Having recently experienced (yet another) hard drive crash, this time on my Gateway notebook, I purchased a replacement drive and popped it in. Gateway (now Acer) doesn't provide recovery disks with their PCs, but does offer an e-recovery option, either using a recovery disk that the user creates (I didn't), or as a download from their support site. However, they no longer provide an e-recovery download option for my notebook.
Giving it some thought, and with some guidance from Ned, I opted to install Ubuntu (Linux) on the new drive as an alternative to Windows. This also scratches a long-time itch to get away from the boys in Redmond, WA. Ubuntu installed flawlessly, but the Ubuntu user experience is a little different from Windows, and I'm getting used to it. Some of the Linux versions of applications also act a little differently from their Windows equivalents, but that's just another learning/adaptation curve.
Meanwhile, all my data is stored on an external HDD with continuous backup to another external drive, so I merely needed to grab the Linux versions of all the applications.
One of many apps I've installed under Ubuntu is Firefox, but I can't figure out how to import my old bookmarks. I have copies of my bookmarks, but can't seem to find where to put them in Ubuntu. Any suggestions?
BTW in case anyone is wondering, I also have 3 desktops and a netbook here, so there was no interruption in my "forum admin time".