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I've got a new Windows 8.1 Toshiba laptop for one of my daughters.

I'm trying to decide what the minimum backup I need to do is considering that it has no Windows CD nor Windows CD Key.

I don't care about the applications. I've only had a laptop "brick" once in about 7 laptops so far. I just want to be prepared for:

  1. Laptop bricks and I need to reinstall Windows
  2. Laptop is flaky and I need to Refresh. If I can boot to Windows it looks like I can do the Windows RE (Recovery) Refresh or Reset.

I read the Toshiba Users Guide but there's nothing about this. (Only using System Restore and backing up your data).

I do have System Restore USB backups for two other Windows 8.1 laptops but I'd rather not have to have a dedicated USB drive for that if it's not needed. (Extra cost but also keeping track of that drive).

closed as primarily opinion-based by CharlieRB, fixer1234, DavidPostill, Nifle, Kevin Panko Feb 19 '15 at 20:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I would create an image of the HDD. I also would download a Windows 8.1 .ISO so you can install Windows if its becomes corrupt. If you already WinRE media you don't need another one. The problem is if the laptop is being flaky its unlikely the Refresh or Reset feature will actually work in my personal experience. – Ramhound Feb 18 '15 at 16:42
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A disk image is always handy, and you can use something like Macrium Reflect Free to do this: http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

Alternatively, you can always do a clean install if you need to start fresh. This is the way I would go, as you won't end up with all the bloatware that comes on new laptops either.

You can get the Windows 8.1 installation media at any time here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media. After installing Windows, you can get the necessary drivers from the Toshiba website.

Paul Thurrott has a good write-up on doing a clean install: https://www.thurrott.com/windows/1003/clean-pc-download-windows-7-windows-8-1-setup-media-legally

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