This gets really confusing very quickly. The problem is that there are several different types of discs that do several types of things, and yet they can all be called emergency repair discs or rescue discs.
Let’s see how many I can think of.
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The repair or rescue disc created by your backup program
In your case and in mine, that’s Macrium Reflect, but this applies pretty much to all third party backup programs.
Yes, you should create this disc and save it in a safe place. This is the disc you would use to restore your entire system from a system image backup. Basically, you’ll end up booting from this disc. When you do so, it runs a version of your backup program and you can then copy the backup image back to your system drive – completely erasing whatever was on the system drive.
Now, all is not lost if you don’t have one, since typically you can actually use another machine and perhaps another installed copy of the backup program to create the repair/rescue disc when you need it.
Bottom line, though, is that a backup program’s repair disc is primarily for restoring an image backup to the machine, paticularly in cases when the machine won’t boot.
Windows itself can make a rescue or repair disc
Much like your backup program, this disc is what you would use to restore a backup image that you made if you had been using Windows’ own backup program.
Even if you don’t use Windows backup, this can still be a useful disc to have. It also includes actual repair tools that can be used by yourself or a technician to repair boot problems and perform other types of recovery. this might even include a system restore or a Windows backup image restore, for example, in those cases where your machine can’t boot normally.
As it turns out, if you have your Windows installation media, you already have this rescue disc.
When you boot from those install discs, it’s actually one of the options. You’ll see “Repair”, usually in the lower left hand corner. If you don’t have your Windows installation media then yes, it’s worth burning a copy of this as well. If you don’t have it when you need it, you may be able to use another machine running the exact same version of Windows to create one.
Rescue discs provided by the manufacturer
Sometimes machines come with rescue discs that are provided by the manufacturer, or there is sometimes manufacturer-specific software on the machine that will let you create them. Here there is really no standard as to what these discs contain or what they actually do. It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Occasionally, they’ll contain some hardware-specific diagnostic software, which can occasionally be helpful when your machine experiences a problem.
More commonly, the discs are simply used to reset the machine to factory condition. That typically means using information that’s been stored in a hidden partition on your machine that is then copied over the C drive. Once you do that, the machine is pretty much as it was the day it was shipped from the factory. Note that most of these discs do not have the ability to truly reinstall Windows. So they may not be of much help on another machine, or if the hard drive with that hidden partition has been replaced.
This can still be a useful disc to have. If your machine didn’t come with it, you probably want to make one also. If you don’t have one, and find that you need one, this can sometimes, though not always, be provided by the manufacturer. Again, it depends on who they are and their policies.
There are probably other rescue discs that I can’t think of right now, but those are the basic ones.
What would Leo do?
First, I keep any and all discs that come with my system. I expect and hope that you do the same. Without even knowing what they are or what’s on them, there’s simply no reason not to keep them in a safe place. They can come in handy from time to time.
However, in my case, I actually have yet to use any of them in the past ten or fifteen years. Most are still shrink-wrapped and stored somewhere in my basement.
As you know by now, I back up with Macrium Reflect and of course, I have the rescue media for that. If you do nothing else I would strongly recommend that you use an image backup program regularly and have the rescue media for it. There are very few problems that simply restoring to a recent image wouldn’t fix, even problems that may or may not be fixed by some of the other discs I’ve talked about.
And yes, I absolutely have used Macrium’s rescue disc from time to time. It truly is a lifesaver.