nk497 writes "The chances of finding a recovery disc at the bottom of a PC box is getting slimmer, as vendors instead take the cheaper option of installing recovery software on a hard disk partition, leaving the buyer with no physical copy of the operating system they paid for if (or when) the hard disk fails. Users can burn a backup disc, but many aren't as diligent as they should be. While some PC vendors will offer a free or cheap disc at the time of purchase, buying one — or even tracking one down — after the fact can be expensive and take weeks to arrive. 'I've had a lot of people that have had this problem,' said David Smith, director of independent maintenance company Help With Your PC. 'One customer recently found his hard drive had gone, but by the time he'd paid £50 for the recovery disc, paid for a new hard drive and paid for the labour of installing the device, it made more sense to buy a new machine.'"