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Not A Graceful Recovery For HP Customers 434

An alert reader named michael pointed out this article running at Infoworld on the policy instated by HP of supplying actual Windows XP backup media for their Pavilion only if owners really, really need them. While HP and other vendors have been moving to recovery partitions for a little while, it seems like HP customers have to jump through particular hoops to demonstrate they really need physical media, and aren't very happy about it. The article makes a good point too regarding the installation of Linux partitions. The banner ad on the page is for --guess what? -- Windows XP.
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Not A Graceful Recovery For HP Customers

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  • I love having my xp cd. I reinstall every few months at least (and now and again a few times in a week) and if I didn't get my cd with my computer I'd go nuts.
  • by jACL ( 75401 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @04:48PM (#3019273)
    Any large corporation builds a standard image and ghosts it down to workstations anyway. Most places don't want the end-user to get their hands on the original install media due to the support issues that arise.
  • by Starship Trooper ( 523907 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @04:50PM (#3019282) Homepage Journal
    The hardware companies are eager to cut corners wherever possible to save a buck in producing their increasingly shotty, slipshod products. In the end, the removal of recovery media in favour of "recovery partitions" conveniently eating away at the consumer's free hard drive space is just another way of putting more cash into the company's greedy coffers. This has nothing to do with Microsoft's licencing or Windows XP or anything like that.

    You can rest assured that, even if they were shipping Linux on these machines, they would probably still opt for providing as little actual installation media as they can get away with. Gateway has always tried to take advantage of consumer ignorance to push their below-average workmanship, which is why they're slowly slipping down the tubes. All the more reason to buy a decent system from Dell, or even better, Apple. You get what you pay for.

    • Wrong, linux isnt a vendor its an OS. Any vendor who wont chip in 10 cents on a install/recover OS CD, should go out of business. Just because the vendor is big, doesnt make them good. The smaller companies who do linux workstations give sets of cds, with lots of extra applications.

      I personally hope more consumers get burned by this. Until the average joe computer buyer discovers the heart aches we have to deal with, nothing will change. How many times have you heard, "Why are they picking on poor Microsoft, they are just doing business?"

      It is hard to be brave, when you're only a Very Small Animal. - Piglet, Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A. A. Milne

    • Your first paragraph is dead on, up until your concluding sentence, this DOES have something do do with MS licensing. When you pay for a machine you are paying for that Windows license, not HP in fact they are probably making a profit off of brokering the license between you and MS, you have a right to that disc.

    • This has nothing to do with Microsoft's licencing or Windows XP or anything like that.

      The claim made in the article reads:

      Providing customers with both the CDs and the disk-based recovery program is not an option though, as that would violate HP's agreements with Microsoft and other software partners.

      Granted - I find myself questioning how accurate this claim is. Is it HP officials going in to CYA mode? But at the same time, we've seen some odd things surface from the secret world of OEM licensing deals before.
  • Why not CD's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @04:53PM (#3019291)
    I don't see their problem with shipping half a dozen or more CDs. When I got my computer it came with 6 cds just for MS worksuite (none of which I use since I got staroffice;). Cds are much cheaper than hard drive space and i'd rather just have them give me a bunch of image files and rip the cds off that. I wonder if the recovery cds could be used to pirate windows XP, if so I suspect that is the real reason for their reluctance.
    • Makes upgrading your harddrive a bitch too. But then, your going to buy a new computer from the same vendor in 2 years right?

      Let's have some new cliches. - Samuel Goldwyn (1882 - 1974)
  • HP Bites (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Inthewire ( 521207 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @04:54PM (#3019299)
    This past November, my father's computer crashed with multiple hardware failures.
    We took it to Best Buy and spent two months going back and forth with them over the problems. They'd send it out for repair and it would come back broken.
    In January the decided to just give him another machine. They settled on a HP...can't remember the the shelf.
    I set it up for him, and booted it. And it hung. Tried everything I could think of. No good. I called tech support, and was told to restore the thing from the partition. No good.
    Next day, I went with him to the store to get it fixed. The desk techs tried to boot it, restore it, etc. No good.
    After an hour or two of futzing with it, they grabbed another one for him.
    Wiser now, he asked them to check it to be sure it ran.
    It didn't.

    Hours later, they had pulled the entire stock (4 of that model, + the one we had returned) and tried to run them. Nothing. Defective shipment? Who knows.

    They gave him a similar Compaq and sent us on our merry way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 16, 2002 @04:56PM (#3019306)
    "For many years, one of the primary reasons for support calls have been people who have lost their recovery CDs," says Bruce Greenwood, North American marketing manager for HP's Pavilion line.

    Absolute bullshit - i worked on the HP Pavilion support line (thru an outsourcer - for 3 years - the majority of calls were due to crappy inferior integrated hardware(onboard sound/shared video memory), dodgy OEM drivers, and general windows flakiness due to sub-standard componenets.
    For example, the 88xx series had major DVD playback issues - software decoder was a HP customised OEM'd piece of shit.
    Researching this issue, i got a 'warezed' copy of the decoder that was sold directly via the vendors web site - no problems...
    And the 31xx series (3 years ago)had a WD hard drive that was "guaranteed" to fail after 8 months of use. And would WD take them back? Would they fuck.... we had to let them fail, then replace them. Of course when the new hdd failed, you were SOL as they were outta warranty.
    And for the rumor that returned Pavilions were cannibalized for new and/or repaired Pavilions.....
  • Long overdue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:03PM (#3019340) Journal
    Unfortunately, I have a Packard Bell computer. It's the same old tune in this story, except with HP. I didn't get an original Windows 98 CD with my machine which really ticked me off, but fortunately I had access to a real Win98 CD so I didn't bother making a huge fuss.

