For many Windows problems, a clean install is the quickest solution. In case your hard disk fails completely and also you don't have a current backup image, it is the only solution. Accomplishing that task using the latest version of Windows 10 is easy, thanks to the Media Creation Tool and a pretty simple activation process. (For details, see How to set up, reinstall, upgrade and activate Windows 10.)
But after you've finished that clean install, you're left with the job of finding and updating any drivers and utility programs specific to that particular device.
The answer? Download a recovery image for your device from the OEM. That image is typically current and includes everything that you'd otherwise have to track down and install manually.
You're most likely to locate a recovery image when you're using a business PC (or high-end consumer device) from one from the top OEMs. Older devices, as well as low-priced consumer PCs, are less likely to qualify.
The optimum time to download a recovery image is when your PC is working properly. Produce a bootable device from that image, stash it inside a safe place, and you may return to work quickly in case of a serious hardware issue.
To use a recovery image, boot from the installation media, choose Troubleshoot in the Windows Recovery Environment, and then choose Get over A Drive. After a few initial prompts, the process is completely automatic.
Here's where to find the image you need from four major PC vendors. You will need an 8GB (or larger) Usb memory card and a serial number for the device you're working with:
Start only at that page: How to Download and Use the Dell OS Recovery Image in Microsoft Windows. Reading the instructions, download the Dell OS Recovery Tool (Windows only) and run it from a merchant account with administrative rights. Note that the Dell tool will also produce a recovery image for devices originally sold with older Windows versions or with Linux preinstalled.
For HP business PCs sold with Windows 10 Professional (64-bit) or Windows 7 Professional, you will employ a Windows desktop utility called the HP Cloud Recovery Download Tool. Check the listing of supported devices first; in case your model is supported, download and run the Cloud Recovery Client, go into the serial number and model number, and follow the instructions to produce a bootable flash drive containing the recovery image.
For HP consumer PCs (2018 or later only), make use of the HP Cloud Recovery Tool. This app is available from the Microsoft Store (the listing is here now) and is able to detecting the serial number automatically. If you are developing a recovery image for any device apart from the one you're working with, you can enter that information manually.
Lenovo offers digital downloads for Windows 10 THINK systems and elected Ideapad and Desktop systems. For older devices (2014 and then) which were originally sold with Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 10 Professional, Lenovo will ship bootable media within 4-5 business days (international ground service may take significantly longer). For detailed information, begin to see the Windows Recovery Media Systems Program.
If your system includes a Lenovo OneKey Recovery partition, you may be in a position to create a recovery image manually. For instructions, see How can I create Recovery Media, or order from Lenovo.
Recovery images for all Microsoft Surface products are available here: Download a recovery image for your Surface. Register having a Microsoft account, in case your system is registered with this account, or follow the links at the bottom of that page to enter one number and serial number.