A few tips on recovering a hard disk on a system.
If your hard disk has a problem and gets corrupt and you think the only way to recover the system is to go back to the pre-install cd that came with the computer. Before you re-install your XP or Vista operating systems then first consider the following:-
How much data do I have on this disk, if the answer is a lot and you MUST get it back then the safest option is to go to your pc shop buy a new hard disk, install it in to the computer. Do your recovery to the new hard disk or the new installation XP or Vista (disconnect the old disk first before you do this), install your undelete or recovery software on to this, reconnect the old disk and then recover your data to the new disk, saves over writing data on old disk. After you have recovered all the data you want then re-format this disk so it is clean, and then copy a copy of your data back onto the disk so you have 2 copies of your data. This process gives youa way back if you have decided to just update to a new operating system, ifit does not go smoothly you have a way to fall back to your previous working system with no data loss.
Folks always look at having two copies of your data so that you can always go back to your copy if you have problems on the main disk. It is so cheap to buy an additional internal disk or a USB external disk these days. How much is your data worth to you at the end of the data, if you have photos that are priceless to you the it is a no brainer. A hard disk has moving parts and at some point it WILL die, it maybe a month, a year even 10 years or even longer but at some point it will stop working, if you have a duplicate of your data some where if a disk becomes faulty your data is safe and your options as to what to do to the faulty disk are then open.
Microsoft produce a free software package called Synctoy that allows you to copy data from one disk to another at the simple click of the mouse, I use it to mirror 2 external hard disks that have all my photos, music on, It knows what is on each disk and only copies changes or new data from disk to disk. I also use another external hard disk that my main internal hard disk is backed up to for the applications.
These disks only need to be turned on or powered up when you want to copy more data to them so they dont need to be on all the time if you dnt want.
Other medias that data can also be backed up to are CDs/DVDs , memory sticks or tape. So if you dont decide to use an additional disk then use one of the other options.
I know it sounds obviiouse but you only really think about it when it happens and then it could be to late. The old saying you learn by your mistakes, having been in that position before myself dont let it happen to you. I have been lucky in that I can recover the data as I work in the IT side but others have not been so lucky.
If you would like any more info then please feel free to ask