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Big Box Store Reps Push Unnecessary Recovery Discs

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the cha-ching dept.

The Almighty Buck 380

Ed Albro, PC World writes "At PC World, we've got a story today on salespeople at Best Buy and Circuit City pushing consumers to pay the stores' technicians to create recovery discs for their new laptops. Recovery discs are important to have, of course, but the fact is that they're easy to make yourself. Or you can get them from the manufacturer of your PC, often for half of what Best Buy and Circuit City charge you. The salespeople often tell you that you can buy from the manufacturer — but they claim you'll pay twice as much as the stores charge."

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What happened? (5, Interesting)

ChrisMP1 (1130781) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416745)

I remember when it was commonplace to get a recovery disc along with your computer; now you have to pay (quite a bit) for software that's already on your system. What happened?

Re:What happened? (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416795)

The manufacturer can make more $ by saving those few pennies. ( even 10 cents adds up when you sell millions of units )

And, if you dont create one and then have your PC crash they might even get a service call out of you too.

Turnabout! (2, Interesting)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416861)

What people buying from them should do, is, upon being told about the disks and the charge for them, DEMAND they be included free, or they will not buy the computer.

If the salesman refuses, raise hell with his manager. Purchaser gets the disks for free, salesman gets reprimanded (or fired).


Re:Turnabout! (5, Insightful)

bteeter (25807) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417055)

Selling computers without a recovery disk is just not smart IMO. Once you have sufficient problem to warrant restoring the computer, you're already pissed that its broken. Maybe your not pissed at the manufacturer of the PC at that point, because its not necessarily their fault.

But once you find out that its now NOT fixable because they were too cheap to give you a 25 cent to make recovery disk with your $400+ PC you WILL be pissed at them.

Its just bad business practice to me.

Re:Turnabout! (2, Insightful)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417203)

I didn't get a recovery disk, but also didn't care, because I never booted the damned thing into Vista anyway. Ubuntu provides iso's of my "recovery disk" free of charge :)

Re:Turnabout! (5, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417339)

If the salesman refuses, raise hell with his manager. Purchaser gets the disks for free, salesman gets reprimanded (or fired).

You forget the managers job. His job is to ensure his staff have the tools and pliable morals to sell you things. He won't be reprimanded or fired instead he's be "coached" on how to sell it to you without getting you angry. Perhaps he'll be told a better lie to use.

It's the Revenue, baby! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417185)

I remember when it was commonplace to get a recovery disc along with your computer; now you have to pay (quite a bit) for software that's already on your system. What happened?

It's one more trick, like extended warrantees, to fleece the consumer and add to the bottom line for the store. (I remember being offered an extended warrantee on something years ago and having to point out to the salesman that the item already came with a 5 year warrantee. Dar!

I will say this, however. It is a good idea to make Recovery Discs or get them from the manufacturer ASAP, because often I find you can't get get them a couple years later.

"Support for that old thing?!? We haven't made that for almost 16 months. I don't think you'll be able to find anything for that now."

It's all part of Just-In-Time (JIT) delivery, to elminate warehousing. JIT means all the bits arrive at the distribtion center at the same time to go out to stores. The closest thing they see to a warehouse is a container. This means the parent corporation stores virtually nothing. Once the model is out of production you have to find service and support through servicing companies, not too many of them like to keep warehouses either.

Re:What happened? (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417295)

Yah, and software used to come with handy instruction manuals too, but now you're lucky if you get a scrap of paper with a website address on it. It's all about squeezing every last cent of profit out of your product. It's no longer about how you can make the best product for your customers, it's about how many corners you can cut before people just stop buying from you. As it turns out, consumers will put up with a lot of garbage like this before they'll even consider not buying.


zoomshorts (137587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417445)

Most modern PC manufacturers have a hidden Recovery partition on the hard drive
which contains the factory image and an install program.

You notice how they do not ship recovery cd's /DVD's with the new PC's?

Try hitting F11 or another F key during bootup. IBM has had this for years.
Others do this too. Easier for tech support and users who lose discs far
too often.

Neener neener. Yep, they saved a few pennies :)


dballanc (100332) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417511)

That's just swell until your drive dies or you want to upgrade it. It's a convenience and nothing more. About like making a 'backup' folder on your hard drive. Nice for user induced error recovery, pointless if you have a real failure.

Ahhh.... Young'uns.... (2, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417473)

I remember when you got the whole OS in it full retail box... With manuals no less. Heckpirate., I remember when MS was spouting that getting your manuals was a primary reason not to illegally copy your software.

Doughs!! (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417483)

Duh, it's all about money. Companies and people are greedy! :(

Re:What happened? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417551)

I remember when it was commonplace to get a recovery disc along with your computer; now you have to pay (quite a bit) for software that's already on your system. What happened?