    The first thing I did with my new computer, fortunately, was try out my new CD burner and burn the folder they had on there with all the Packard Bell drivers on it. I reformatted my machine (I hate default installs), then installed with an original Win98 CD. The drivers weren't there! So, I pulled out my trusty CDR which I'd just burned and found the drivers in there after some searching.

    To make a long story short, not providing the original CDs is hardly a solution for most customers. Many questions are left unanswered:

    - What if the hard disk crashes?
    - What if I decide to install another OS on my machine and then want to put back the OS which came with my system?
    - What if my partition table gets corrupted?
    - What if I want to configure the hard disk into a RAID?
    - If Windows really comes bundled with the computer, why don't I get the original retail CDs? Almost gives an illegal or unjust feel to the whole deal.

    Anyway, '98 is long gone on that computer and I'm happily running Linux on it today. I'll never buy from Packard Bell again (for the CD issue, and for the absolutely poor tech support), and the chance of my buying from HP is pretty slim as well, at least till they get this mess straightened out.

    Actually, I'm more of a Dell fan, but they've been getting under my skin, too. When configuring the options for your new computer (online store), you don't get to pick "I DO NOT want Windows or MS Office/Works bundled with this computer" as an option. I am forced to pay for something I probably won't use. This practice has got to stop. Hopefully the DOJ can give us a hand on that one.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:11PM (#3019368)
      "I have a Packard Bell computer"

      I would never admit that.

    • Your "what ifs" are answered simply by: your OEM doesn't want you doing anything with your computer that doesn't in some way involve software they put there. The reason is they don't support this third party software and thus make no money selling support contracts for it. PC manufacturers make their money from selling services to people, not hardware. If you buy hardware from them with no service contract (which in reality many people don't do) they would rather not have your business. This pertains to restore disks in that don't let you do a "fresh" install of an OS. Looking to the DOJ to try to put PC OEMs out of business is ridiculous. No matter what software they stick on their systems be in Linux or Windows they are not interested in just selling you cheap pre-assembled hardware. If this practice stops expect many hardware vendors to close their doors pretty quickly. You don't remove a profit point from products in a low margin market without screwing yourself over badly. If you just want hardware build a system yourself or buy a bare bones system from a local vendor (or any vendor selling bare bones systems).
    • by scumdamn ( 82357 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:52PM (#3019550)
      Actually, you won't buy another Packard Bell because they're out of business. NEC bought them and then killed the name. Packard Bell was always a joke but I have to admit, they made the best first computer possible. Everyone who bought a second computer knew exactly what they wanted:
      Anything as long as it's not a Packard Bell.
  • by tonhe ( 35552 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:05PM (#3019349)
    and I really dont like their policy on this topic at all.

    Yes, I do work for HP Pavilion support. I lost my job at a Linux based router company, moved, and took the first job I could find. anyway...

    HP's policy is that we included a copy, on a hidden partition with the computer, the specs state the fact, and so does an insert in the manual. The software (including hp learning adventure, which the recovery cds that are now available for purchase DO NOT include) would be 17 cds long (why the didnt use a dvd, i dont know). 7 of those cds are available now, and the only thign you have to do is call 208.323.2551 option 1 and give your info on the computer, get it registered and tell them that you deleted the recovery partition and need some recovery cds. They will charge tho though (which is the kicker) $9.95 for standard shipping (overnight is only 16) for the CDs.

    All in all it sucks.. and I know a lot of the customers hate the policy, but most of them dont mind paying for them because they did get a copy when they bought the computer, and most of the realize that they did agree to the license in the manual, and they did have 14 days to return the pc if they wernt happy.

    Please dont hate me because i work for hp, i dont like it any more than you do... *sighs*

    Anyone know of any good IT jobs in the lexington, KY area ?? Email me [mailto] if you do.
    • The reason you can only get them if you need them is, They dont have them..

      They're still imaging the CDs, they didnt actually start offering them until this january 18th. We just don't have enough CDs to send to everyone.

      I still dont agree with the charge for them. But all you have to do is call in and say you deleted the recovery partition.
    • The software would take up 17 CDs? Is there something I'm missing here? Windows XP takes up 1 CD. Then you have sound, video, DVD and other drivers, CDR/DVD software, video/photo editing, etc. That shouldn't take up more than 2 CDs.. so what are the other 14 CDs for? I don't know what 'HP Learning Adventure' is, but I am confident that it's evil in some way. You can leave that out..
    • I have a Compaq Presario. It comes with a recovery partition of about 1-2Gbs (can't remember... having a 6Gb hard drive meant I wiped it). It did save my life once =) Now I honestly wonder why this HP needs 10GB of recovery data. That's really mad unless it also contains the image portions for the pre=installed Microsft Encarta!

