Acer Aspire Hidden Partition Restoration

Discussion in 'hardware' started by DVD+R, Dec 22, 2008.

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  1. DVD+R

    DVD+R Registered Member

    Guys, I'd appreciate if anyone knows of a way to restore the Acer Aspire 6920G Hidden partition, So I can restore the Factory Image from my CD's I created when i bought it o_O

    I was away for a few days,and my partner didnt know how to fix a problem, the only way she knew how was to format the HD :( Now its not Data partioned at all its a Single partion of 320GB. I tried the restore disks,but the Acer eRecovery Management wont install unless its partioned with the Hidden Partition Intact o_O

    So does anyone know how I can repartition it so the Hidden Partition is Intact again. I know how to Partition into 2 Drives ACER (C: and DATA (D: but have no idea how to create the hidden partion for the eRecovery Management :doubt:
  2. BJStone

    BJStone Registered Member


    O man... I've been through this before. Exact the same scenario. Only difference with my situation was I didn't care a thing about it...

    Anyway, are you absolutely sure that hidden partition is indeed gone, blown away to the gulago_O

    If it indeed is, you'll have to send it in to Acer. Yep, I know what you're probably thinking, but the bad part about that is it will probably cost money.
    I called them once to ask about this 'problem'. The answer was like I explained above: they will put a so called preload on the hard disk drive, that one inludes the hidden partition.

    In my case I said 'screw ya', no dime from me.:argh: I had images of the systems partition and all software from the D drive. I repartitioned like I wanted it, restored the image and put back the software and all other things on D. Rebooted and voila, back in business, albeit without that (useless) hidden partition. (which does BTW nothing else than restoring the notebook to the state it was in when you bought it.)

    Next thing I did was getting over to Acers ftp site and pulled all files and applications they had for my notebook and OS, and burned those to a CD and another one for back up.
    If you have indeed nothing else to fall back to, like an image or something like that, you're screwed. In that case I'm sorry, but the only way to get back the hidden partition will be to send in the notebook to Acer. Just call them, explain the situation and they'll instruct you what to do.

    And no, there are no restore discs AFAIK, I tried that way back then, even international, they just weren't available.
  3. markymoo

    markymoo Registered Member


    markymoo: Most Acers use the same hidden partition so the golden info below is a good solution.

    As you know, the Acer computers and those of other manufacturers are now delivered with a system of restoration installed in a hidden partition of your hard disk. This system launches out while pressing keys ALT+F10 simultaneously. And sometimes for various reasons this system ceases functioning.
    The first cause often comes owing to the fact that function D2D Recovery is disable in the bios (menu principal).

    The solution : enable the function and try to press keys ALT+F10 during the starting of the computer.

    The second cause : in this case hidden partition PQSERVICE was erased or damaged, or you replaced the disc and in this case it is not present.

    The solution : If you did not previously make a backup of your system by making an image disc. It will not be possible to use the D2D recovery. Your only hope will be to have in your possession Acer Recovery CD/DVD.

    And the third causes : the Acer Master Boot Record (MBR)was damaged or replaced by non-Acer MBR. As long as partition PQSERVICE is present or that you can put the hand on the necessary Acer files you can reinstall the MBR of Acer.

    The solution :

    First method : on a functional Windows system:

    1 disable the D2D recovery option of the bios.
    2 open a Windows session with an account administrator.
    3 Download, unzip and launch partedit32(registration required for download).
    markymoo: ptedit32

    4 Identify the Pqservice partition by its size (at the bottom of the partedit window there is a partition information box) it is a small sized partition approximately 2 to 6 Go_Once made change the type of your partition into 0C and save. Restart and open a session with an administrator account, you should be able to navigate to the PQservice partition. Seek these two files mbrwrdos.exe and rtmbr.bin once localised open a command prompt and launch this command mbrwrdos.exe install rtmbr.bin, this will install the Acer MBR. Close the command prompt window restart again Windows go into the bios and reactivate the D2D recovery. Now ALT+F10 should launch Acer recovery at the starting of the computer.

