3308: Moving Dell System Restore Partition

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Peter Hughes
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I have a Dell XPS400 and had to replace my 160Gb hard drive.  I replaced it with a 500Gb drive and restored my system onto that new drive - successfully - from an Acronis disk image backup.  I now want to repartition the hard drive so I can use most of the 500Gb in a single partition but the Dell System Restore partition sits between the allocated data partition and the unallocated partition at the end.  Can I move the Dell partition to the end?  I am not real concerned about having to use the Dell System Recovery utility but want to make sure I can still boot to Windows XP.  Thanks in advance.

Mark Wharton
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Peter:

Yes, you can move the Dell partition to the end of the disk; that should not create any problems. After you move it to the end, right-click on your main XP partition and choose Resize. Then expand the size of the XP partition to fill the rest of the disk. This last step is best done from the boot CD while Windows is not running.

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Fracso
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Yes, the Dell Restore partition can be damaged if you move it with DiskDirector.

It happened to me several years ago (also in a XPS 400, the same I am using now). Later I managed to "repair" the partition.

I noticed that the Dell Restore partition was damaged when I tried to boot from it (with Ctrl+F11) and I got stuck -- the system booted neither from it nor from Windows. So be prepared to solve this situation before you move it and then try to use it.

The problem arises because Ctrl+F11 sets the Dell Restore partition as "active", but since this partition is damaged, is not possible to boot from it. So the solution is to set Dell Restore as "inactive" and set the Windows partition as "active", using a boot disk. This does not repair Dell Restore, but it restores the normal operation of the system.

 

Keatah
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Acronis ti 2011 doesn't record the partition type correctly. So it "appears" to be damaged. The partition table is apparently not correctly restored.

Keatah
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??

Mark Wharton
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Keetah:

Have you verified (with a disk editor or PTEDIT) that the partition TYPE is not restored correctly with TI, or is this just conjecture? Have you seen the articles by Dan Goodell that describe the Dell Restore partition here: http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/

Take a look at the section titled "Troubleshooting the Restore Process" here: http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/fixes.htm

This article goes into detail about how the Dell Restore Partition works. One piece of information that jumped out at me was the statement that the restore partition contains a copy in sector 18 of the disk's original partition table. If a user makes ANY alteration to the partition table or to the boot code in the MBR then the Dell Restore function will fail when it detects differences between the disk's partition table and the stored copy in the Dell Restore partition. ANY alteration may include moving a partition's starting sector, however slightly, or resizing a partition, however slightly.

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Keatah
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Based on what I read I concluded that the TYPE is not restored correctly. I won't have the opportunity to actually verify this on a real dell system till I actually go to work on it.

But ultimately, I want to be able to completely image a dimension system consisting of a single 160GB hard drive. I want to be able to do this with a rescue disk(for security reasons), and grab all 3 partitions, 39MB fat16, 146GB winxp/ntfs, and the 3GB fat32 partition. A basic standard dell system! no funky mods, no multi-boot to linux.. etc

I want to image the whole drive, and then restore the whole drive. And have the system work just like it did at time of imaging. I want this system to boot correctly the first time after a restore without having to mess with mbrs and part tables and the like.

Is this indeed possible?

btw, I've been imaging my other systems for years. First time attempting a dell one though.

Unfortunately I cannot disassemble the system to swap drives for testing.

Mark Wharton
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If you do get to test this someday it will be pretty simple to verify whether the TYPE byte in the partition table is restored correctly. If you're using TI 2011 then just examine sector 0 on the disk with the read-only disk editor that is on the Tools menu:

Or, if you're using the boot CD:

On either, click on the icon of the disk whose partition table you want to view, change to "As partition table" from the View menu, and observe the partition type byte as in this example:

Or you could download PTEDIT.EXE from Symantec and use it to view (and/or change; be careful) the partition table on any disk on the machine. Having confirmation that the TYPE byte is or is not changing will be helpful in figuring out how to accomplish your objective.

Not to beat a dead horse, but if you have imaging software then why do you need to have the Dell Restore function working? Being able to restore to a completely set-up and functional system as it exists at some point in time is MUCH more useful than being able to restore to factory configuration.

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Keatah
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I suppose I can ignore whether the restore partition works correctly, but what is absolutely essential is that the system can be restored correctly the first time.

I will need this system to boot correctly after a restore.

Keatah
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Perhaps I'm making this a bigger stink then it really is. I can't imagine folks not having imaged a Dell system before, and then successfully restore it..??

So can I or can't I use ati2011 to image a dell system, and then restore it?

MudCrab
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I'm sure a lot of people have successfully imaged and restored Dell systems, but every situtation is not the same. Some people just restore the Windows partition, for example.