      Incidentally, my Compaq didn't come with a Win98 CD either although I do have the Win98 license in the form of a sticker stuck to the bottom of my laptop. I honestly didn't worry about the lack of Win98 CD since I never needed to upgrade drivers and in that one even when I *really* broke things, the recovery partition worked well.

      Now, one day, my HD died completetly and I had it replaced. Of course, now I ended up without OS. What did I do? Installed Mandrake Linux on it. Duh!
    • I wonder why they don't send them via usps media mail. I mail cd's that way all the time, and I seriously doubt it would cost half of that to mail them. Its rediculous that HP expects customers to pay for something that they should have received in the first place.
    • ...most of them dont mind paying for them because they did get a copy when they bought the computer, and most of the realize that they did agree to the license in the manual, and they did have 14 days to return the pc if they wernt happy.

      Ha ha, very funny. The "license" is not relevant to the discussion, since it is not a valid or binding document (much less ethical).

      If you want to call it a replacement media cost, then fine. $9.95 is quite reasonable for seven CDs (although, it must be asked, what the heck are you loading on to the machine that requires seven CDs worth of data?). And yes, HP should consider switching to DVD-ROM if they're really tossing around that much data.


  • HCF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:08PM (#3019360)
    If you're a vendor it makes sense not to package installation media along with your product. While two slashdotters shit themselves at the suggestion just now it is true. Selling a low margin product doesn't make you a whole lot of money thus you need to sell the extras like a support contract, you know the thing a saleman tries to forcibly ram up your ass? If you give a customer the ability to fix their computer qualms with little hassle you are asking to be put in operational red. There's a percentage of people who can fix a computer at least marginally, statistically people who don't know how to fix their computer know at least one person they can bother because their "printer got a virus and the power light doesn't come on anymore", the sort of people who inspire ever so funny Tech Support from Hell banter. These people often work for free or at least for much less than it costs to pay a "professional" (sic) to fix their problem. This ain't no good for suppliers of service contracts like OEMs. If Grandma decides the pie chart of her disk space has too much blue on it she is going to start hitting the delete key, nevermind she just deleted all the DLL files her favourite program needed to run. The purple wedge got bigger. If she can call up grandson/daughter to come over to fix her now useless program that comes up with twenty missing file errors who merely inserts an install disk and is done with the whole mess the OEMs just lost out on some lucrative nickel and diming. A recovery partition or special recovery disk can at least obfuscate things just enough to garner a couple extra support contracts from people. OEMs also want to get software back on systems they spent a pretty penny for to put there in the first place. This might be useless crap but they just want some eyeball time on it.
  • I'm still 17 and don't have enough money for my own computer yet (sniff). But, my problem with new compouters is all the pre-installed junk thats on them.

    Right now I'm running a 350MHz Compaq Presario. When I first got it, it had all sorts of pre-install crap-ola. Stuff like AOL, Prodigy, and a bunch of trial software I could care less about. And it didn't come with a OS cd, just a "recovery disk", so If I wanted to re-install the OS, I had to use the Recovery CD which would re-load the pre-installed software I worked hard to get rid of in the first place. Later on the disk mysteriously stopped working and my little brother got some virus on it that caused Windows not to work. I ended up borrowing a friend's OS CD he got with his computer and I've had no problems since then.

    When I get enough money for a new PC, I'm gonna ask to make sure it comes with an full-install OS CD.
  • does not need to go on a hard drive. Last time I looked you could stuff 4.7G or so of data on a single DVD ROM, and I suspect most new boxes could read that DVD!

    Oh wait, this is about saving the couple bucks it would take to include recovery disks. Most call centers cost the vendor a couple bucks every time you call. I understand a recovery disk that is tuned to the hardware from the store - not that a hardware junky like me cares for that, but whatever... the cost metrics will usually correct these issues.
  • Last year I spend several days to extract the drivers and utilities from the Sony Vaio CDs. Never do I want to get as angry as I got during this process.

    It was my understanding that we bought a machine INCLUDING an (albeith inferior) OS and a wild variety of software (we specifically needed the FireWire stuff). Well, apparently not so.

    The pre-installed Win2K was installed on two partitions using FAT32. It was impossible to get a clean single NTFS partition with the recovery CD's. They simply created the same C: & D: FAT32 partitions. I mean WTF?! Why do they think we ordered the Win2K version for an extra $150??

    Even better,- if you installed 2K from a full CD, allowing you to create an NTFS partition, the bundled Sony Viao utilities/programs wouldn't install anymore, claiming a corrupted configuration (and being so nice as to recommend to recover from the provided recovery CDs). So for example, the special utilities needed to get certain keys to work couldn't be installed. So here you bought a $4K piece of crap that you can't use the way you want it to.

    I finally hacked my way around it, but I ain't touching a Viao with a ten feet pole anymore.
    • Really, thats the same with all laptops. They all use some sort of recover CDs and/or hidden paritions. Just buy the laptop for the hardware, and get another copy of the OS. Your life will be much easier if you dont rely on the vendors installed image.

      BTW, the vario is a good laptop. One of the best out.

