If you download one, make sure it is for your Operating System.
For Windows 95, 98 and ME (you will need 1 blank floppy disk): click on the ‘start’ menu, go to ‘settings’, then click on ‘control panel’. Once in the control panel, click on ‘add/remove programs’. When the new window opens, click on the ‘startup disk’ tab, and last click on ‘create disk’.
For Windows 2000: http://www.microsoft...db_con_lurv.asp
For Windows XP : http://support.micro...kb;en-us;305595
Most boot disks contain minimal drivers and run a stripped down version of the DOS operating system or Linux.
Recovery environments are generally more complex, vary in size greatly, and can cause more harm if used improperly, however recovery environments generally have a more familiar look and feel to them. In most instances all you need is a boot disk and not a recovery environment.
Probably the best known recovery environments for windows systems are Microsoft Windows Pre-installation Environment (PE) (MSDN subscribers only), Bart's WinPE (freeware) and Winternals' ERD Commander (Payware, as in very expensive).
Probably the best known recovery environment for Linux systems is Knoppix. Knoppix CDs vary greatly in included software and in size (less than 20mb-greater than 700mb).
Edit: corrected an informational error regarding XP boot disks.
Edited by Trilobite, 04 August 2006 - 10:43 AM.