HP customers furious over missing XP recovery disks

If you break it, buy another one...
Written by Sally Watson, Contributor

If you break it, buy another one...

Angry Hewlett-Packard customers have forced the computer manufacturer into a U-turn after it scrapped recovery disks for its latest range of Pavilion PCs. HP ditched the standard backup CDs in favour of installing Windows XP recovery files on a partition on the hard drive, prompting scores of users to complain. Customers posted irate messages on HP's technical support site and bombarded the manufacturer with phone calls demanding to be sent the disks. One customer wrote: "I really think that HP is putting out a raw deal when you buy their new XP systems and you don't get any recovery CDs. What happens if the warranty runs out and the hard drive physically dies?" Another Pavilion customer returned her machine in disgust. "One person from [HP] support said I would have to purchase a retail version of XP if my hard drive failed. Another said I could purchase a hard drive from HP with XP preinstalled, but could not tell me how much it would cost," she wrote. Customers complained that the move could jeopardise recovery following damage to the hard drive and would also prevent deliberate partitioning of the drive to add a second OS like Linux. According to HP's product description recovery CDs are included in the Pavilion package. But when silicon.com reader, Ian Rowe, contacted HP he was initially told that CDs for the model did not exist. An email from customer support told him: "HP recommends that you do not replace the hard disk as it is preloaded with Windows XP. The operating system will be lost if the hard disk is replaced. If you further wish to replace the hard disk, please purchase a retail version of Windows XP from your reseller and install it on the new hard drive." Rowe told silicon.com: "From the moment I bought the PC, to the current time, it is not mentioned that you will not be able to upgrade the hard disk in the PC. Certainly nothing in any agreement that states that I am not entitled to do so without purchasing a new copy of XP." Contrary to HP's advice, Microsoft claims that even if XP recovery files on the hard drive are damaged or lost, the company can use its authentication technology to identify legitimate users and replace the OS for free. Under pressure from angry customers, HP began sending out CDs in late December. But according to a spokeswoman for HP UK, recovery disks will only be provided for customers who complain and will still not be included with the original PC. "The recovery data is now stored on the hard drive, and you're not usually going to lose the hard drive if it crashes," she said. But this explanation is unlikely to pacify angry customers. "I bought HP because they stood for quality and getting a good piece of equipment for the value," one Pavilion user wrote on HP's message board. "When cutting corners like this starts affecting the morale and attitude of customers, then nobody wins." Have you had problems with HP? Or recovering Windows XP? Let us know by posting a reader comment below or emailing editorial@silicon.com
Editorial standards