What has changed is they went from providing install disks (DOS and Windows 3.1) to Hard Driver image disks (Windows 98 SE and newer, to no recovery disks but a hidden recovery partition. Then the reliability of the hard drives bombed so the warrenties went from 3 years to 1 year for most hard drives. This made the recovery partition a poor choice as the recovery software died with the hard drive. The fear of providing an install disk is it might be used on other hardware. The solution is to let the user create a "recovery DVD or CD set that is tied tightly to the hardware. For the store technicians, burning a recovery disk from a server with images of the recovery disks is easy money and eliminates the huge amount of time an end user needs to make a DVD or CD. The dirty secret (with HP laptops anyway) is the ISO does not exist on the hard drive. You have to wait for it to be assembled and divided for DVD or CD burning. This pre-burn process takes quite a while and requires a couple user inputs so the process is more than stuff in a disk and hit GO.

What the article is stating is the retailers are charging to make these recovery DVD or CD images that you could have done for yourself for free.

I ran into this new form of backup/recovery with my wife's new HP/Vista laptop. We bought it at Costco so we didn't run into the pushy salesmen issue. The $150 off coupon was a nice bonus on top of the wholesale club price.

Re:What happened? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417569)

I remember when recovery discs were new. Before that, we actually got the OS installation media so we didn't have to wipe our drives just to reinstall the OS.

Old Dupe? (2, Interesting)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416747)

I think this was covered in the story a while back about the ex Circuit City employee who disclosed all their "secrets". It wasn't in the main story, but was in the linked story.

stupid people (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20416751)

One thing that slashdotters forget is with MS Windows, don't underestimate the stupidity of the average user. Most probably don't even know what a recovery disk is.

Re:stupid people (2, Insightful)

Urusai (865560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416769)

Cue apologists who think it's moral to screw over the stupid/uninformed because you can make a buck doing it.

Re:stupid people (0, Offtopic)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416839)

Haha, too late by two posts ;)

Apologists? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417017)

> Cue apologists who think it's moral to screw over the stupid/uninformed because you can make a buck doing it.

Apologists? Apologists are those who make a reasoned defense of something, not those who apologize for or excuse something.

You're thinking of Libertarians (the capital-L kind).

Re:stupid people (2)

Arctech (538041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417151)

The thing of it is, 95% of the people that get machines like this don't ever bother creating their restore disks on their own. Granted, it would be better if they did, better still if the OEM's would actually press you a restore disk for the OS you paid for, but unfortunately neither one of those things is likely to happen. Even if the customer ends up paying more on their bottom line for their puchase (hopefully not more than $20), at least they actually have a set of disks. What usually happens is they have nothing, and then when their hard drive dies (remember, not if, but when), they have nothing to restore their machine with, and they end up paying for the restore disks, the shipping costs, and their repair time is delayed by a couple of days at least.

Re:stupid people (3, Insightful)

bhalter80 (916317) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417187)

IANAA (apologist) but I don't see it as screwing over, in exchange for some of my time to perform for you a service you deem to have value you give me some of your cash in proportion to the value you perceive. The fact that you see no value in buying the disks because you are educated enough to make them for yourself and you have the time/interest to doesn't mean that everyone else is. One can easily change the oil in their car and I often encourage/train friends how to but I don't see places that offer to change it for you in exchange for a fee as ripping you off.

Depends on intent, I guess (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417367)

Depends on the intent, I guess.

1. If you intend to shaft someone, and feed them mis-information and FUD to that end, it's immoral, yeah.

2. On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with telling people that it's a damn good idea to have one recovery disk. And if you want the shop to do that for you, it will cost money, because their employees, time, space, etc, still cost money. It's providing a service, for a cost. It's how capitalism works.

Some shops will do #1, some shops will do #2, and some won't do it at all and deal with the fallout of the clients coming back with a thoroughly screwed up system and demanding it fixed for free because it's still under warranty.

In other words, the question is where you set the bar. _If_ for you anything other than doing unpaid charity work is "screwing over the stupid for a buck", you might have some unrealistic expectations. It's not how the economy works. If you're too stupid to do a task, or can't be arsed to learn how, or your time is too valuable to do it personally, you pay someone to do that service for you.

Heck, I'm too "stupid" to know all laws and precedents, so I pay a lawyer when I need that kind of knowledge. I'm too "stupid" to know all diseases and antibiotics/antivirals/etc, so I pay a doctor. Etc. Is it "screwing me over for a buck"? No, it's just providing a service for adequate remuneration.

Sure, the doctor could take the time and teach me medicine for free instead, but chances are it would be a waste of both my time and his anyway. Ditto for the lawyer.

I fail to see why the same wouldn't apply to a shop's techies. If you're too stupid to do your own recovery CD, and want someone else to do it for you, you pay for that service.

Again, I do draw the line at telling the customer lies to get them to pay for something they don't need. That's unethical. But offering a paid service, even an overpriced one? What's wrong with that?

I is stupid people (3, Informative)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417311)

> One thing that slashdotters forget is with MS Windows, don't underestimate the stupidity of the average user.
> Most probably don't even know what a recovery disk is.

I honestly had no idea what a "recovery disk" was until I just googled for it. I've been using computers for over 20 years, and have made a career as a software engineer for the last 12. I've always just had the full OS on disk. I guess that makes me stupid.

uninformed, maybe but not truly stupid (1)

justsomecomputerguy (545196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417543)

Uninformed is simply not knowing about something, that MAYBE you should know, maybe not.

