Check With Laptop Manufacturer
- Some laptop manufacturers will allow you to purchase complete recovery discs to restore the laptop to its original condition. You will need to provide the model and serial numbers for your laptop. Before proceeding, check with your laptop manufacturer to see if recovery discs are available. These discs will include all additional software provided when the computer was new, in addition to the original operating system.
Assess What You Have
- You will need three items to create your recovery disc: the product key to your operating system: the operating system installation CD: and space on your hard drive to create the recovery disc before burning it to a CD. You will need around 1.5 gigabytes of available space on your hard drive. As mentioned, you may not have received a copy of the installation disc with your used laptop. If this is the case, installation media without product keys are common items found at online auction websites and can be purchased for around $10.
Create Slipstream Folders
- You will need to create the recovery disc using a term known among information technology professionals as "slipstreaming." Organize two separate folders. Name the first "OS" and the second "Updates." Copy the entire contents of the installation CD by selecting the root folder of the disc and copying it to the "OS" folder you created. Download self-installing versions of the updates to the "Updates" folder. For Microsoft operating systems (XP or newer) you may want to include an "answer file" that automatically enters the 25-digit product key during the recovery process so you don't have to enter it manually when it's requested. This allows for an unattended recovery process.
Create the Boot Disc
- With your original operating system install disc loaded into your disc drive, you need to use disc burning software that allows you to extract the boot loader information off your original installation CD. Next you will need to extract the data from the installation disc as a disc image, and then save the image to the folder you created on your laptop hard drive. The software also should allow you to create a bootable CD. Using this software, you will want to write the image you created. Select options that make the CD bootable using the Joliet file system with no emulation. With the CD burned, you will have a bootable recovery disc that will restore your used laptop's original operating system and updates.