      USA Today has come out with a new survey - apparently, three out of every four people make up 75% of the population. - David Letterman
  • CRAP! That's right crap. I have not heard of anyone else doing this yet. XP has been out long enough that you'd think something would have been said if this was a Microsoft policy. No, this is something that the brain dead drones working for Carly Fiorina has thought up of. If this was the case HP, then how come I see all kinds of OEM CD's on pricewatch being sold ;).

    This is why I would probably buy from the Powerspec line of PC's at Micro Center. AFAIK, they have and will continue to ship standard OEM CD's and they don't have restore CD's to begin with either. I was also told by a sales guy at Micro Center when I bought my last whole PC that I could upgrade anything I wanted during the warantee period. I didn't end up doing that but when I decided to upgrade a bunch of stuff and move to a new case, they had used hotglue on the IDE cables right where they go into the drives. No big deal but it did kind of suprise me a little. Micro Center also seems to have some decent hardware in their new machines. Not the lastest stuff, but not econo 15 dollar graphics cards either. They models I saw in the paper included Geforce 2 MX based cards, and some even had TV out. Their whole packages and even their external devices and acessories are decently priced, but I find their build it yerself stuff seems to be a bit higher then it should be.
    • I didn't end up doing that but when I decided to upgrade a bunch of stuff and move to a new case, they had used hotglue on the IDE cables right where they go into the drives. No big deal but it did kind of suprise me a little.

      Gluing the IDE cables is pretty common really. When boxes get tossed about, they can come out. As a side note, it usually prevents the Vendor from returning defective drives when the customer RMA's a box. A (little) nod to the customer anyhow...
    • they had used hotglue on the IDE cables right where they go into the drives.

      And you're RECOMMENDING these guys??????
      • Yes. If I had seen hot glue spread all over the cable and on the mainboard, then I would be concerned. No, there was just a teeny spot of hot glue on each side or the connector where it inserts into the drive. In fact, it looked like they used a special tip on the hot glue gun because the spots were smaller then you'd think they be.

        In any case, I said yes I would reccomend them. They even included a manual for the mainboard they used. How many companies do that? Actually, there was documentation for every piece of hardware that came with the system, mainboard, zip drive, network card, dvd drive, modem, soundcard....documentation all there as well as standard OEM install CD's for all apps preinstalled on the machine. Granted, this could have change since I bought the machine, but I doubt it. In fact, I even mentioned Linux when I was buying it and he said oh yeah lots of folks are doing that....and really, the only few problems I had with Linux on this machine was the winmodem (lucent chip) and the soundcard (aureal and not their fault that aureal went out of business). Everything else pretty much worked. Sure, not as nice if you had built it yourself, (like what I have now) but nice all the same.
        • Actually, I did something similar when I bought mine from PC Club (Thousand Oaks, CA). I mentioned that I was going to install Linux, and asked them if they could do 2 20G partitions instead of a single 40. No problem. Only thing was, they had the OEM "recovery" Win2K CD. For $10, I upgraded to full standard media. Again, had docs for everything.
    • We own 5 of them now running Linux/OpenBSD. 1 is running NT 4 Terminal Server (testing it out for a project, looks like a failure).

      You get a Win98 or WinME recovery CD.

      Other than that, the hardware is relatively standard stuff. Good luck getting drivers, you need to figure out what each piece is, as the docs suck. Additionally, they stop "supporting" the model every few weeks when a faster processor comes out, and they don't put updated drivers.

      However, when I need a Linux/BSD box quickly, they work great. I'd never put a production system on them, but for development and toy testing, they are cheap and easy to come by.

      • Hmmm....they must have just recently changed this. I didn't say when I bought the machine ;). In any case, they do build decent machines. And, a recovery CD is better then none at all! ;) My bro in law worked for Winbook (I believe that's the laptop division of MEI, who owns Micro Center) a bit ago unitl they out sourced the whole thing. I am not sure what he's doing now, but it's an IT job of that I am certain. The recovery CD deal must have started around then.

        Um, on the finding out what stuff part, I think it's usually pretty easy to find that out especially since they use standard stuff. Right click on my computer and pick properties bud! ;) If that fails, then slide the case off (unless they started getting persnickty about that too). Also, I have noticed that they STILL had support stuff on their website (not support mind you, but docs) for my aged system I bought in 1998. The driver front, well, I am smart enough to figure out where to get that stuff and if the driver is decent, then it does not really need that latest tweak. Only way you should be running the latest driver is if you have a problem with the old one....least that's the process I am following now, for the most part. I don't have time to track every freaing driver on my system and if the old one works why screw with it. Same goes for kernels on Linux too.
  • If the recovery partition is WRITE PROTECTED. My mother in law's computer got hit with SirCam, and by the time she realised there was a problem (she's new to PCs) all of the system files on D: (the restore partition) were infected. She had to order the restore CD from the manufacturer (for the record, it was Compaq) for $10US.
    BYOB (buld your own box).
  • Readers who called HP to complain were told that XP was so big that half a dozen or more CDs would be required to deliver all the recovery files.

    So they are giving up 4 GB of diskspace for a recovery partition. I really wonder if the marketing material mentions that when they list the size of the harddisk.
  • IBM do it too... (Score:2, Informative)

    by mesagsx ( 413135 )
    Late last year, my company bought an high-end IBM workstation (dual CPU, PCI RAID, SCSI, 2 GB RAM etc...) to be a Windoze box (what a waste...).

