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Is it possible to access the "restore partition" on a Dell Inspiron after..

By MorrisNTex ·
Is it possible to access the "restore partition" on a Dell Inspiron after a failed "Windows XP" restore?
Friend tried to use the Windows system restore, he claims that it was going along fine and prompted him to reboot and then it wouldn't reboot to Windows. It appears the entire OS partition is corrupted but the Dell System Diagnostic and restore partitions still seem to be intact. I can get into the diagnostics at boot time but the "ctrl-F11" trick doesn't work here.
I've checked Dell's website for this system and it doesn't appear there are any drivers specific to the drive controller. I booted from a CD into the recovery console and ran FIXMBR but it tells me that the partition information is either invalid or written by other partition manager software. I've booted with UBCD4Win and it is also unable to read the Windows partition.
The reason the friend tried the Windows restore was a virus, not sure which, I only had a brief look at it before he did this and I had suspected possible root kit type (various reasons). But he was in a hurry and I had other obligations at the time so he took it to a local chain store and they confirmed it had a virus and gave him cost estimate to repair which he declined and took the laptop back home and tried the system rollback.

Anyway is there some way to use Dell's system restore partition after a fubar like this?
Thanks

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Just to be 100% certain,

by seanferd In reply to Is it possible to access ...

you are pressing ctrl+F11 immediately after powering on? Don't wait for anything, hit the keys. It is a Dell BIOS function, so you may also be able to set it to boot to Recovery in BIOS setup, or make sure it hasn't been disabled.

You can also try F8 as a possibility.

Also, realize that if you do get Dell Recover to work, it is going to image the drive to factory condition. Everything will be wiped.

But I'll see what I can find out.

edit: At the risk of stating the obvious, you can order a recovery disk from Dell.

And if you have a retail XP disk somewhere, you can use it to boot into Recovery Console and chkdsk /r, then try fixboot/fixmbr again.

Er, and one last thing: You can always get a pre-made Bart PE or UBCD disk and use some of the drive tools to see if a partition table or something can be fixed. I've had to do that before, and it was a relatively old utility which fixed the problem. There are other odd utility CDs that folks have compiled with all sorts of repair tools on them. You may have to try a number of the tools before you hit on one which finds and fixes the problem.

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Did that,

by MorrisNTex In reply to Just to be 100% certain,

I did boot with a Windows CD and went to the recovery console and the Windows partition was unreadable. But I'll give that another try and see if CHKDSK will do anything.
It did briefly pass through my mind to check the BIOS to see if the recovery option was disabled, I know some BIOS have that option, but I was interrupted and didn't give it a second thought after that.
I also tried several of the utilities on the UBCD4Win and each one came back with an error although one did report "used and free" space on that partition.
Thanks for the suggestions I'll run through these things again.
I wasn't hitting "ctrl f11" immediately I'll give that a try too and report back as to my success or lack thereof!

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Here's a new one!!!

by MorrisNTex In reply to Is it possible to access ...

Ran CHKDSK and got something I've never seen before

"Invalid OPCODE fault at [address]"
"Unrelocated crash address [address]"
Then nearly a full screen of info that looked a lot like a blue screen memory dump!

(this is nuts... trying to edit this post and it's losing stuff!)
Oh yeah, tried the "ctrl f11" immediately at power up and nothing so I went into the BIOS and there was nothing in there about enabling or disabling recovery.

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This is beginning to sound like

by santeewelding In reply to Here's a new one!!!

You have taken on a job from ****.

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Use a partition editor to designate the boot partition

by scndtnr In reply to Is it possible to access ...

Gparted Live works well for this; I found it on a TR post a while back (http://software.techrepublic.com.com/abstract.aspx?docid=779011&tag=content;leftCol) and used it for a similar situation. Once the boot partition was established, I was able to invoke the Dell system restore.

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Wow, Great minds & all that stuff...

by MorrisNTex In reply to Use a partition editor to ...


Actually I used EASEUS partition manager from the UBCD4Win CD. Before I did that I used one of the explorer programs and was able to look at the contents of the recovery partition and saw that it should be bootable if that partition was active. So I gave it a whirl...
Booted into the "Norton Ghost" recovery program and told it to do its thing, then got an ominous "fatal error" message...

I'm going to try to Delete & then recreate the OS partition & then format it. we'll see what that does for us!

Thanks for your suggestion.

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Final solution

by MorrisNTex In reply to Is it possible to access ...

Just realized I never finished this thread out. After discussing the problem with the owner of the computer he didn't want to order the recovery Disks from Dell. He asked to just wipe the drive, recovery partition and all and reinstall the OS. He was able to find the drivers CD so I didn't have to download much there. He was a tad bit frustrated because he lost some digital camera pictures and email addresses but other than that he had a back up of most of his pictures and mp3s.

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