STUPIDITY is not knowing about something when you really should have already made it your business to know about it and/or refusing to see something for what it is.

Say it ain't so (4, Funny)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416755)

Best Buy and Circuit City are pressuring customers to buy overpriced add ons they don't need? Hogwash!

Re:Say it ain't so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20416813)

you forgot your tag.

Re:Say it ain't so (1)

lmnfrs (829146) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417441)

No kidding. After hearing about all their usual "services" and that Consumerist story recently where Geeksquad collected personal files, this sort of thing isn't surprising. After learning a friend of mine had been promoted from a floor associate to the manager of the Geeksquad department at his store, and hearing about the kinds of things the "fucking idiots" pay them for.. I'm surprised they haven't been charging for recovery discs for longer.

extended warranty (4, Insightful)

Rixel (131146) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416775)

Pretty sure that anyone who knows how to make a recovery disk either won't get suckered in, or will purchase it just so they don't have to do it themselves.

The real retail rape is extended warranty.

Re:extended warranty (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416999)

The last desktop I bought at Best Buy, they were trying to peddle the recovery disk along with turning off unnecessary services so that the computer will run a lot faster. It was pretty expensive and I could see some people thinking it was really needed. And no, I didn't buy the service which didn't seem to make them real happy. For people not on commission they sure seem to have a stake in peddling some of this stuff.

Re:extended warranty (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417159)

they may not be on commission but there may be some performance metric they need to hit for reviews, rewards, etc. i don't know, just guessing.

Re:extended warranty (2, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417323)

I did a few stints at Comp USA, and the management at both stores harped on the extended plans really hard. The hardware guys were on commissions, but us software guys weren't. We had a 'performance reward' though if we managed to push those pieces of crap. They even wanted us to peddle crap warranties on mice, keyboards, speakers, and other crap that is so cheap, there was no reason to worry about a warranty in the first place.

Not that Comp USA was a great place for management. I had 1 manager who was skimming the drawers. 1 who was convicted of evading taxes. Another that was caught raiding the RTM cage. 1 who was arrested for some sort of under-age porn thing. 2 that were their store's primary pot dealer (oddly enough, 1 of them actually ran a pretty nice store!)

Ahh the memories.


Re:extended warranty (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417417)

Where you an underage pot smoker at the time ?

HEy at least you had a constant hook up for weed. Many would love to not have to leave their house to pick up, and he could have brought it to you ! Think of the money he saved you in gas alone !

Re:extended warranty (1)

n dot l (1099033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417497)

I worked at Staples during my first year of college. No commission. Also no peace if you don't sell an extended warranty on at least 25% of eligible products. Managers were absolutely horrible to anyone that didn't meet the goals. I usually met mine, mainly selling it on $60 mice and keyboards by telling people that if they bought the $5 warranty they could replace it in-store for free any time during the next 5 years, which was actually true back then (and isn't now). But still, it sucked balls to be the one guy that got yelled at because I happened to miss a target...

...Which is why I moved to the office furniture department, which management didn't give a damn about so nobody bothered me about not selling the "Furniture Protection Plan". That and so I could "test" the chairs every now and then.

Kinda reactionary... (2, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416783)

If they are lying to the customers, that is bad. But I would imagine most people do not know how to make a recovery CD, painfully easy as it may be. Also, it would be more convenient than contacting the manufacturer for one.

Re:Kinda reactionary... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417193)

"If they are lying to the customers, that is bad. But I would imagine most people do not know how to make a recovery CD, painfully easy as it may be. Also, it would be more convenient than contacting the manufacturer for one."

I'm inclined to agree. I'm not ready to wave my pitchfork at Best Buy or Circuit City over this, I'd rather have a go at the manufacturers that don't include these discs as standard operating procedure. Heck, I'm annoyed at Toshiba about it. I bought a TabletPC a few years ago. I love the machine, but part of being a 'tablet' at the time was that it didn't include an optical drive to make it slimmer. Okay. But they included a recovery DVD that's just a ghost image. Good, right? Nope. They encrypted it. It'll only decrypt if the tablet itself does the operation. Result? They think I need to buy their $250 external drive.

I've since gotten around the problem, but it still annoys me. Back in the good ol' days machines used to come with a Windows install disc. Not a recovery disc, but an actual install disc. If they had given me that, a reinstall wouldn't have been a problem.

Question... (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416785)

Do they scare you into this before or after they scare you into paying for their special warranty?

Are they really important? (3, Insightful)

Javi0084 (926402) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416797)

Don't PC makers include a recovery partition for Windows machines?

Re:Are they really important? (2, Informative)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417379)

Yeah but here is the flip side of that.

What happens if the drive gives up its magical go smoke ? How does one recover after that ?

I have had multiple customers come to me with HP's just out of warranty with HDD that failed. I had to order the dvd's for my customers and they were very unhappy about it. What I would do was get an oem install disc off the local piracy sites and just use the oem cd key off the side of the system and when the discs came in I would go deliver them their discs.

I hate that they don't give OS install cd's. Even though most people lose them :(

What?! (4, Funny)

Scutter (18425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416801)

A salesperson lying to a customer?! That's unpossible!