    Guess what? It shipped to us pre-built, but with no recovery CD or Windoze media at all. IBM wouldn't even sell me one. They told me I had to go to M$ and
    buy direct.

    I don't geddit. Anyone know why this is? I mean, I can't believe that on a $10k machine, they'd try a save the single buck (or less) that the CD cost....
  • by M_Talon ( 135587 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:23PM (#3019424) Homepage
    Most systems ship with a CD-R now (and if you don't get one, that's just silliness anymore), so why not just burn the recovery partition to CDs?Voila, instant recovery disks. Me personally, all I want is the OS and any hardware-specific software on CD. Screw the rest of's mostly marketing crap anyway that just cruds up the drive. I hate these companies that want to tell me I need all their "go to this site, they paid us" links and software. Sell me a computer with an OS, and that's it. Can't do that, then you don't get my money.
    • "why not just burn the recovery partition to CDs?Voila, instant recovery disks."

      Hardly. Burning the recovery partition to CD-R, segmenting it god-knows-how onto 17 discs does not a bootable recovery disk make. For one thing, the recovery programs have no way of knowing which of the other 16 CDs the myriad files it needs are on, but that's just for starters.

      In short it's like segmenting your car with a chainsaw so you can fit it in your friends 17 cars, and wondering why it won't run when you turn the key in the chunk with the steering wheel.
      • You could do it with a tool like Drive Image, but it would be cheaper to just call up HP and convince them to sell you the restore CDs.
      • I understand what you're saying, but how about this:

        0) burn a bootable CD which includes the most basic OS the recovery tools can run on, and the tools themselves.

        1) burn the 17 CDs from the recovery partition (one would presumably have to unhide it first), keeping the directory structure intact (beyond that it doesn't matter which file is on which CD)

        2) When your system needs restoring, create a partition of the same size as the old "recovery" partition, boot up to DOS, and copy all those 17 CDs to the recovery partition. (Hope you have a fast CDROM! :)

        3) run whatever you'd do for a recovery.

        I'm sure there are details I don't know about, and some config files might need tweaking or whatever, but surely something like this could work? Would offer an alternative for people who HP won't provide media to, who won't pirate a real installable copy of the OS, and who don't feel they should have to pay for a 2nd copy at retail.

        I know people have done similar schemes to get around "recovery partition, no media" problems on similarly set up machines, back in the olden days when an installed OS would actually FIT on one or two CDs.

  • Step 1: Buy a Mac. (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:42PM (#3019492) Journal
    To solve the problem, buy a Mac.

    It comes pre-loaded with everything you need, and *gasp* Apple includes ALL the software on CD's!

    They include your standard "Click one icon to reload your whole disk back to its original configuration", AND standalone CD's of all the OS's and apps on the system! And gee, they don't seem to be going bankrupt from included $.60 worth of CD's.....

    Software Included []

    Everything is easier on a Mac. []

    (This from a Sun admin... who woulda thunk it.. Apple in the Unix business?)
    • by ywwg ( 20925 )
      so either you get a pc, where you can't reinstall windows, or you get a mac, where you can't touch the hardware. Or, just go to a local shop [] and get a quality machine with all the cds.
      • Can't touch the hardware? Eh?

        Macs have PCI slots.

        Macs have IDE support.

        Macs have places to put those memory chip thingies, and ports to plug in gadgets.

        OK, so you can't overclock a modern Mac without getting our your soldering iron -- but it's not like they are sealed systems.

        Hardware availability is an issue, I can't deny that... there aren't as many goodies, and there are a lot of $50 1-button mice for clueless Mac shoppers who don't understand the magic of USB. But it ain't as bad as "can't touch the hardware."
    • To solve the problem, buy a Mac.

      Look at the price of a HP Pavillion.
      Look at the price of a Mac.

      See my point? People that buy HP Pavillions won't buy a Mac.

      HP Pavillion Cheap, Mac Expensive.

      I know someone who got a HP Pavillion, it's been back about 5 times too.
      I think about everything that could break has broke down on the damn thing.

      You get what you pay for.
  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:43PM (#3019498)
    Anyone who buys a brand-name PC needs their head read and deserves everything (every problem) they get.

    I swore off buying "big name" PCs back in 1989 when I spent a huge amount of $ on an IBM PS/2 model 70. (20MHZ 386 CPU, 4MB RAM, 120MB HD)

    Within 11 months the PSU failed but was replaced under warranty.

    At 14 months the 120 MB HDD died (stiction) and IBM wanted an extortionate amount for one of their proprietory replacements. In the end I simply junked the PS/2 and, for less than they were going to charge me to replace the drive, I bought a no-name clone with twice the processing power, four times the memory and a 220MB HD.

    Then there was a friend of mine who bought a DEC laptop and ended up having to pay nearly ten times as much for RAM as I paid for the same amount of extra memory on my no-name clone laptop. And when his LCD display crapped out, they took eight weeks to fix it and wouldn't even give him a loaner!

    At the risk of generalizing, I have to say that a lot of the money you hand over when you buy a "big name" PC goes into advertising the brand and not into providing you with better quality or service.

