Previously, I mentioned that I had lost a hard drive, and the importance of backing up files.
If you're running a Windows 7 system, go do yourself a favor and turn on Windows Backup to an external CIFS server. I'll wait.
Everybody backing up regularly now? Good.
Yesterday, I finally threw a new hard drive in my dead system and flipped the switch again. As expected, the system complained that the hard drive was unbootable, and I started rooting around for my Windows 7 disc.
Rather than installing, there's a Repair your computer link. Tell it you want to restore a system image, let it connect to the network, select your system image, and go grab a book. This took me about 40min over a 100Mbit link, so it was comparable timewise to a full install.
That's it. The system will reboot automagically, at which point you probably want to pull out the disc.
That's it; log in and run Windows Update a few times and you're back in business.