Re:What?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20416981)

Salespeople are great. Lots of fun. I can't tell you the number of times I've been looking for, just as an example, shoes, and I have 2 or 3 pairs of shoes that I'm interested in. Every single time without fail, the sales guy personally owns a pair of each of the shoes I'm interested in and they are all great shoes. It doesn't matter which store or what I'm looking for. This is always true.

No suprise (4, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416815)

And the sales associate at Fry's, while trying to sell me the extended warranty, said that warranty replacements on the Wii take forever and are expensive because you have to pay to ship to Japan.

He was flat-out lying, as warranties for North American Nintendo sales go through a center in California, and Nintendo pays for the shipping. But the Fry's employee (a department manager nonetheless) insisted that the shipping/replacement costs and delays were a reason to purchase their warranty instead.

Never underestimate the sleazy, underhanded attempts that a salesperson will go through to get your money, especially if they work on any kind of commission. As a corollary, the less knowledge and understanding the salesperson has about the product they are pushing, the more likely they are to be underhanded in their push.

Re:No suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417003)

Those of us such as myself who receive those commissions generally rely on them to make ends meet so you're damn right I'll do what it takes to sell those items. As one of those who actually has knowledge of the product I sell, I generally know what I'm talking about and don't bullshit the customer. I also own these extended warranties on every piece of equipment I have purchased from my place of employment including a laptop, printer, Palm handheld, and external hard drive, so I'm not pressuring anyone to buy something I don't use myself.

Re:No suprise (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417255)

I hope you're joking (or trolling). Have you ever sat down and done the math on those kinds of insurance? You are always losing money on those deals, since the expectation cost of equipment failure (probability of failure times cost of replacement) is much lower than the cost of the insurance. (If it wasn't, then the store would lose money on selling the insurance.)

To those of you still under the delusion that insurance on small-cost items is the same as insurance on high-cost items: it isn't. The reason it "makes sense" to get insurance on high-cost items (your house, your car, etc.) is that the replacement "cost" is not merely the price of the item, but the associated inconveniences (e.g. without a house it is hard to keep your job and keep making the money to buy a new house). Essentially, the "value" is non-linear: it's worth more to save it since losing it is worse than merely the dollar value.

When it comes to electronics, unless you are very poor, it's cheaper to simply buy a new one when it breaks, rather than to buy insurance for the item. In this case, the object's value is linearly related to its replacement cost.

So, basically, you should only get insurance on items that are so expensive that they are outside of the "linear range" of the cost-to-value plot. And, in addition to all I've just said, it's important to note that electronics devalue very quickly (as compared to property, which usually increases in value) that the replacement cost (for identical hardware) drops below the insurance cost in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Re:No suprise (1)

ls -la (937805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417365)

Best investment I ever made was $400 for an extra 2 years on my laptop's warranty. The original warranty was 1 year, no problems within that time. About 4 months later, the motherboard had to be replaced. 18 months after that, there was a memory problem (For which their solution was to replace the hard drive and motherboard...). Now that the extended warranty just ran out, I have a 4-month-old computer in a 3-year-old case.

Re:No suprise (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417435)

Good for you.

However, just because in this particular case you came out on top (replacement costs were higher than insurance costs) doesn't change the fact that, on average, you lose money when you buy small-scale insurance. If this were not true, statistically, then the insurance company would be losing money.

So, unless you know ahead of time that the thing you are buying is in some way defective, it's best not to get the insurance. This will lead, on average, to more money in your pocket at the end of the year.

But otherwise: winning once on a slot machine doesn't mean that the house doesn't win on average.

Re:No suprise (2, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417033)

And you didn't mention to him that this was attempted fraud, (while writing down his name)?


Re:No suprise (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417345)

I didn't know at the time while he was trying to sell it to me. I didn't want it regardless.

Re:No suprise (1)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417045)

said that warranty replacements on the Wii take forever and are expensive because you have to pay to ship to Japan.
He was flat-out lying...

Of course he was lying. The real reason those console warranties are so expensive is because of the widely publicized (guestimates of 25-33%) failure rates of Microsoft's Xbox 360. A number of stores, including GameStop, increased their silly third-party warranty prices for all game consoles. These stores obviously have dollar-signs spinning in their eyes, and floor-droids seem to be forced to make up horse manure rationales for the warranty price increases spilling across to the other brands.

Re:No suprise (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417383)

I don't think you understand, he was saying that if I didn't purchase Fry's warranty plan, then if something went wrong, I would have to personally pay for shipping the unit to Japan instead of just bringing it back to Fry's for a replacement. This was the brazen lie. Nintendo pays for consumer warranty shipping, and the warranty center is in California, not Japan.

What I find interesting about that . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417121)

Is that, correct me if I'm wrong, don't those extended warranties only kick in *after* the manufacturer's warranty expires? So if the Wii comes with a 2 year warranty, and you buy a 3 year extended warranty, for the first 2 years, if Nintendo *did* make you ship them to Japan, wouldn't you still have to do that?

So, the guy is trying to sell you the warranty based on the 'convenience' of using their warranty system instead. . . but if you bought it, they'd tell you it was still under mfr's warranty, and to go to hell, wouldn't they?

Re:What I find interesting about that . . . (2, Interesting)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417287)

Most of these in-store warranties are a substitute for your existing warranty, in that you just bring your console into the store, they replace it with one of their retail stock, and they (are supposed to) mark your old console as defective and return it to the vendor as a sales return. So, your turn-around time is a lot faster.

However, in today's era of Internet purchases, this usually partially/fully disconnects you with the stuff you bought on the console. For example, if you replace your 360 in Best Buy, you have to submit documentation to Microsoft detailing this exchange before they'll reimburse you for any purchases for your paid downloads.

Re:No suprise (1)

djw (3187) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417259)

Here's what you do next time a salesdroid won't stop pushing the extended warranty on an expensive item. Say this: "Oh, so you're telling me this product will probably break before I'm done with it? NEVER MIND THEN."

Then watch carefully for the look of total, helpless panic. It's totally worth it.

Re:No suprise (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417467)

Here's what you do next time a salesdroid won't stop pushing the extended warranty on an expensive item. Say this: "Oh, so you're telling me this product will probably break before I'm done with it? NEVER MIND THEN."

Most of these places don't do commissions, so it doesn't really effect them one way or another.

screw 'factory' recovery disks (5, Informative)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416851)

for the more tech savvy, i recommend making an image of a harddrive after the OS and whatever other programs have been installed. I did this for my mom's new computer; i reloaded XP (it came with vista home or something along those lines), installed all her favorite programs, set them up, did a virus/spyware scan, etc etc. after everything was said and done, i loaded Acronis True Image [] , made an image, and burned it to a boot-able DVD using their boot image.
So now, if there is some weird software glitch or she installed / uninstalled too much crap, i just tell her to back up all her personal documents, pop the dvd in, reboot the computer and voila. a few screens and clicks later, she's back to how it was when she first got it.
seriously, that little app has saved me so much work and time. (not a slashvertisement! i don't work for them, i swear!)

Re:screw 'factory' recovery disks (2, Informative)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417007)

Same here, but there is a nifty SystemRescueCd [] that can do all of that as well - while also being free as in beer (and probably free in other ways as well) Nice write-up on it with screen shots at

Re:screw 'factory' recovery disks (2, Informative)

dlapine (131282) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417229)

While I like SystemRescueCD a lot, and use it for almost every windows install now, you have to see the humor in a set of instructions (from the link, not the disk) that say:

Note: Before we begin, know that 1.) there is command line work ahead, and 2.) partitioning an existing hard drive is a risky undertaking that could go all kinds of wrong. Make sure your hard drive is well backed up before you begin.
when the point of the instructions is to help you make that first backup.

It's a better idea to use the systemrescuecd in combination with a usb drive, and have partimage write the image to the usb drive, rather than try to repartition the image on the first go.

Another caveat with any of these backup tools is that they may have issues with Vista, and it's changed format for the MBR [] . Make sure that any imaging tool backs up the MasterBootRecord as well.
As I haven't done any Vista saves restores yet, I can't talk about that. For XP and earlier I still find the old ghost 2003 app to be the best bet for restore disks.

Re:screw 'factory' recovery disks (2, Informative)

Eponymous Bastard (1143615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417353)

Just a suggestion: first partition the disk to add a d: drive and configure XP to put her documents there and keep the programs on the c: drive. Then when you reset the c: drive she won't lose all her documents.

It's less likely that a virus will stay (and be easily triggered) on the document folders, and it'll save you a lot of headaches the first time she forgets one file she wanted to keep.

Besides if the problem persists, you can back up, delete all files and do the reset again. This extra hassle is worth it compared to missing a file or two.

Re:screw 'factory' recovery disks (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417539)

While disk imaging is a very useful technique, you do miss out on updates. What I like to do is to create a custom XP install CD pre-tweaked the way I'd like with some of my programs set to quietly install on first boot. I don't actually burn the disk until I need it, and before I do so I slipstream in any service packs or updates. nLite actually makes this fairly easy. By slipstreaming I save time in installing, time in downloading, and disk space for updates. I don't take this as far as I could, but you should (in theory) be able to create an install CD that's essentially completely unattended and installs everything for you. Slightly slower and more complex than disk images, but if you partition a lot it's invaluable since you can install XP on whatever size partition you want without resizing and you're ready to go after it installs rather than wasting time downloading/installing numerous individual updates. You also don't risk accidentally getting malware on your disk image or freshly re-imaged machine. Note: I do this with an OEM version of XP so activation might be an issue for retail versions.

I used to work at Best Buy (1)

dbfruth (707400) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416853)

I worked at Best Buy 10 years ago in the computer service department. This was before the disaster that is Geek Squad. The sales people would tell you anything you wanted to hear in order to sell you something. They would says that the PSP (performance service plan) covered any problem including software. If people had taken time to read the brochure it clearly stated that it did not. So when the customer came in for service they expected to get their computer fixed for free and were told that it would cost them. Guess who got chewed out by Mr. pissed off customer. The techs did! I refuse to shop at Best Buy no matter how good the deals.

Re:I used to work at Best Buy (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417131)

What good deals?

On the other hand... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416863)

Given that the people who will buy these disks would almost certainly not make their own, let alone request one from the maker, the question is whether the store price is worth the difference between having and not having one. I'd say it is.

Re:On the other hand... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417485)

I think the issue is that they were lying about how much it would cost (or even how possible it was) to get it from some other source.

I agree with you that it's a worthwhile convenience, although 30 bucks seems a little steep to me. I'm not at all opposed to little timesaving addons like this being charged for though.

When I bought my PC parts from Fry's, one of the services they offered was to hook my CPU, heatsink, fan, motherboard, and RAM together to make sure it all worked together. Cost 12 bucks. I took them up on it not because I thought they wouldn't work, but because it meant Fry's would be seating the CPU and putting the heatsink on for me, which is usually the part of building a PC where you're most likely to break stuff.

What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (2, Interesting)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416865)

It's been awhile since I bought any computer equipment from a big box store, so excuse any ignorance, but don't the manufacturers include recovery CDs in the packaging?

Are the big box stores removing the manufacturer's CD from the packaging and either tossing it, or re-selling it? I can't imagine the latter would go over very well with the manufacturers.

Re:What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20416947)

Apple does.

Re:What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (2, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416969)

It's been awhile since I bought any computer equipment from a big box store, so excuse any ignorance, but don't the manufacturers include recovery CDs in the packaging?

Not necessarily. The T61 I bought from Lenovo came with a tool to create recovery disks which, I assume, are based off the recovery partition present on the hard disk. 6 CDs later, and I had a freshly minted set of disks which are now safely stored with the rest of the documentation for the laptop.

Re:What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417051)

1) I bet it cost more to make that recovery tool user friendly than it does just to ship the dang CDs with the system
2) Why is a new machine creating 6 CDs instead of one DVD?

Re:What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417091)

1) That cost is paid upfront, minus a bit of ongoing maintenance, as opposed to an ongoing cost for every single unit sold.
2) Because I didn't have any DVR-Rs on-hand, and I had a stack of spare CD-Rs lying around. :)

Re:What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417059)

I haven't seen recovery discs in a while, at least not at the "budget" level my clients seem to want to operate at. Its almost always a recovery partition + some lame utility that will burn 1-3 ISOs to CD for you.

The "good" news is the recovery partition is live and usable (ie, you don't need to make discs to use it), the bad news is that you're fscked if you don't and the HDD goes south.

Re:What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (1)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417071)

The last few pc's I've looked at didn't come with recovery CDs. Instead you are given instructions (somewhere in the packaging) which tells you how to burn your own recovery CDs (which pull the data from the recovery partition and I do believe the CD's are tied to your hardware specifically). Now if you your hard drive goes south before you get a chance to make those disks....

Oh and some will only let you make 1 set of recovery disks (which is ok since CD-R's last forever) /sarcasm

Re:What happened to the Manufacturer's disks? (1)

danomac (1032160) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417135)

My LG F1-Series laptop came with a recovery disk. Some of the cheap Acers we have at work didn't.

Odds are... (3, Insightful)

dashslotter (1093743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416931)

...if you are buying such a disk from them, then you probably don't know how to get one easier/cheaper, so I guess I don't see a problem here. Those with less knowledge in a given domain generally pay more, and are sometimes happy to do so out of convenience.

Not that big a deal (1)

Arctech (538041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416941)

Preface: If they're lying to the customer, saying things like "The manufacturer will charge you more" or "You can't do this without our help", then yes, that's bad and it shouldn't continue.

But it isn't as if it's a horrible thing to charge people to perform mundane tasks, even if they could do it themselves.
Changing the oil in one's car is an altogether trivial matter, but damn if I don't pull in to some quick lube station every 3,000 miles or so to pay someone else to do it. It's a matter of convenience.

dont remind me... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416955)

back when I used to actually use Windows, there was a critical problem that required a restore but a lot of the recovery files got corrupted, and you can't use any other disk to fix it either, they're tailored to your particular machine- and nto get another disk [a DVD that cost them 2$ at most to make] cost 27$$ and two weeks to ship from wherever the hell they keep their backups. then not only that but there is still trialware on the disks which is bs, you shouldnt get garbageware on a disk you rightfully paid for EVER. which to their credit pissed me off enough to use Linux to begin with and now I couldn't imagine wanting to go back to windows. thanks Circuit city for driving me away from Windows and indirectly helping the FOSS community with every person that isn't putting up with that garbage anymore.

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20416973)

And if you don't fall for that, they are on to selling you some monster cable.

In other news.. water is wet.

just as P.T. said... (1)

Topherbyte (747078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20416979)

There's a sucker born every minute...and two Circuit City employees to take 'em.

kids these days have it too easy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20416987)

I remember when win95 first came out. My company bought a new Dell or something, and it came with Win95 but no recovery disks. This machine had a pristine 1x or 4x or something CD READER, and a floppy port. I was one of two SW Developers at this company, so I took it upon myself to make recovery disks before corrupting the machine's harddrive with our development environment. The "make recovery media" utility asked for 30 pre-formatted floppy disks. It took me all day to make those things. Then I got yelled at by my boss for wasting a whole day doing nothing.

Re:kids these days have it too easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417427)

Win95 was what? 60 bucks retail? So even if you made say 10 an hour (8 * 10 80 dollars you cost the company)... Yes you did waste your companines time. And the ver you would have bought would have been on CD?... Do the math...

You should have called the manufacture and yelled at them. This would have taken about exactly 10 mins. MORE than likely it was not a real licence anyway (esp at the time MS required a set of disks or CD with 95 OEM licence).

A question they don't ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20416993)

It is a matter of faith that it costs ten times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer.

My question to the marketing department is as follows: Do you know how many people figure out that they've been lied to? My guess is that many of those people won't be back for years. To replace those customers you need to spend ten times as much in advertising as you would have if you'd kept them. How much do you pay per customer for advertising? Was lying really worth it?

When a retailer pisses me off badly enough, I make sure it costs them plenty. BTW, it is also a matter of faith that a pissed off customer will tell ten other people.

Re:A question they don't ask (1)

No2Gates (239823) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417031)

Having a computer without a restore disk is like driving a car with no spare tire.

Re:A question they don't ask (1)

dashslotter (1093743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417355)

Having another computer with an internet connection is like having a AAA card.

Re:A question they don't ask (1)

pavera (320634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417313)

well, the marketing department loves it. this strategy just means larger budgets for them!

You Think That's Bad? (1)

InvisibleSoul (882722) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417021)

Do you know what kind of prices Best Buy charges for basic hardware installations, like putting in a stick of RAM?!

I think it's in the order of $30 or so.

It's pretty difficult removing two case screws and pushing it into the DIMM.

I think it can be done in about 30 seconds, which translates to about $1 per second. That's $3600 per hour!

You're getting a bargain with the recovery discs!

Re:You Think That's Bad? (1)

ditoa (952847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417431)

I agree it is poor but it is no different to any other service roles such as mechanics or plumbers. My other once had to call out a plumber who charged her £40 to basically tighten a screw. It isn't moral but it is the real world. The computer industry is no worse IMHO.

lol (1)

holt0307 (1101971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417039)

I worked for geeksquad for 2 years before I finally realized that I was wasting my life away. The job was a hell hole, but the reasoning behind pushing the restore disc creation was sound. I'd say about 8/10 customers who purchase a pc from bestbuy have no idea what a restore disc is or believe the discs that come with current computers (usually vista upgrade discs, or even blank media) are the recovery discs. I've had countless occasions when a customer comes back with a failed hdd, gets it replaced under warranty, and then has to buy restore discs for $15-40 from the manufacturer. This in turn makes them pissed off at me for making them pay more money and wait even longer for the repair to be completed, then the customer says the good old line, "I'm never going to shop here again", and then demanding to speak to a manager, causing the 10-20 other people in line wait to get mad while they wait 20mins for the person to finish throwing their hissy fit.

So all in all, its more of a pre-emptive strategy than a sales strategy.

Re:lol (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417343)

Ah, welcome to the family. For extra money, I worked at Geek Squad over the holidays and it did suck. Compared to the prices charged, the salary was very meager. I especially hated the people coming in with spyware/virus problems because they were more ornary than others. I also don't think trying to sell the client on creating restore discs is a bad thing, especially when most of the consumers are either neophytes or relative novices. Charging 28 bucks is, however, outrageous.

CD's Not Included? (1)

Skafian (671879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417085)

It's been a long time since I bought a computer at a retail store, but don't they already come with a restore CD most of the time? Every computer I did buy had restore CD's included.

Re:CD's Not Included? (1)

holt0307 (1101971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417175)

only manufacturer that still provides restore discs and not partitions that best buy sells is toshiba laptops. and not every model.

Re:CD's Not Included? (1)

InvisibleSoul (882722) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417189)

Nope, most don't anymore.

You should get the full os install disks for free (2, Informative)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417099)

You should get the full os install disks for free you are paying for them and M$ should have them up for download as ISO images that need the key on the system.
I had to download a torrent of XP media center 2005 to run a repair install on a system that I was fixing for some one and they did not get a install disk / restore disk with there system.

Some recovery disks wipe out all of your data.

Yes, Best Buy just tried this with me (1)

greenmars (685118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417209)

I bought myself a very nice HP Pavilion, my first home computer with a dual core processor and I'm very happy with it. As I was leaving, the Geek Squad guys asked if I wanted them to make the recovery disks for me. I said, "How much?" I believe the price was $28. I said no thanks.

I got home, turned the computer on, and it did a bunch of self-setup, including asking me to put in several CD-Rs so it could make its own recovery disks. I did, labelled them the way the setup program told me to, and voila -- recovery disks. So there does seem to be some kind of scam going on here.

Best Buy Geek Squad Employees are Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417231)

This is a bunch of hogwash. First of all, even if your PC didn't come with a recovery disk, you can order one from the manufacturer for around $20. Gateway provides this service to their customers. Secondly, when I purchased my computer back in October of 2006 at Best Buy, the idiot Geek Squadder (what I call them, they are morons) asked me if I needed them to set it up for me, to make sure the PC was running right.