    These days I buy good, reliable no-name clones and I know that they are:

    1. easily upgradable
    2. easily repaired with readily available parts
    3. great value for money
    4. compatible with just about every OS/app I try

    The shop I buy my machines from will even sell me a PC sans Windows -- and without bitching about it! But if I do buy a machine with Windows, I get a legit copy of the disk and certificate.

    Caveat emptor folks!
    • Sounds like my local white box shop. They are a ten minute drive (or less) from my work (and in the same parking lot as my wife's job:). If a machine goes down at work, I drop it off. If I need it back quick, I can get it DELIVERED by the end of the business day. No extra charge. They go the extra mile.

      They were hassled about license problems once, but I don't know why. My company has bought over 100 machines from them, and every one has the hologram thingy. (If memory serves, they got some bogus '95 licenses from their supplier, so they wound up with only a few grand in legal bills).

      But besides the convenience, there is one big factor in their favor: something breaks, a part is available to fix it. Everything is off the shelf, no custom BS. And by the time you figure S&H, the sales tax is a wash. Not to mention that I get certain perks available only to large HP, Dell, etc. customers: I can custom configure OS settings and so forth prior to delivery. Makes it much easier to install our apps and the latest service packs on a single machine before the drive is ghosted (and then the legit serial number is put in. Relax, I've got a massive box of WinNT CD's).

    • for laptops, which are increasingly important.

      In fact.. I only HAVE laptops.

      on that note..

      My Vaio z505le... I should have thought harder before buying this 18 months ago.

      It takes non-standard ram.
      BIOS will only boot of a particular brand of external pcmcia cdrom (not scsi, either).

      Thankfully my godlike powers let me rig up a convoluted process of partitioning, network booting, etc.

      Laptops.. I'm really starting to wonder. Some officemates just picked up the latest Toshiba Satellites. Wow. 2 grand...
      Beautiful display, dvd, smartmedia reader, SD, big hard drive, 512MB, firewire/usb/etc. The works, basically.
      All I could really want in a PC.. even being the PC nut that I am.
      ANd when I have to go travelling.. I can take my army of PC's with me.

  • Buy a Mac... (Score:2, Informative)

    by spacedx ( 458227 )
    It really is too bad I'm missing out on all this fun... my Apple PowerMac G4, iBook, and G4 iMac came with not only a set of recovery CDs to return the computer to its original factory-fresh state, but they also came with the actual retail copies on CD of both OS X and OS 9. These "retail" CDs will boot, allow you to partition, and install on any Mac, not just the one listed on the label. No other computer retailer comes close to this level of flexability.

    Restore to full "factory functionality," or start from scratch and customize with a brand spanking fresh retail copy of the OS? It's your choice... not the manufacturer's.

    Think about it.
  • Ha Ha (Score:2, Informative)

    by Drizzit ( 18580 )
    Apple provides with the Power Mac G4

    1 - OS 9.2.2 install for installing just OS 9.
    1 - OS X install for installing just OS X.
    the 4 restore CDs to make the computer like new.
    1 - applications cd with individual application installers for the third party bundles.
    plus two blank CD-Rs
  • Buy from Polywell Systems []. They provide the actual Windows disks, with their pretty holograms and paper-thin manual and all that.

    They also provide a floppy disk that you can use to recover your system to its as-shipped configuration. What they do is put a hidden file containing the original C drive image in the D drive. In my case it only takes 1.5 GB out of my drive, which is much better than taking 10+GB. They also give you instructions for creating additional C drive images using the ghost utility.

    Unfortunately, online ordering from them isn't the best, but still, for what you get, it's probably worth the annoyance.

    BTW: If you want Linux, or even Solaris (!), they do that too.
  • One of the justifications HP gave for their policy is that the stack of disks would be too big. This just points up a broader issue, which is the unreasonable amount of time it takes to maintain a PC. Most PC users (not most Slashdotters :-) do not want to spend many hours a week maintaining their PC.

    One of the reasons it's getting to be such a hassle to maintain a PC is that the capacity of hard disks has greatly outstripped the capacity of affordable backup media. I'm finally getting a DVD burner, but even so, the cost of the media is going to keep me from making backups of my whole system more than once in a blue moon.

    Since I'm using a fairly new and buggy os (Mac OS X), I've ended up having to clean install my system several times. Even though I had install disks, it was an all-day project each time, and that was a day during which I couldn't get any work done on my computer. But now manufacturers are going to expect us to stop working for a week while we wait for install disks???? Argh...

    Maybe the future lies with automatic overnight internet backup services. Every night your machine would dial up the modem, and do an incremental backup onto a server. This month's Scientific American has an interesting article about this kind of internet-wide distributed computing/storage application. They suggest that backup services could be offered in return for the use of your CPU cycles overnight, for projects like SETI@home.

  • My brother had a Compaq laptop which started to have hard drive problems. After a complete reformat, we found that the "Recovery CD" would not recover, and was spitting out random error messages.

    A support call into Compaq told us that the recovery CD supplied with the laptop did not have all the information. It relied on a secondary partition (which is visable, virus infectable, etc.) in order to complete a restore.

    Fortunately, they were willing to send out a two-CD repair set. A week later and several hours worth of things installing/backing up in seemingly the most awkward way possible, my brother's system was working again.

    And while doing some support tech work, I did indeed setup some IBM computers that came with no visable restore functionality at all.

    (Aren't cost cutting measures grand?)

