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Build an XP SP3 Recovery Disc
PC Magazine - Jul 13, 2008
Here's the problem: Once you upgrade your XP installation to Service Pack 3, Windows won't ever allow you to install an older version (including earlier ...
Odds are your computer came with a recovery disc, a CD with all the programs and drivers that were installed on your PC's hard drive when it was new. And odds are you have absolutely no idea where that disc is.
The good news is that it probably doesn't matter. First of all, the recovery media most PC manufacturers provide is designed for a singular purpose: to restore your computer to the state it was in when you bought it. This process typically involves wiping your hard drive (say bye-bye to your spreadsheets and vacation photos) and then reinstalling Windows and the handful of programs originally included with your system. Unless you're simply preparing the whole kit and caboodle to sell on eBay, this is probably not something you will ever need.
Second, the hardware drivers on your recovery CD are almost certainly out of date, either made obsolete by newer and better versions available online, or simply irrelevant to new hardware you've subsequently installed.
Instead of fretting about the old recovery CD you lost (or perhaps never got), why not take a few minutes and make one of your own?
Ideally, a recovery disc should act as a safety net should anything disagreeable happen to your PC's hard drive or its data. (Think crash, virus, spyware attack, driver corruption, and so on.) A good recovery disc allows you to reinstall Windows to fix a minor problem or rebuild your PC from scratch to recover from a major one.
Here's the problem: Once you upgrade your XP installation to Service Pack 3, Windows won't ever allow you to install an older version (including earlier editions of XP) without either wiping the hard drive clean or installing to a different drive. Even if you do install "fresh," you'll still have to then endure a separate SP3 upgrade. The solution is to create a new hybrid installation disc from whatever installer CD you have and a special version of SP3, using a process known as slipstreaming (etymology: fluid mechanics, or the "Hope and Fear" episode of Star Trek: Voyager.)
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