Ok, first up, screw all you PC and laptop manufacturers who refuse to supply Windows re-installation media.
Putting the OS backup in a recovery partition on the hard drive is a waste of disk space (20GB or so) and completely useless to the poor user when that hard drive fails (which is the most likely component in the whole system to fail).
Including a Windows installer DVD would save thousands of hours of misery to your users when their hard drives fail and they can't re-install Windows on a replacement drive. Instead they spend hours on the phone to call centres or give the problem to their local PC fixing guy (me).
Here is what I've discovered so far in trying to fix a HP Pavilion laptop (Windows 7 Home Premium 64) with a failed hard drive.
Step 1) Remove the hard drive from the laptop and put in the freezer for 24 hours. This trick works because the metal contracts in the cold and can free stuck components in the disk. You must work quickly to get the data off the failed disk as once the hard drive is running it will start heating up and will fail again.
Step 2) Put a replacement hard drive in the laptop and connect the old (frozen) hard drive using a Sharkoon 2.5" USB-to-SATA adapter
Step 3) Put GParted on a USB stick and use it to copy the recovery partition onto the new hard drive.
To be continued.