  • by markj02 ( 544487 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @06:04PM (#3019595)
    Your best bet for recovery is to image the drive yourself, over Ethernet, to some other disk. If you gzip it, it usually won't be that bad. That has worked better for me than even the recovery CDs, which usually are laborious and nosy.

    How do you do this? Well, here is what has worked for me in th epast. Boot from a Linux recovery CD, NFS mount a remote directory, and use something like: "gzip /nfs/hp-backup-hda.gz".

    Or, you can do it partition by partition with something like "dd if=/dev/hda of=/nfs/hp-partition-info bs=1024 count=100", then "gzip /nfs/hp-backup-hda1.gz", etc. To restore, first restore the partition info, then the individual partitions.

    I haven't found a bootable CD with USB support yet, but once that comes out, you can also image to a USB disk. There are lots of really cheap and small USB disks out there now that you can use for this kind of backup.

    (Use this at your own risk and understand what you are doing. If it doesn't work for you, well, too bad.)

    • Oops, HTML ate my redirections. They are important... (when will /. get quoting for source code?).

      Whole disk:

      • gzip < /dev/hda > /nfs/hp-backup-hda.gz

      Partition by partition:

      • partition info: dd if=/dev/hda of=/nfs/hp-partition-info bs=1024 count=100
      • first partition: gzip < /dev/hda1 > /nfs/hp-backup-hda1.gz
      • second partition: (you figure it out)

      If you can't figure out how to restore it, you probably shouldn't be using this method, and you use it at your own risk anyway. There are also commercial disk imagers that work over the network that you can use.

  • How about the EULA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jgerman ( 106518 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @07:02PM (#3019777)
    I buy an HP, HP techs (and I use the term loosely) agreed to the click thorough license, (legally binding in MD). I never agreed to it, I never saw it. So I now have a copy of Windows which I can do whatever I want with. Somehow I doubt I could get away with cpying it and re-distibuting it, but now legally even with UCITA, I can reverse engineer it or whatever.
    • First thing: did you request a different software package when you bought it? Probably not.

      Anyway, did you assign agency to the HP tech? Almost definately not. They SOLD you a device. They did not license it. If the HP tech agreed to the license, that is their problem, not yours.

      As far as MD goes, fuck 'em in the ass. Quite honestly, I'm so freakin' bored, I wouldn't mind testing out the legality of the UCITA. Goddamn assholes. We're getting ripped like this with that prick Glendenning in Annapolis, I can't even imagine how bad things would be with the Republicans there.

      Anyway, I doubt that the license is binding on you. Just the tech.

  • by Mikesch ( 31341 )
    This just ups my already pathological hatred of HP.

    I borrowed my parent's digital camera last week to take a few pictures, I didn't have the driver CD and I'm using windows xp, so required drivers aren't on that cd anyway. I go to HP's site and it proceeds to give me instructions on ordering a CD from them for replacement drivers. As near as I can figure, digital camera drivers are analogous to scanner drivers and should be about 2 megs at most, TWAIN crap and all. As long as I have photoshop I have no need for whatever crap they shovel onto the CD. I would have been a happy camper if I could have just taken the 30 seconds to download the drivers. Instead I am supposed to jump through hoops and shell out for a CD for software for a piece of hardware I already own.

    Earlier in the week, I was at work, dealing with one of their combination printer/fax/copier machines, the laserjet 3100. I couldn't find the driver cd initially, and didn't care to try to install standard postscript drivers since they usually don't work on lower end printers anyway. I try to download the drivers off of their website, once again, I'm instructed to order a CD. For something as simple as printer drivers. 30 seconds of my time turned into 30 minutes as I had to hunt down the driver CD in the woman's office and get the drivers installed.

    As a result I sent a nastygram to HP asking why drivers for some of their more obscure products (anything not supported by built in windows drivers anyway) aren't available on their site. The response I got basically amounted to "you need to order a CD because we don't have the drivers up, so you need to order a CD and you can find the instructions for ordering a CD on our site."

    Last week we also had a 2 month old laserjet 4100N fail with a "fuser error", a 1200 die with a "printer tray mispick" error, the 8100s seem to have a massive issue where the third tray jams constantly. and our 8500C(or 8550, forget which) was slower than all hell. HPs tech support gave us a song and dance about how the engine speed only related to multiple copies of the same page... blah blah blah. They finally got a marketroid in there to say that it wasn't right, he called tech support and we spent half a day working on this crap, only to use older drivers that let it work at a reasonable speed.

    Last week I had to set up another printer in another department, using one of their external JetDirect print servers. Apparently the things do not like it if you dont have a DHCP server. When setting them up manually, for some stupid reason they will only take one change to their network settings at a time. Change ip address, ok, go back in, change subnet mask, ok, go back in, change gateway, ok...

    Don't even get me started about the inkjets.

    So, yeah, long story short I'm sick of HP and will do anything to avoid buying/touching them in the future. Their tech support is lousy and flat out lies, they won't give proper driver support for their lousy products, and their products are shoddy to begin with.

    They are truly an evil company who is going to take Compaq down with them, not that compaq was that spectacular to begin with.
  • This is a horrible practice that big PC mfgs have been doing for YEARS. Compaq and HP seem to be some of the biggest offenders in my years as a PC tech.