    Second method : On a nonfunctional Windows system.

    For that you must use a Linux distribution (for me Mandriva provided all the tools necessary).

    1 Boot on the Mandriva install CD/DVD the boot menu will give you the possibility to repair or to restore the Windows boot loader.
    2 If that is not enough launch an installation of linux(this will be an occasion to test this terrible OS) and choose LILO as boot loader(a boot menu that allow you to choose between several operating systems) once finished the installation. Restart your computer in the boot loader menu system you will have at least 2 Windows options the first generally point to PQservice choose it and you will boot directly into acer D2D recovery.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  4. markymoo

    markymoo Registered Member


    Now I have a single partition (currently type 0B) which contains the PQS image. Using and MBR editor, I carefully replace my MBR with the Acer-specific one (copied from my factory HD). By carefully, I only replaced the code portion of the MBR, but I left the partition table unchanged. I also then changed the PQS partition to type 12.

    Now I have (hopefully) a HD that contains the Acer-specific MBR code, a single PQS partition marked as type 12, and no other partitions.

    I reboot, and press Alt-F10 to invoke the magic PQS partition. It boots and starts into the Acer recovery software. At the point it starts to run the Acer flavor of Ghost, ghost generates an error/warning that it can't find "the partition" and it wants to overwrite the PQS partition. Ah-ha! The Acer ghost is trying to restore to partition 2 and can't find it.

    So, I reboot back to CD DOS, and now I create partition 2 - another primary FAT32 partition, about 16GB in size. Just for kicks, I made it Win98 DOS bootable (this way I can test the normal boot of the laptop). And sure enough, I reboot and it happily boots up my partition 2 "C:" drive to a Win98 command prompt. At this point, the PQS partition is still marked 12h (hidden) but also I noticed that the partition type for partition 3 is now 10h. This is left over from my first boot of the PQS partition which always tries to hide partition 3 (no matter what type it is) - it just seems to logically OR partition 3's type with 10h (so 00 OR 10 = 10). If I had the factory ACERDATA partition there, it would have ORd 10 with 0F to create a hidden 1F type.

    Ok, reboot and Alt-F10 again. This time, we enter the Acer recovery software, and when ghost starts, no errors and it is "recovering" my factory WinXP to partition 2 just fine. When it completes the restore, it auto-reboots the laptop. At this point I didn't allow it to boot the HD - I forced a reboot to my DOS CD to see "what's going down" on the disk.

    What I noticed is that the PQS partition is still there (type 12), I now have the Acer factory WinXP in partition 2, partition 3 is still type 10 (I'll ignore that for now), but more interestingly, is that there's a small change in the Acer MBR code. A value that was 33h is now 5Ah. Long story short: this value change is used as a flag by the MBR boot code to force another reboot to the PQS partition and NOT boot WinXP in partition 2. I noticed that the WinXP partition is not fully restored in that it is missing much of the Acer-specific bloatware.

    Okies, I let the laptop boot normally. And yes, it reboots back to the PQS partition (even though partition 2 was marked bootable). I did not press Alt-F10 this time, so that 5Ah flag is forcing the MBR to boot the PQS partition again. This time, the PQS partition does a PHASE TWO operation and "copies files". It has detected that the WinXP partition was restored but is missing the Acer stuff. It effectively copies over the C:\ACERNB folder and makes a few tiny changes to some startup files.

    Once this completes, another snoop reveals that the MBR is now back to the 33h value and that it looks like it's ready to boot "factory" style. So I let it boot up, and voila - I'm getting WinXP first-time user experience. Once WinXP gets to the desktop, all the Acer software (17 items) gets installed (this is what PHASE TWO of PQS did). Once the Acer software is fully installed, it deletes the secret ACERNB folder. I also noticed that partition 3 (which was type 10h) is now back to 00h (so that was also "fixed").

    What I noticed this time (before I didn't copy over the Acer-specific MBR code) is that I now have eRecovery installed and running. When I did this before with the default MBR code, I guess the Acer install felt that I didn't have an PQS partition (because it looks at a signature in the MBR) so it didn't install eRecovery.

    After all of this, I just imaged restored my HD back to what I had before.

    So, what I have determined for the Travelmate 810x flavor of PQS (D2D) is:
    - It won't work if the only partition is a PQS partition in partition 1
    - It won't work unless partition 2 is a primary FAT32 partition
    - It hides partition 3 by ORing the type with 10h, but doesn't seem to matter
    - It seems that it absolutely doesn't matter what partition 3 is at all
    - It works better if the MBR code is the Acer-specific code (Alt-F10 works)
    - It fully restores eRecovery when the MBR code is the Acer code

    So, I'd recommend that if anyone wants to "fully backup" their system so they can either fully restore it or fully restore it on another HD, they should do a complete image backup of the factory HD before messing with partitions and such. Also, it wouldn't hurt to make a manual backup of the Acer MBR code and perhaps the PQS partition too as a separate ghost partition image.
  5. DVD+R

    DVD+R Registered Member


    markymoo: WOW!:eek: Thanks for all that info,and thanks also BJStone;) That all seems intense action to me I think I'll hang up on the Idea though,and single Wipe to a 320GB C: Drive,and use my WD Business 500GB external for Data.And I'll just reinstall a small amount of cofuffle from Acer to reinstall a few Apps. only other thing I want to do is upgrade from a 320 to maybe a 500 or 630 HD and upgrade from 3GB RAM 667GHz to 4GB RAM 800GHz.

    Also I think I might install Vista Ultimate 64bit SP1 too :shifty: Otherwise this is a excellent replacement fora desktop.
  6. markymoo

    markymoo Registered Member


    lol ok. i thought that was very intuitive concise info for you to attempt. nothing ventured nothing gained. there is some large dedicated threads on that very question and those solutions cut to the chase. Acer say once you delete the hidden partition then it's gone for good. of course they would say that as they don't want users messing. anyways it is interesting topic.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2008
  7. melchi73

    melchi73 Registered Member


    hello--newbie on the forum here---great info on this thread--here's my question

    got an acer aspire 3050---vista basic--got the f10 factory restore,using the e-recovery software---when i click on my computer,it is showing the partition,with the empower tech. on it(or restore stuff)-when i hit the alt/f10 keys like your supposed to-it comes up ,black screen,and from top to bottom it reads like this---


    Edit Windows boot options for:Microsoft Windows Vista

    Hard Disk: 2ad434db


    Not sure how to fix this---i can boot up windows and evetually close out the e-launcher and enjoy the computer, just annoying--and wanted to restore it to factory settings,it is used and got files and older stuff on it from my brother,whom i bought it from---from what iv'e read so far in this thread,by seeing the partition is there,thats a good thing right?

    any help help with this would be greatly appreciated
  8. markymoo

    markymoo Registered Member


    this guy got the same error and...

    I got the same message on my Acer 5633. I called up Acer and they told me that because I had upgraded to Vista via the Acer upgrade disc this function was no longer available. The reason they gave was because Acer eRecovery isn't on Vista when it is installed using their upgrade disc. I was told to reinstall a clean version of Vista by running the upgrade disc again from scratch and that would rule out any hardware faults. It should work perfectly after this and if not then it is a hardware fault and needs to be checked out by the manufacturer or whoever you have you extended warranty with.
  9. Long View

    Long View Registered Member


    A bit OT but only a bit.

    Over Christmas I treid to help a friend set up a new Acer Aspire Laptop on a wireless network.

    Just of fun I made a shadow protect image of C: Having already made a 2 DVD restore set I then restored with SP. at first everything appeared ok but when I rebooted a message said that because of a change to the disk activation was now required. I then used the 2 DVD disk set and restored everything. No problems except that it took so long. Having restored with the 2 dvd's I tried again to make a shadow protect. This time it worked. C: was now shown as NTFS and not NTFS and FAT16b.

    Now that I can make and restore using SP is there any reason to keep the hidden partition ? As it is not my machine I'm inclined to leave well alone but I think if it was my laptop I would simply delete the hidden partition and use SP to image C: and the data partition.

    any thoughts ?
  10. Long View

    Long View Registered Member


    Did you make or can you still make a set of DVD default restore disks ? apart from being slow this is the way that I have managed to restore.
  11. dadytus

    dadytus Registered Member


    I am writing this because I am set up to do a little experiment. Someone might be interested in this.
    I have an ACER Aspire 5102. It came with a preinstalled Vista Home Premium. I also have that hidden partition. I can access the files from it with Acronis Disk Director Suite.
    I also have a Windows recovery DVD disk, called Windows Anytime Upgrade. It came with my laptop. With the eRecovery function I was able to write another dvd with 'recovery' information. In fact it is a driver disk for my devices on Vista.
    I was able to install on an Asus laptop Vista using my Windows Anytime Upgrade disk. The only problem were the drivers that needed to be downloaded from the Internet. And it works perfectly.

    I decided to change my OS to Xp since Vista is a black hole of resources.
    I downloaded the drivers from the net and all's well.
    But I haven't erased my hidden partition.

    Now here's the experiment:
    I will erase the hidden partition and try to reinstall Vista from the Windows Anytime Upgrade disk.
  12. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member


    If you image your drive and blow away the manufacturer's partition, be sure you first image the manufacturer's partition and put it away. If you ever need warranty work, not having that hidden partition is grounds for them to invalidate the warranty.
  13. dadytus

    dadytus Registered Member


    Thanks for the concern, but my warranty is already expired. That's why I'm trying this...nothing to loose but it might help others. In any case I will leave a portion of the partition, and back it up using Acronis TrueImage...This weekend is brainiac experiment time:D
  14. psid8

    psid8 Registered Member


    When I did "mbrwswin.exe install rtmbr.bin" and it worked like it was supposed in a Windows Vista CMD window.

    But when I restarted my computer was messed up and vista could not load.

    It told me to insert my vista CD and repair the files.
  15. dadytus

    dadytus Registered Member

    I'm back. Unfortunately my experiment failed from the start. Some time ago when I replaced vista with xp I think I messed up the link to my hidden partition. Now, I've installed vista back, but acer E-recovery that I used to burn backup utility dvd does not appear. I figure it's beacuse I completely erased the vista system partiton when instaling xp.
    If anyone knows how to boot from that partition (I can access it via Acronis director suite) please let me know. I'm keeping the hidden partition for now.
    Dose anybody know any program to write a hidden partition like this on dvd(s)?
  16. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member

    You can download the Acer eRecovery Management software at the Acer site here Then, just use it to restore from the hidden partition.
  17. psid8

    psid8 Registered Member


    Okay so here is what my case.

    I got my Acer Aspire 5920 and came with Windows Vista Home Premium. I immediately removed vista, and installed Windows Xp Pro (not OEM). As a result of me using a non-OEM CD the acer MBR got deleted.

    Acer told me to buy restore CDs because there is no way I can now go back to factory defaults. Screw ACER!

    What I did was download PTEDIT32.EXE and made the PQService (where the factory default image is) appear in "My Computer".

    Then I downloaded and installed another non-OEM disk of Windows Vista Ultimate because I needed to install Acer eRecovery (Does not install Xp).

    Then I went into disk mangement via "My Computer" and right clicked on PQService and made it "Active". Then I opened up eRecovery and chose to do a factory default format. From there, my laptop rebooted and everything installed fine and now my laptop is the way it was when I first opened up.

