Q: WAYNE KLAWUHN USED the Darik’s Boot and Nuke utility (www.dban.org) to securely wipe his hard drive.
Unfortunately, the erasing procedure also wiped the tools necessary for reinstalling Windows.
A: EVERY COMPUTER THAT’S sold with Windows preinstalled must come with a tool for reinstalling the operating system. The most common approach puts the restoration tool on a specially designated partition on the hard drive. Some computers, particularly from small manufacturers, come instead with an OEM Windows DVD.
But what do you do if that partition has been lost—either through a hard-drive crash or user error? Or what if you’ve misplaced that DVD? If you purchased the PC from a major vendor, contact the vendor and ask if the company can provide a replacement.
Such copies usually come on a DVD or on a flash drive. I know for a fact that Dell, HP, and Lenovo offer this service. I don’t know what the other companies charge.
Another option that might work: See if you can borrow a Windows DVD from someone. It must be the exact version of Windows your PC had—for instance, Windows 7 Home Premium. It also must be a complete version of the operating system, not an upgrade disc.
After the installation, when it comes time to activate Windows, use the activation number on your PC. You should find it on a plate, probably mounted on the back of your desktop system or on the bottom of your laptop. Do not use the activation number printed on the package the disc came in. If you do, it will either fail or severely inconvenience the friend who lent you the disc.
If all of the above tactics fail, you may have to buy a whole new retail or OEM copy of Windows. Or switch to Linux.