    Heres the situation. They give you one or more of the following.

    - recovery partition and NO CDS (not even windows)
    - CDs for OEM software and a Recovery CD. Now, the recovery CD would be all well and good, but, they usually have NO repair/reinstall on a different partition option. So you HAVE to format your HD to use this CD (who the HELL thought of this, i want to maim them).

    Basically, either way your screwed. If you lose a windows system file to corruption (this seems to happen WAY too often), most of these poor customers end up reformatting their HD. And with a 'recovery partition', your still ****** most of the time .

    The point is, do the increase of tech support calls and returns make up for the short sited cost savings on not putting in CDs of the system and all the OEM software you were supposedly getting (you dont really 'have' it unless you have a way to install it IMHO). No.

    And for the record, when you buy an apple machine, you get restore Cd's, and you can count on their usefullness. It only takes a few CDs, but EVERYONE who has a mac has them. It helps in tech support SO much to know that everyone has at LEAST the base on CD. You get the OS, basic utilities, and Apple software. It should be a standard in the PC world, not an exception.
  • I own a relatively small computer shop, and have to deal with repairing all the Compaq/HP machines sold by the nearby retail chains. By far the biggest problem I have is not coming up with the original media (I have a large collection of original disks), but with obtaining drivers for proprietary hardware. Some companies (Can you scream COMPAQ loudly here please) NEVER have all the drivers for a particular system easily downloadable. If the drivers haven't changed from the versions on the restore disk - good luck finding them. Granted I can eventually find most drivers somewhere given enough quality time with google, but why should we have to. It makes no sense for the company not to keep updated drivers available for customers - unless you consider that doing so is yet another way to force consumers to use restore disks/partitions. Companies like HP and Compaq do not want you to have an upgradable system, they want you to be forced to buy a new computer every few years to stay current. Can you find W2k drivers for that 2 year old compaq notebook? Hard drive upgrade options - anyone remember when Compaq was putting the BIOS configuration utility on the hard drives - the system wouldn't even boot without the original drive.

    ON a related note Microsoft also encourages the practice of restore media, over the original disks. As a member of the OEM system builder program I have received requests to not include the original CD when selling an OEM Windows version on new systems.

    Any companies selling computer at either Wal-Mart or Radio Shack have since stopped selling computers. The Wal-mart/Radio Shack kiss of death. Good riddance I say. Fare well proprietary Compaq, farewell sub-standard HP!

  • Tech support people rely on those recovery CDs all the time. They're the solution to every problem. If your computer comes with one, it means that when you call tech support, no matter what your problem is, you'll be told to use your recovery CD. I called Compaq tech support with a very minor sound card problem after installing DirectX 5.0 on it (this was several years ago, when I would actually call tech support) and the lady on the other end says immediately, "Oh, we don't support DirectX, you'll have to use the recovery CD to get your system working again." So I hung up, dug around some more, and found a checkbox buried somewhere in the Control Panel that fixed the sound problem.
    Later I had to help a neighbor with her 95 system (I forget what kind it was), after she had some completely trivial problem with her screen resolution or wallpaper or something. She was told by tech support to use her recovery CD, which was really old by then. I had to talk her over the phone through getting a new browser from Netscape's FTP site using ftp through a DOS command prompt window. That sucked.
    If HP's new recovery partition were burnable to CD-R, then this would be a win-win situation for everybody. Burn the CD, then when you call tech support, just say you don't have one because they never gave you one! If the easiest way to get you off the phone is no longer the recovery CD, they'll actually have to use their brains to help you out, or at least transfer you to someone who has any brains at all.
    Unfortunately they've effectively prevented this by bloating the recovery partition with 4 GB of crap. You can't tell me that's all code. At least 99% of it has to be ads and bitmaps.
  • Sorry but anyone that even remotely thinks they are a computer user would NEVER buy an HP or anything pre-manufacturered. The first thing you learn is that DELL,HP,compaq,Gateway,whatever all use the crappiest components possible. They only way to get perfoemance and quality is to get it at your local computer shop, Just like a car. yeah you can buy a grand-am from the dealer, but the local performance shop can make you a car that will make even the latest corvette look like a joke.

    Yes, you pay more, but you get far more in return.

    This would only suprise someone that hasn't a clue... as all us seasoned pro's knew this for the past 3 years... and ALL the companies do it.
  • I can see this happening, and I'm not 100% against this. Of course a minimal set of recovery disks would be nice. The problem is with pre-loaded software. You shouldn't have boxes and manuals, but you are getting [buying] a license which you can't even use.

    There are problems when you start to pre-load software. I bought a HP PC which came with a recovery CD. After using the PC for a few months I 'recovered' it a few times. It was an open-box buy, and I think the previous owner returned it because of a virus. Fixed that, recovered and broke it again over and over. All the times my fault.

    But later on down the road I started to install other OS's and even different Windows versions. The problem was while I was under warrantee I couldn't select which software I wanted to restore. Basically I had Windows which I couldn't install, McAfee AV... couldn't install, numerous apps which I couldn't install.

    So, they need to have a better recovery system. Take hint from the on-line install options made available from linux vendors[install via FTP today?]. Do something to ensure that users [lamers] can re-install the base and licensed software.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie