Foolish mistake using ctrl F11 after installing secure zone! A few questions?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by zoril, Mar 11, 2006.

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  1. zoril

    zoril Registered Member

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    Hi everyone:)

    I just bought a new Dell XP computer and naturally installed TI creating the secure zone (where I backed up all of my main C: drive that included the o/s), rescue disk, etc.

    A short time later I tried to access Dell's recovery screen using ctrl F11 just to have a look but was unable to and to make matters worse everytime I tried to boot up, it kept going back to that same screen with the cursor freezing. I was able to bypass it using the F2 key so that I could set the cd/dvd drive to 1st load. I was then able to use the rescue disk. (I guess I could have done similar using F12). After a very scary 10 minutes or so much to my delight my system was restored properly....

    Clearly there can be only one MBR and I was unsure if Acronis possibly replaces the original Dell one? Like the vast majority in this forum, I would not like to revert my system back to day one, unless it was an absolute must. (It would mean at least 60 hours of work reinstalling the software).

    Also knowing that TI is working for me gives me considerable reassurance. I did not delete the Dell partitions (in case it invalidated the warranty), although I bought an OS reinstallation CD + Drivers and the Utilities disk from Dell at the time of purchasing the computer...

    I read several excellent articles in this forum re F11 just before writing this post but still have a question that hopefully anyone with technical knowledge can answer...

    1.) Is it possible to get the original MBR back and if so how? In other words should it ever be necessary to access ctrl F11 anytime in the future (during the warranty period of 1 year) Dell might insist on that partition being accessible!

    2.) If there is a way to get the original MBR back would that alone be enough to make ctrl F11 work again, or would something else be needed?

    3.) My knowledge of WindowsXP is limited. I have set system restore points before installing the secure zone etc. Would reverting the system back to one of these restore points also restore the original MBR and mean that ctrl F11 would work? Of course I dont plan on doing this unless a major problem arises where Dell insists on using ctrl F11 and it being available.

    It would be great to know the answer to these questions, although reverting back to day one as far as I am concerned would be an absolute last resort, as the whole point of using a program like TI is to avoid doing this!

    Any replies will be much appreciated...........................Howard:)
     
  2. WSFuser

    WSFuser Registered Member

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    afaik, true image doesnt do anything to ur MBR. when u make a secure zone, it installs a new item into ur boot menu but nothing more.

    heres some info on fixing ur MBR but i dont know if it could have consequences on ur dell:

    if u need a win98 boot disk, click here

    for ur third question, system restore only affects ur windows registry, it has nothing to do with ur MBR.
     
  3. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hello Howard,

    I'm not sure how brave you feel but check out this Dan Goodell article titled <Inside the Dell PC Restore Partition>. It provides details on how to recreate the Dell MBR and recover the special Restore partition.

    Regards
     
  4. zoril

    zoril Registered Member

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    Many thanks for the replies - much appreciated:) I will also read that article.

    My technical knowledge is a bit limited I am afraid. Can you possibly explain why ctrl F11 no longer works? If the MBR is maybe ok is it best I leave it?

    Would system restore work to the pre secure zone state (I have created early restore). If so should ctrl F11 then work?

    Howard
     
  5. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

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    The first time you did anything to your drive which altered the partition structure you destroyed the Dell PC Restore (CTL+F11) function. That includes when you created the Acronis Secure Zone.

    There is no way you will be able to restore that function short of begging Dell to send you a completely imaged warranty replacement hard drive.

    Dell doesn't require you to retain either the Diagnostic partition or the Restore partition for warranty purposes but their troubleshooting procedures under warranty frequently suggest that these functions be used.

    Your Diagnostic partition will still work (F12 on bootup) so you can back that and your C partition up using TrueImage. You may as well delete the Dell PC Restore partition and resize your C partition to use that additional 3-4GB of space.

    As far as your MBR is concerned, that was changed when you activated the Acronis Secure Zone. You can't get it back at this point and running Fix MBR does nothing to help your situation unless your drive fails to boot at all.

    Because you have the Dell OS and other setup disks (you'll need all five or so) you can delete the old Dell PC Restore partition, keep the Dell diagnostic partition, reformat and upsize your C partition and completely reinstall all software (be sure to download all the applicable Dell drivers, patches, etc.) and then create an image of the freshly redone drive for future restore use.
     
  6. zoril

    zoril Registered Member

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    Much obliged for that detailed information. It is really appreciated and saves me time doing things that won't work. I guess having the reinstallation CD should hopefully help also? From what you say system restore would not work so I won't ever try that......Howard
     
  7. dscrap

    dscrap Registered Member

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    The Dell Restore partition contains a folder called IMG. It has the image files in it that the Dell restore program uses. The Dell restore program is actually Ghost 2003 watered down. It has the ability to restore an image, but not make one. The program that does the restoring is called RECOVER.EXE and is contained on the hidden restore partition. If the restore partiton has not been changed, it is possible to fix the MBR from an original Dell MBR.

