Recovering from Recovery CDs
Information about the recovery process using IBM provided recovery CDs.
Coverage of this approach
If you install from a Recovery CD, you should get all your drivers and pre-installed software back.
Things to be aware of
Obtaining Recovery CDs
How does the recovery process deal with existing partition layouts?
Recovery deletes the first partition and then installs to the first block of contiguous free space (which could be bigger than the original first partition if there was free space after it). Later partitions are safe. The partition must be at least 8GB or so or else the recovery will either fail or produce a corrupt Windows installation. You can save a little space if you intervene during some of the IBM software installs, reduce the swap size and disable hibernation, but you have to time this carefully.
Possible Causes of Failure During Recovery
The Recovery CDs (shipped from IBM) are a set of up to 8 CDs, one of which is bootable and takes you into an interface almost identical to the predesktop area. It is possible that when you click "Restore From Factory Contents" (which will actually restore from the other seven CDs), before it begins writing to the hard drive, it may give you an error message that says something like "Restore failed to initialize" and refuse to go further. In my case, completely wiping the hard drive (by booting from a Linux LiveCD and using gnu scrub) fixed the problem. The Restore was able to begin without further problems. Pre-restore, my preboot partition and the whole partition table were likey messed up, which may have been what caused the error.
A common problem during recovery *using CD's* is that if the recovery has been started by pressing f12 and choosing the "Boot from CD" the recovery starts fine and it will until the 2nd restart of the machine at which point it hangs / gives error messages of missing files or "unable to initialise" and following recovery attempts will fail with the "unable to initialize" error.
What happens is that pressing the F12 causes the Boot record to become corrupt, the recovery should -ALLWAYS- be started by changing the boot order in the "startup sequence" of the bios leaving the CDD as the top boot device will ensure a correct recovery. failing to do this and thus having a corrupt boot record requires the MBR (Master boot record) to be deleted before running a recovery will work.