Well, little did he know, and I didn't give out any information, that I knew what I was doing. I've been building computers from the ground up for the past 20 years and knowing how to fix them. While I declined, I looked at my receipt and realized that I would've been charged for the service. I actually think that the FTC should charge them for acting deceitful when it comes to customers.

At any rate, even if you don't know how to create a restore disk, it is so easy just to call up the toll free customer service line for the manufacturer and they walk you through stpe by step. The folks at Gateway have always been helpful and they can even help you through live chat through their website ... and that service is free through the one year limited warranty.

I always say, do your research and know what you're looking for and don't go in to buy a computer with no knowledge. Because, Best Buy and Circuit City will always try to sell you services that you don't need. The 1 year year manufacturer warranty is all that's neccessary because if anything happens to your PC, it'll be within that year.

Job (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417237)

How do I get hired at one of these places, I'm tired of making peanuts.

And that is why (1)

Yurka (468420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417293)

you go to the store to look at the laptops, but then return home, get on the trusty ol' Internet and order it at the same store's site, from the comfort of your own chair, choosing the "pick up at the store" delivery option. The girl at the pick-up and service window will not try to foist anything upon you - she's not being paid for that. I was in and out in under 5 minutes with a new Toshiba in a factory-sealed box under my arm, and not 2 complete sentences said to me in the process.

An employee's perspective (4, Informative)

SKPhoton (683703) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417299)

Check out this blog post about 27 Confessions of a Former Circuit City Worker [] .

There's lots of insights about what the deal really is behind extended warranties, backup discs, and such. For example:

10. When buying a PC you will be asked to have a backup DVD made for a charge of $30. This is done through an application found on all computers, sometimes hidden. You could do it yourself for free. Also, it was very common to sell this on Toshiba laptops. Little do the customers know, it's already in the box. So we would charge, and do nothing.

Shouldn't be necessary, anyway (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417361)

The whole argument about _who_ should make restore discs is misconceived. *No-one* should have to make restore disks.

If a machine does not come with an operating system CD/DVD, then the buyer is being sold short. The most bizarre thing of all is that people still flock like sheep into these places and buy Windows machines after this -- and after so much more. You'd think they'd go and buy a Mac or at least if they must buy a Windows machine and support the whole corrupt Microsoft edifice, wipe off Windows and put Linux on there. Heck, Canonical will not only supply free Ubuntu CDs but pay the postage to ship them to you. But, no: people still herd into these places like a flock of sheep and buy whatever is put in front of them no matter how unfit for purpose.

Oh woe is me (1)

Enrique1218 (603187) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417387)

"Oh woe is me"

I got a PC and it is full of crapware

"Oh woe is me"

My computer is slow

"Oh woe is me"

I didn't get a intall CD

"Oh woe is me"

My computer is dead after one year. I have to go back and get me another one

"Oh woe is me"

Why don't just buy a from someone else

Because I like saying, "Oh woe is me"

These places are full of slimeballs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20417409)

After the recent birth of our son, my wife's parents bought us a digital camcorder so we could record the little spud doing his thing. I discovered that although the camera supports Firewire, it didn't come with a cable. I poked around online and saw that I could order such a cable for about $5 plus shipping. Not wanting to wait the several days it would take to get it, I drove to Circuit City to just "suck it up and buy one."

They were charging $35 for something I could get for $5 online. I thought for a bit, and realized that $30 was worth the extra few days I would have to wait, so I went ahead and bought it. But it still pissed me off.

I love checking out (4, Funny)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417457)

Every time I check out of one of these places -- which is not often at all -- I'm invariably offered some kind of extended warranty. When I initially refuse, the cashier usually says something like "You'd really be wise to buy it, these things break all the time."

I respond, "So what you're saying is, this product is a piece of shit and I shouldn't buy it. Check." The look on the cashier's face is always priceless. For a big-ticket item, it's also great to see the sales associate foaming at the mouth because the dumbshit cashier just tanked a sale.

And yeah, I walk right out without buying it. Half the time I never intended to anyway. Hours of amusement, kids!

Easy but time consuming (1)

proxima (165692) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417487)

When I bought my new HP laptop last October, the first thing I did (before loading Linux) was to create the recovery CDs. I didn't spring for the DVD burner, so the total number of disks I had to burn was 15. This was pre-Vista, a rather simple Windows XP install totally cluttered in stuff that HP loads on. This took at least an hour and was quite annoying. Though I wanted to load Linux, I still wanted to dual-boot Windows. The hard drive's recovery partition worked fine for that, but getting those backup disks was darned annoying.

Strangely enough, reloading the OS fixed a problem I was having with the touchpad's scroll area not working (despite telling the driver about the area), so the image in the restore partition must not have exactly matched that which shipped.

So if I had to go back and do it over, I might be willing to pay $10 or $20 to get a few known-good DVDs for my recovery partition. That'd save me an hour of my time and the potential for any one of the 15 CDs to become unreadable. The article says $30, which seems a bit steep (it took an hour, but I could work on other things while occasionally swapping disks).

Dell (1)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20417513)

With my 1505n, Dell included a standard Canonical "ship it" Ubuntu CD right along with the laptop, and it still has a very well done recovery setup on the hard drive.
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