I have often clean install HP/Compaq notebooks from scratch, using my own Windows CDs/DVDs, and downloading each driver from HP one by one. This is because when I go for the recovery CDs, they are not useable for whatever reasons: lousy media, scratches, mould, et cetera.
Lately, some HP/Compaq notebooks provide the option to create ISO images instead of writing directly to CDs/DVDs. With abundant cheap storage nowadays, you should always use this option. Make sure you back up the images on more than one disks. Burn them onto DVDs only when you need to recover a system.
I have just bought a refurbished Compaq 8710p with the original HP 3-year warranty from a HP reseller. When I tried to make a set of recovery DVDs, unfortunately it tells me a set has already created from the system. According to the Help info, this obstruction is because of the Windows Vista license and not the HP drivers.
What I actually need is the HP drivers and not the Vista DVD. Notwithstanding that the notebook comes with a Vista Business license, I am a Microsoft Empower subscriber and have my own legitimate Vista DVDs and licenses.
While I can understand that the protection intentions are noble, I find it odd that I am allowed to use the current version of Vista until my disk breaks down. After that, I am not allowed to use the Vista from the same license.
Searching around, I found a simple hack that allows me to make another set. Just look for the file HPCD.sys in the Recovery partition and/or %windir%\SMINST. Rename or delete it. That is all.