    If you could care less about the Dell restore, you could always make a hard copy CD/DVD of the hidden restore partition and manually restore the images to Dell factory by booting with a windows boot disk and then running the Restore.exe or ghost 2003.

    I would make the copy of the Dell resore partition regardless just in case you wanted to sell the system later. Then wipe the drive and reinstall without all of the Dell junk and make a backup using true image.

    http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/index.htm

    Defenitely look at the page above. It has a lot of usefull information. There are also a few posts in the Dell community forum... If you want the original MBR, PM me. I have it from a Dell Inspiron E1705 and 710M. It should be universal with all systems. I also have an ISO file that I made so you would just insert the images into it and then boot it to restore to factory via a DVD.

    Good Luck...
     
  8. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

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    My comment is based upon zoril's statement that he knew very little about Windows, etc.

    As dscrap has pointed out, there are several technical and somewhat tedious ways to restore the functionality of Dell's PC Restore but they all require more skill, equipment and software than most new Dell owners possess when they discover their Dell PC Restore function no longer works.
     
  9. zoril

    zoril Registered Member

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    Bobdat is correct I have little knowledge of WindowsXP. I did read that article but it was too complex for me:(

    I remember with Win'98se creating boot disks, but I didn't think it was possible with xp which is new to me - although I do have a floppy drive and cd/dvd writer installed + a spare external usb hard drive. If there was a simple way to copy the Dell partition to that hard disk it would be a help. I think the spare ones I see are FAT32 and FAT16...

    I am not sure if I changed the mbr or not. I can still boot into safe mode F8 and also F12. I think I read something about not being able to do so if the mbr was changed but I might be wrong...

    Thanks for the replies:)

    Howard
     
  10. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

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    Your other F functions will still work even when Dell PC Restore is broken. As you already found out, Goodell's article is way above the heads of most Dell users and therefore offers no real solution for them.

    Unless you created an image of your ENTIRE drive BEFORE you made the first structural change (which would have altered the original MBR) you are dead in the water as far as Dell PC Restore. You may as well just lose the restore partition because it's useless to you in the future.

    There were three partitions on your drive when you received your Dell:
    1) C: NTFS format - largest
    2) Diagnostics: FAT - less than 100MB
    3) Dell Restore: FAT - about 3-4GB

    You can use your XP OS CD to delete the Dell Restore partition and then resize your C partition.

    If you are within your first month or so of receipt of your new system, you can call Dell Tech Support and report that your drive has failed and that you cannot access the Dell PC Restore partition. If you persist, they may send you a fully imaged warranty replacement hard drive which will have a variant of the Dell PC Restore partition on it along with all your original software.

    After you install the drive and boot all the way to the desktop the first time, you could then reboot with your Acronis Rescue CD and create a new image of the ENTIRE disk and store it to CD's and/or an external USB drive for later restore purposes.

    That's just about the only thing that's gonna help you as far as I can see if you really want Dell PC Restore again.
     
  11. zoril

    zoril Registered Member

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    Thanks for the reply Bobdat:) I do have a Windows reinstallation CD and a resource CD from Dell....

    I am assuming from what you say that if I ever formatted the hard drive then reinstalled Windows xp pro using the reinstallation disk, that this would make no difference to the Dell partition? Out of curiosity would formatting and reinstalling Winxp create a new mbr or would Acronis need to be uninstalled first?................Howard
     
  12. bobdat

    bobdat Registered Member

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    What I was trying to say is that, short of reformatting and reinstalling all your software, you could, if you felt the urge, use your XP CD to delete the now useless Dell PC Restore partition (3-4GB) and then upsize your C partition to reclaim that space. Or, you could just ignore its presence if you don't need the additional space.

    Your MBR is always a part of your hard drive. It will be changed whenever you make structural changes to your drive like changing partitions and resizing, etc.

    If you choose to reformat your drive and reload all your software, you could delete all partitions except your Dell Diagnostic partition, then repartition and reinstall the OS, drivers, and other software (very tedious and time-consuming). When you're done, don't activate Acronis Secure Zone if you don't want it. You can use the TI Create/Restore Image features instead.
     
  13. zoril

    zoril Registered Member

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    Thanks for the advice - From what you say If I ever decided on the tedious route, I would also need to also delete the C: partition? I only have the one C: partition apart from the Dell and Acronis partitions.

    I would clearly need to remove the TI partition first. In a way it was very lucky that TI worked as not only did ctrl F11 fail but after the failure everytime I booted it went to same ctrlF11 screen where all froze. I eventually got everything working by using the rescue disk.....Howard
     
  14. cilantro05

    cilantro05 Registered Member

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    Yes, please -- my company's sysadmin replaced the original MBR on my 710M before I ever got my hands on it, and I'd like a copy. Tried PM; the system is unavailable. Other options?

    Thanks.
     
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