I don't have a Dell system to test and my attempts to "duplicate" the setup didn't fare well. I do not like how TI 2011 handles restores -- there is no clear user control over the process. Even selecting the correct drive/partition is more difficult than previous versions, especially when using identical drives.

I would offer the following suggestions:

  • Research Dell fixes and have the tools on hand to implement them.
  • Have the standard Windows "boot fix" tools available.
  • Create at least three backup images of the ENTIRE drive using three different imaging programs.
  • Test the restore on a new drive before messing with the original.
  • Test the restore before there are any problems with the original.
  • Test restoring both the same-sized partitions (no expanding) and expanded partitions (to a larger drive, for example).
  • If the system ABSOLUTELY MUST boot properly after the restore because requiring any fixes would end the world as we know it, I would suggest that you consider creating a Clone of the drive that you know works and have it handy to slip in.
  • Consider replacing the Dell with a different computer.

When I build a new system, I usually do a lot of tests with the imaging program I plan to use with it. Often, that program sticks with the computer and doesn't change. Because I know what works, I don't have to worry about any restoring problems later on.

As a side note, you say that you've been imaging for years. However, if I may be a little blunt, it sure doesn't seem that way from your questions/statements and the fact that you haven't (or won't) run any tests on the system.

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Mark Wharton
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As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I've been imaging and restoring my two Dell Dimension 8400 desktop PCs with ATI 10 since 2005, with WinXP, Vista, Windows 7, and Linux operating systems and yes, TI does the job just fine. However, one of the first things that I did was to remove the Dell Utility and Dell Restore partitions from the machines before using them. So now they are no different than any plain vanilla PC.

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Keatah
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Yes I have been imaging/restoring systems for several years. They all have been trouble-free, single partition win xp systems with no custom dell modifications. In fact, they aren't dell systems at all. I hate dell through and through!

Basic imaging operations and selective file backup -- that's all too easy, and most any software out there seems to work, from easeus, paragon, macrium(sp), r-drive.. etc. As well as synchronization software for daily document backups.

Believe me I would absolutely love to take it apart and put in a 2nd drive for testing. That's not an option and not my choice.

I may be able to convince the user of this system to allow us to remove the diagnostics and restore partitions. I will assume that doing that would entail backing up the C: partition, wiping the drive, putting in a standard MBR and putting back the C part.. Perhaps editing boot.ini .. That's easy on a standard system or home-built, but what needs to be considered with the dell systems?

MudCrab
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When you're working on someone else's computer, it can be more difficult. However, it's really in their best interest to let you test the system, especially if they want to count on the restore working correctly if there's a failure. Otherwise, they at least know that the data is backed up and (if the worst happens) only the OS would need to be recovered/reinstalled to get the computer running again if the drive restore failed.

I know where you're coming from because I have several clients that are the same way.

I'm not sure about removing the Dell partitions, but I think you should be able to. The only problem I could see is if there is something specific in the BIOS that won't allow the system to boot if it doesn't find what it's looking for on the drive.

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Jay Roberts
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Hello all,

Like many people, I tried searching everywhere for a solution to the broken Dell Recovery Partition when upgrading to a larger hard drive. I figured out a solution, and I feel that it took enough trial and error to get to it, that I must share.

I am upgrading the hard drive of a friends older XP machine and the thought of leaving unused space doesn't make much sense. Yes, I can do a simple clone of the hard drives and use it as is, but why not take full advantage of it.

I found that after a successful clone using TI 2012, I the machine would boot to the DSR partition fine. It was after I used Disk Director to move the DSR partition to the end that partition was no longer bootable (corrupted PBR)

Solution
1. Add blank hdd to computer onto the second sata cable.
2. Clone smaller hard drive to larger hard drive using TI 2012.
3. Remove smaller hard drive or just unplug the data cable.
4. Boot to the C partition (Windows XP) of the larger drive.
5. Download BOOTICE from http://www.pendriveapps.com/bootice-partition-flash-drive-edit-boot-sector/
6. Run it
7. Select the New HDD as the Destination Disk
8. Click on Process PBR
9. For the Destination Partition, find and select the Dell Recovery partition.
10. Click backup PBR and save that file to a flash drive.
11. Boot computer to Acronis Disk Director using Burned Media CD.
12. Move the partition to the end of the drive.
13. Enlarge the new C partition, if you want.
14. Reboot back into Windows
15. Launch BOOTICE again.
16. Select hard drive and Click Process PBR again.
17. Select the Dell Recovery Partion again, but now Restore PBR located on flash drive.
18. DONE