Using Windows disc to recover would be good except for missing all the drivers and any programs that came with the PC.
I chose to show hidden files and folders and the recovery drive was still not shown. Every other computer I own shows the D drive next to the C drive.
I'm not worried about recovery files from a bad hard drive but rather someone else gaining access to them if I return it to a store or the manufacturer. What's stopping them from looking at it or using a program to gain access to the files. I'm puzzled how all of these people on amazon are returning their hdds.
Not to sound rude, but most of the stuff they ship with PCs is bullshit anyways. There's maybe only one or two vendor supplied applications I've ever reinstalled, and no client has ever complained or noticed.
Windows 7, by default, will have most of the drivers for the PC including wireless. I very rarely do a fresh install and not have WLAN. If you can connect to Windows Update, it will download most of the remaining ones. Anything not done this way can be downloaded easily from the manuf. The process is a little more time consuming but worth it in the long run.
Even showing hidden files, your recovery will not show up. It is a special configuration that manufacturers have control of to not show the hidden volume. Like I said though, some will show it some won't (this Sony I am working on, for example, does not.)
The easy answer to the HD thing is that there really is no way to guarantee except to keep your HD and physically damage it. But then you are liable for the cost of it.