletes all the files on the hard drive and installs only the original programs and drivers. Before running a recovery, you are prompted to back up your files to a memory stick, DVD, or other external storage device. Files that were deleted during a recovery cannot be restored. Also, any new programs or updates were deleted and must be reinstalled. See Backing Up Your Files (Windows 7), or How to Back Up Your Files (Windows Vista or XP) for more information.
Some of the hardware devices do not work /
I want to reinstall the hardware drivers
I want to reinstall the hardware drivers
The problem may be that the required drivers are missing or corrupted. Rather than doing a recovery, if the computer can start into Windows, run the Recovery Manager and select the Advanced options to reinstall original drivers and applications.
I changed the operating system and there are no drivers
That is to be expected. The computer hardware and software are designed for a specific OS, and HP provides support for the original OS. If you choose to change your computer to an unsupported OS, HP suggested that you visit the software manufacturer's web site for support.
If you have changed to a different version of Windows, you can try running the Microsoft Windows Update function to install the generic drivers and software from Microsoft.
You can also search the internet for articles on how to find generic drivers and software. View the HP User Forums (English) or (Español) or (Français) or (Português) or (Simplified Chinese) for information from other people who may have a similar issue.
If you cannot resolve the problems after changing the operating system, consider ordering a replacement recovery disc and returning the computer to its original OS. Once you recover the original OS, run the Recovery Manager to reinstall the hardware drivers and original programs. See Looking for Recovery Discs? for more information.
The replacement recovery disc has been running for over an hour and is not complete yet
The HP Recovery Manger originally installed on your computer let you create a recovery disc - specific to your computer - that can return the notebook to operating condition in 30 - 45 minutes. On the other hand, the HP replacement recovery discs are designed to support multiple models and may take 4 - 6 hours or more to complete.
During the recovery process, the computer may appear to pause for long periods of time, but you should not interrupt the process or turn off the computer until a prompt to login to the Windows system is displayed. If the Recovery is interrupted, you can turn off the computer and restart the Recovery process. See System Recovery May Fail or Display Error Message (Windows 7, or Vista) for more information.
After a recovery, the OS needs to be activated
If the correct recovery disc is used, and the system board has not been changed, it should not be necessary to activate the operating system. Read the activation notice carefully. It may be a notice to reactivate the Microsoft Office or Word program. See Windows 7, Vista, XP Product Activation for more information.
After changing the OS, I want to order a recovery disc for the original OS
After changing the OS, I want to order a recovery disc for the new OS
Your HP software license allows you to recover the original OS only. You cannot order a recovery disc from HP for a different operating system. If you choose to run a different OS, you can purchase a retail copy of the operating system from an authorized dealer. You can use that copy to restore the computer to operating condition.
To reinstall the original recovery manager, you must recover the computer to the original HP OS image. You can use either the personalized recovery discs that you created, or you can order a replacement recovery disc from HP. Go to the Drivers and Download page your model and order replacement discs. See Looking for Recovery Discs? for more information.
Changed the OS and neither the F11 nor the Recovery Manager work
The Recovery Manager on the special recovery partition is designed for a specific operating system and cannot run in the new OS. If you changed the OS by doing an upgrade or a clean install, the process might have either corrupted the files or overwritten the files on the recovery partition.
For Windows 7, to fix the recovery manager to run when the F11 key is pressed, install the Recovery Manager Installer Patch for Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade for your model notebook from the Drivers and Download page. Use the patch designed for your specific model. Since the computer was upgraded from Vista to Windows 7, the F11 recovery will return the computer to the Windows Vista OS. You can repeat the upgrade process using the HP Windows 7 upgrade disc.
For computers upgraded from Windows XP to Vista, use your recovery disc to reinstall the original XP operating system. Then, upgrade from XP to Vista. See Upgrading to Windows Vista Using the HP Express Upgrade Kit for more information.
How do I restore my backed up files?
How do I get rid of the recovery partition and use the space?
The recovery partition occupies a small part of the hard drive, and this space is used to provide a proven solution for recovering your computer to its original operating condition. HP does not recommend the removal of the recovery partition.
If finding more hard drive storage space is an issue, consider moving unneeded or infrequently used files onto an external storage device. If connected to a personal network, use a single large network drive and share the files from any where on the network.
If you review the options and decide that you must remove the recovery partition, see Uninstalling or Removing the Recovery Manager. If you have changed to an OS that does not provide a utility for removing or resizing the partition on the hard drive, you must use a third-party partition manager to reclaim the space used by the recovery partition.
What should I do before running a recovery?
During the recovery process, all personal data and software that is installed on the computer is deleted. Before beginning the recovery process, HP recommends that you make a backup copy of all personal data. See Backing Up Your Files (Windows 7), How to Back Up Your Files (Windows Vista or XP) for more information.
What should I do after performing a system recovery?
After performing a system recovery, you must reinstall and update all of your software and drivers, and reestablish the Internet connection. Use the original manufacturer's disc to install your software programs, and then go to the manufacturer's web sites to download and install all updates.
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