What media can I restore Vista from?

By markchip ·
My home pc is a Compaq desktop with an oem install of Vista Home Premium. After 18 months I decided it was time to reinstall Windows to spruce things up. My pc had a recovery partition which I booted into from the initial splash screen. The recovery failed as I did not know to unplug all non-essential cables beforehand - network, usb, sound - but then after trying again with these unplugged the recovery still failed on several attempts.

In desparation to get back online I loaded a copy of XP pro which proved very flaky - frequent blue screens and lock-ups. I saw the recovery partition was no longer visible in computer/disk management and instead there was a 147 gig chunk of unallocated space (recovery partition was 8 gig)!!

After then waiting a week for the arrival of two recovery dvds I thought my problems were over but even following the instructions to the letter the recovery still failed four times in succession. My conclusion is that these discs were faulty or flawed in some way OR that my hard drive had a problem. So I tried recovering onto a replacement drive - still a failure!

I have finally got a working install of xp pro but I still want to get vista back on (I actually like it and have had no problems with it at all!!). My problem is this... can I legitimately install vista from a friend's copy and them change the product key from the system window to match the original key on the COA sticker on the case?

Cheers, Mark

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All Answers

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See if this will work

by Jacky Howe In reply to What media can I restore ...

I would be interested to know if it does.

Boot from the Recovery DVD and if you press Ctrl-Backspace a manufacturers menu should appear.

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by markchip In reply to See if this will work

- will give it a try as soon as I've made a Ghost image of the now-complete xp pro installation - I'm sick and tired of downloading all the new drivers and updates each time!

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Slip the side cover

by Jacky Howe In reply to See if this will work

off from the System and check the Wattage on your Power Supply Unit (PSU). It is more than likely around 250 Watts. You could replace it with something around 500 - 600 Watts.
I think that your problem could be related to an underpowerd PSU.

I have also found some interesting information that should not effect you as your Recovery DVD is not tied to your System so it should not effect you.

There is a cunning trap placed in HP and Compaq computers in which a 'tattoo' or numerical signature of the motherboard and hardware configuration is created at the factory and encoded into the restore disks on a particular computer and it will check the DMI state. Code Purple happens when the BIOS of the Motherboard does not match the one recorded by the software at setup. When you re-install your system, it checks to make sure the system has not been modified. If you have modified your system, the 'tattoo' generated by the checking program will be different than the original, and the system will not boot. It should throw up an error message with a reference to Compaq Code Purple.

Edit: formatting & spelling

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First off, how many recovery disks do you have?....

by Peconet Tietokoneet In reply to What media can I restore ...

If these are dvd's then you should have two, if they are cd's then you should have three. They should be one marked "Disk One", the others should be marked "Disk One of two" and "Disk two of two".
You will need to clear everything form your drive first (complete wipe), and then load on the disks in order. Download either of these:

Darik's Boot And Nuke:

Killdisk will take at up to at least four hours to wipe your drive, Boot and Nuke will most probably take the same time, but i have not tested this out as yet with Boot and Nuke.
When done load on the Disk marked "Disk One", and follow the instructions, you should be asked for the other disks for installation.
Hope all works out for you.

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I wondered about checking for drive flaws...

by markchip In reply to First off, how many recov ...

- but as I'm no expert all I did was run chkdsk and then delete all the partitions before re-creating them and doing a full (not a quick-) format. Are these low or high level formatting tools?

Btw there were 2 dvds in the recovery set.

At least I have more options now, thanks!!

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If you wiped the recovery partition....

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to I wondered about checking ...

... you may be out of luck trying to get Vista back. I don't know if they still do it, but COMPAQ used to put the OS installation files on that recovery partition and all the CD/DVD would do was to boot the computer and turn control over to the OS install from the recovery partition.

If you've wiped the partition, it's entirely possible you've wiped critical files needed for the install.

Keep your fingers crossed that they've stopped this practice.

Look on the bright side though... You have XP!

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by markchip In reply to If you wiped the recovery ...

In the process of trying to recover from the recovery partition and then installing xp pro the recovery partition (8gig) disappeared from disc management altogether and an unallocated section of 146 gig appeared instead! - obviously an error. So I don't have any recovery partition at all. Add to that my newly arrived recovery discs not appearing to work and that's why my first idea was to install from someone else's vista dvd (I never had one) and then to change the product key back to my original number.

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Probably won't work........

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to aha!

Someone else's DVD would be either an OEM copy (came with their machine) or a retail copy (purchased over the counter). The number which activates that DVD would be of a different sequence than the number on your machine (OEM). Even if theirs is an OEM copy, their number sequence would match the sequences issued to THAT manufacturer. If your computer is from a different manufacturer, your number sequence probably won't work with their DVD (won't activate and authenticate).

Your best bet for getting the machine back up and running legitimately is to contact the manufacturer of YOUR machine and ask them to supply the files which USED to be stored on the recovery partition, or a full OS install disk, not a recovery disk.

Also, through all of this, have you tested the DVD reader to make sure it's functioning properly? It could well be defective.

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Recommendations and Info about Vista DVDs

by willcomp In reply to What media can I restore ...

First, test hard disk and memory. Errors associated with either will cause OS install problems. Use Memtest86+ to test memory and let it run for at least 2 full passes. Use the manufacturer's utility to test hard disk. All you need is on the UBCD.

Then wipe the hard disk as previously recommended. Boot and Nuke and Killdisk are on the UBCD.

Try installing Vista using recovery disks.

Standard OEM and retail Vista 32 bit DVDs contain all the 32 bit versions of Vista. Differentiation is by the product key entered during setup. So you can use any non manufacturer specific OEM or retail copy of Vista to install with your product key.

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RE: the recovery still failed four times in succession.

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to What media can I restore ...

Knowing the Error Messages would help no end here.

But if you have modified this system in any way at all that is most likely where the problems are coming from here.

Start off by removing all but 1 Stick or RAM and try using the Vista Disc that you got from HP and see if it works this time. Odds are that it will and the Second Disc should have the Necessary Drivers on it that you need to install After you finish the Vista install. At least the last Dell that I looked at came that way a full version of Vista on 1 DVD and the Drivers for a range of models on the other. As I avoid HP Products like the plague I don't have any first hand knowledge of what they do exactly but I do understand that as Vista is still considered a New they still supply it by itself and do not Slipstream the necessary Drivers to it yet.

So if that is the case here you have a Hardware problem and that is most likely RAM related and there is a Timing Issue which prevents the Windows Installer for successfully completing but doesn't affect Windows once it is installed.

Generally with Timing Issues with the RAM you get messages that File XYZ was unable to be found and this can change between different attempts at installing. What is happening then is that the RAM is hitting a Timing Issue and the File that is reported as Missing fails to get written to the RAM and you get this error message when the Installer comes to copy it to the HDD.

The way around this s to remove extra RAM and install with just the Basic 1 Stick then refit the RAM after the Install is completed. This includes any Drivers as well as Windows so get everything installed before turning off and replacing the RAM.

A way to prove that this is the problem is to use your friends Vista Install Disc with your Product Key and if it has the same problems it's not a Software or DVD Issue but a straight Hardware problem that needs fixing before you proceed any further.


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