Friday, February 25, 2011

Recovery Disks vs. Repair Disk

Recently I got this question from a customer:
I got a message saying you need to create System Recovery Discs. Is this necessary with all the changes you did to our new computer?
Please be aware of the difference between a Repair Disk and System Recovery (or System Restore) Disks. Some programs that can write System Recovery Disks can also write System Repair Disks.

Repair Disks are operating system specific and can help to repair an operating system that does not boot anymore. They got introduced with Windows Vista.

Vista and Windows 7 can create Repair Disks natively, that is without additional software.

Recovery Disks (or Restore Disks) can restore a computer system completely to the exact state it was in when the Recovery Disks were created. On Windows 7 no special software is needed to create Recovery Disks. Many manufacturers now supply such software under various names pre-installed with their systems.

But BEWARE: Many manufacturer programs will give you "Recovery Disks" that will recover the computer to the original, factory installed state. And trust me, you don't want to go back there and as a consequence loose all updates, additionally installed programs and personalized settings. And with one wrong selection you could loose ALL your data files as well! 

In their own documentation Microsoft does not always clearly distinguish between system Repair and system Recovery (or Restore). Beware of the ensuing confusion.

There is a fairly good explanation of the term "Recovery Disk" on Wikipedia. Only the sentence "OEM supplied recovery media is commonly shipped with most computers" is not correct any longer. Since the introduction of Windows Vista in late 2006 I see on new Vista and Win7 computers only software installed to create such disks; generally there are no disks being supplied any more. And any manufacturer supplied recovery disk will very likely restore your computer to it's original state; see the paragraph above that begins with "But Beware".
After an eventual catastrophic event System Recovery Disks allow you to completely recover the system to exactly the state it was in at the moment the Recovery Disks were made, including all your programs and data. You need several DVDs for one set of Recovery Disks so you should buy at least 5 or 10 recordable DVDs, NOT CDs! Naturally your computer needs to be equipped with a DVD writer to be able to create the recovery disks.

IMHO it is always advised to make System Recovery Disks, not even only once after a new computer has been set up but after every major change or update.

And it is advised as well to create a System Repair disk; this needs to be done only once. If you did not do it or if this function got left out by the manufacturer of your system then I can help; I have a complete set of Repair Disks for Vista and Windows 7 in their 32-bit and 64-bit variants.

After you have made the first set of Recovery Disks the reminder message mentioned in my customer's email will not come up anymore but the software should still be on your computer in the All Programs menu.

In the past I have seen that some manufacturer in their eternal wisdom choose to remove the software after the first set of disks was created. Should that happen on your machine don't despair, there is other free software available that can write Recovery disks. Repair disks can be downloaded from Microsoft.

If you got confused by the above please don't despair. The Windows Secrets blog has a completely different way to describe the same theme while talking about all these options quite differently.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Firefox Does Not Show Adobe PDF Files

Recently I get many calls because PDF files don't show correctly in Firefox.

This is a known incompatibility between late versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader and Firefox. Here is what to do about it:

First you have to make sure you have Adobe Reader version X running. By the way, the X stands for the Roman numeral 10. As of this writing Adobe Reader's most current version is 10.0.1. You find the version number by opening Adobe Reader, clicking Help, About Adobe Reader. The version number is in the bottom left corner of the About window.

If you are on anything older than Acrobat Reader version 10 you should first download the latest version from a safe and fast download location for Adobe Reader like this one here. After the download you have to run the downloaded installer (or setup) program.

After the installation is done you have to do a simple setting in Firefox to avoid problems. In Firefox:
  1. Click Tools, Options, Applications.
  2. In the Options window:
    -   Find all entries for "Adobe Acrobat..." with a PDF icon (below marked red).
    For every entry:
    -   on the right side click on the entry and then on the drop down arrow (below marked blue)
    -   and select "Use Adobe Reader (default)", below marked pink.
  3. Click OK and all should be fine.
The Options window should look like this:

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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for a categorized Table Of Contents.