Ordering Recovery CDs

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Information on getting Recovery CDs from IBM.

The information on this page is unofficial. It is gathered from personal experiences. It is here to raise your chances of success when you give it a try yourself.

About Recovery CDs

Recovery CDs enable you to reproduce the original software state on your ThinkPad. Until the beginning of 2001 IBM delivered recovery CDs with the ThinkPads, but starting with the A30/T23/X22 models ThinkPads have a Predesktop Area, which's purpose is to make Recovery CDs obsolete. However, this is flawed logic, since you will lose both the installed OS AND the Predesktop Area upon failure of the hard drive. Also, if you buy a drive upgrade the Predesktop Area will not be on the new drive. Furthermore, spyware and viruses are lately being designed to infiltrate recovery partitions, so if you restore the system from such, you will restore the invading malware along with it. For the time being, Recovery CDs are available on request.

Recovery CDs are localized, meaning that there are specific versions for each language. The language you will get depends on the language of the OS that was shipped with your ThinkPad. There's usually no way to get CDs in a different language from IBM.

How to get them

Creating Recovery CDs from the preinstalled O/S

In some ThinkPads IBM supplies a utility to create the recovery CDs. You'll find a utility called "Create Recovery Discs" in the "ACCESS IBM" folder of the Start Menu. To create the Recovery discs, you'll need a CD/DVD writer and blank media. The Product Recovery discs set consist of one Rescue and Recovery disc (size of 1 CD-R) and one or more Product recovery discs (size of 1 DVD-R).

Others might want to read the appendix "Creating an image of the hard drive" in this document from IBM for instructions. It is also usefull when replacing the hard disk. If your Thinkpad does not have a floppy drive, you could try to create a FAT partition on the harddisk and copy the files "fwbackup.exe" and "fwrestor.exe" there.

From IBM

Should you fail to create a set of recovery discs before your harddrive fails, you may try to contact IBM service and request for a set. This can be done by eMail or phone. Support phone numbers Site has moved with the Change to Lenovo to [1]. Select there Purchase Recovery CD's. Then Select ThinkPad or Lenovo Notebook. You get the phone number list.

are available online. They are officially called Recovery CD service parts. If you actually get them, or not, seems to be more a personal decision of the service person dealing with you than following fixed rules. Also it seems to depend on your country (see below).

They will usually expect you to tell them a good reason for your request (see below). As with every service request, you'll also have to provide your model and serial number to verify the warranty state. The warranty for your ThinkPad is usually quite long though (3 years in my case), and you can check online if your warranty is still in force. The model number is also used to determine which CDs you will get.

Orders placed during the first month after purchase have proven to be the most successful. Note some people needed to pay a $45.00 fee, plus shipping and tax, for the CDs, regardless of when ordering them. Again, this seems to depend on the mood of the service rep that handles your case.

Note that Recovery CDs are only available for Windows XP Professional for the X24, as per the Customer Service Center in Atlanta, GA. All other operating systems (Windows 2000, 98SE, OS/2, etc...) are no longer available. XP Home was apparently never available for the X24.

Good reasons to tell

  • You replaced (or will be replacing) your hard drive.
  • You upgraded to Vista and now the 'Create Recovery Media' software only offers to make 'Rescue Media', not 'Recovery Discs'. The official guide does not make it clear to create Recovery Discs before upgrading/installing.
  • You installed Linux or some other OS and accidentally removed/destroyed the Predesktop Area. However, support may argue that installing an OS that corrupted the MBR is outside of the warranty, and thus the $45 surcharge still applies. Chances of receiving free recovery discs may be better by providing reasons other than this one.
  • You bought a machine in one country (e.g Germany) and need to convert the OS to use a different language (e.g. English).** this is a very bad reason to use, IBM will (or should) tell you that the machine is only supported with the language it is delivered, this is a license requirement between Microsoft / IBM.
  • Your computer was unable to run Windows XP and is temporarily running on Windows 2000 (or other O/S)
    • in Europe IBM have to provide recovery means due to EU consumer laws but willfull damage are not covered by warranty as per IBMs Terms and Condition of warranty now whether installing linux and thus deleting / formatting the hard drive is "willfull damage" is open to the service reps interpretation so there is possibility of slightly variation here therefore the best way to recieve recovery CDs is to claim no knowledge of the recovery process "pressing the (access IBM / Lenovo care) button but nothing happens it will not start windows can you send me some CDs so i can reinstall?" this will near always work.

What happens then

The time of delivery varies. In some cases its very fast (times from 16h to 3 days have been reported), on the other hand it has been reported that the time of delivery is very high, three weeks for example. The shipping can happen without prior confirmation of your request, so don't be worried if you hear nothing within this time.

A IBM/Lenovo customer requested a Z60M recovery disc set at 1:00pm Thursday afternoon with Atlanta,Ga Tech Center and shipped from Morrisville,NC with Airborne Express and hand delived to Valparaiso,IN address Monday morning 9:00am,that's was fast! and it was on a weekend. Also the IBM/Lenovo Rep give a software order number and a telephone number to call,if the package doesn't arrived in three business days.The package has 1 R&R Startup CD,1 R&R Supplemental CD and 6 Recovery CD. and IBM/Lenovo is picking up the cost.

A Dutch IBM customer reported next-day delivery of recovery CDs, on three different occasions. A customer in Belgium had to wait 8 days, so sometimes delivery is not that fast.

Apparently recovery CDs to the UK are now shipped from Hungary, with an estimated delivery of 8-9 days. Experience shows they tend to come a little sooner. It seems likely that this is now the source for all of Europe.

Country overview

Please put an entry for your country into this table if it's missing and you made a try to get the Recovery CDs.

CDs received in CDs were denied in
  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Australia (depends on the service rep & reason)
  • Brazil
  • Belgium
  • Canada (March 20, 2007, $49CDN + tax, T30 & T42)
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany (cost: 39,90 Euro (+VAT) if device is out of warranty), otherwise is free
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland (60 PLN +VAT (on warranty) via IBM Poland business partner)
  • Philippines (ordering requires Model & Serial #, nominal fee $25-40 depending on model), alternatively, they will re-image the hard drive for $22.
  • Slovakia (cost: nothing, 2 - 4 weeks for delivery)
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • UK
  • USA ($45 if out of warranty [in one case, at least])$45 in warranty as well [I'll question this line,"$45 in warranty as well"]IBM/Lenovo pickup the cost for My software while in warranty.
  • Turkey
  • Malaysia, will cost you RM226 for a set of 6 to 7 recovery CDs + delivery. Alternatively, you can drop by at IBM Plaza (check IBM Malaysia page for contact) and borrow the recovery CD from them. However, the recovery process must be done at there and then by yourself, and the CD cannot be brought out from the office. This alternative method is free of charge.
  • Israel, but received after calling IBM Europe
  • Australia, payment was requested ($82.50)
  • India, just a plain "not possible"
  • Russia, service reps claim that these CDs are not for end-users
  • UK, denied using first reason (must be an IBM HDD), received using second reason.
  • Hungary, service reps claim that these CDs are not for end-users
  • USA, after revealing the problem's cause to be an installation of Linux
  • Greece, service reps claim that these CDs are not for end-users.
  • Slovenia, service reps claim that these CDs are not for end-users.