Hewlett-Packard, like many manufacturers, is saving money by not including Windows recovery or install DVDs with new machines. The customer is expected to spend a couple of hours when they first unpack the machine, and burn their own disks. Guess what? Most computer owners skip that step because they are eager to start using their machine and, hey, nothing will ever happen to my new machine, right?
To create a recovery disk set, go to the Recovery Manager – instructions are here http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01895783&lc=en&dlc=en&cc=us&os=4062&rule=42309&product=4030066&sw_lang=
If you have already burned one set of recovery disks and lost them, this won’t work because Recovery Manager limits you to one set only. Check these instructions for restting the counter: http://www.troublefixers.com/create-more-than-one-set-of-recovery-cd-on-hp-laptop-computer/
What if you can’t boot the machine all the way into Windows? Try hitting F11 after powering on the machine, to see if it will boot into Recovery Manager from the hidden recovery partition.
Or, configure a boot drive on a USB memory stick from the DOS prompt to boot into Recovery Console http://www.technixupdate.com/create-a-bootable-usb-drive-with-xp-recovery-console-with-usb-recovery-console/
Or you can order a Recovery disk set from HP http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00810334&lc=en&dlc=en&cc=us&product=4030066
If your machine is old enough to have a floppy disk, then you can create a bootable MS-DOS floppy http://www.ehow.com/how_2089400_create-msdos-boot-disk.html
But the moral of the story is – take the time to create the recovery disks when you first set up the machine, label them, and keep them in a safe place where you can find them when you need them. Some people glue an envelope to the outside of a desktop computer where the critical disks can be stored.