    Hope this post helps!
  18. dadytus

    dadytus Registered Member

    Thanks all for the input! I was able to install again e-Recovery from the Acer site(even if it was from another model than my laptop). Even if I initially had vista on it, I was able to install e-recovery from XP, and burn my 2 factory recovery dvd's.
    I have another question though...Now that I have the disks, can I delete the recovery partition? I have the recovery disks, the drivers utility disk and the vista home premium dvd...If I put together the driver disk and the recovery disks I obtain aprox. the same quantity of data that are on the hidden partition. But I don't know if they are the same thing...o_O
  19. markymoo

    markymoo Registered Member

    yes you can but what are you going to gain by deleting the recovery partition? a little space? if the recovery is working fine. chances are you be needing it at some stage for faster recovery.
  20. JamieH1971

    JamieH1971 Registered Member

    I have an Acer Aspire 5633 laptop.
    Having mistakenly deleted the hidden PQSERVICE Partition, would it be possible to restore the partition with the aid of someone elses PQSERVICE patition DVD backup?
  21. Nirrad1st

    Nirrad1st Registered Member

    Need some serious help.
    I have messed up my MBR I believe. I have Acer aspire 6920g.

    Here is what I did. (try not to laugh to loud, or for the sensitive ones, this will be shocking) LoL

    Ok, I was going to install Caos Linux. But for some reason I selected the auto install method. When I started to realize that it was going to utilize the whole disk. I panicked and hit the power button to shut down. On the off chance it had not changed anything yet. ( I know huge mistake ) So for those who know needless to say, but viola I could not start up windows again or anything else.

    So for my next bright idea, I decided to install Ubuntu 9.04. It formated the hard but the recovery partition didnt show.

    With Acronis I am only showing 298 Gigs of 320. I am including a snap shot of the partition setup I have put together. I am also including a pick of the MBR info with Acronis. I did notice that under "hidden sectors" there is a figure of 309755? Now I am wondering is this where the 10 gig acer restore partiton is?

    So is there a way to fix the mbr or replace it , so that the recovery partition is available again? Because it is the only copy I have of the partition. I was never able to back it up on disk, because the dvd burner has not worked from day one. I have sent it back for repairs, but it was there for three problems. And they didnt fix the burner issue.

    Thanks in advance

    Attached Files:

  22. othman

    othman Registered Member

    Re: Acer Aspire 6920g

    I've bought a new acer 6920g with Vista.. I've worked with vista but some programs couldn't install in, and the other couldn't play.
    I installed XP Pro with all driver the thing isn't work is Infrared,,, Well I've try to check to alt+10 function but unfortunately it didn't work ..Now..
    How can I get it back to work with my computer and the second thing I can't division partition d . Is there any way to division it without DM
    Thanks ,,,

    NICK ADSL UK Administrator

    i have direct contact with Senior technical at acer so i will try and explain how this Recovery Management works. firstly the hidden partition can only be deleted if you were to delete the partition in which it resides which is c. if you format you only take out the OS only leaving behind the recovery drive. all you need to do is to put your recovery disks in to your DVD drive in the correct order and they should work. if they don't then someone may have deleted that partition by mistake in which case the recovery disks may not work as they will be referencing the hidden part of of the c hard drive. if the hard drive was deleted then you will need to contact acer direct for instruction's of what to do next.

    Attached Files:

  24. DVD+R

    DVD+R Registered Member

    Thanks Nick, but the hidden partition is definately gone, my partner said she used the WhiteCanyon WipeDrive Pro 5 disk to totally obliterate all partions o_O

    NICK ADSL UK Administrator

    sorry to hear that. well as i said above you can try the recovery disks in which you should have made as that pop up box is very persistent failing that you will need to explain to acer technical services of what's happened and they will send you out a set of recovery disks. their may be a small charge however :doubt:
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