Imaging "Dell PC Restore" hidden partition

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Window_Seat, Apr 9, 2005.

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  1. Window_Seat

    Window_Seat Registered Member

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    Hay all!

    I was directed to Acronis by a user of another forum related to the PC manufacture I recently purchased from.

    I have a Dell Dim. 4700, Win XP Pro, and it came with the Dell PC Restore by Symantec hidden partition that is brought up by pressing "Ctrl+F11" on boot-up. I understand that this utility is stored on a hidden partition of the HDD and there is no way to back it up without using some kind of imaging software. I also understand that TI 8.0 is the best program out there that will allow me to image that partition as well as everything else, including putting another clone of it on an external HDD which I would immediately do.

    I would just like to receive confirmation that the above is true.

    Thanks for a great forum! :cool:

    Erik.
     
  2. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hello Erik,

    Provided your hardware is correctly detected after booting into the True Image (Linux based) rescue environment TI will do what you require.

    Download and install the free trial version of TI 8 from acronis.com, create the bootable rescue CD/floppies and then create an image. Make sure you image the whole of your disk by checking the tickbox next to the source disk letter. After that, verify the image using T's Check Image Wizard. Next, boot from the rescue CD and then go through the process of restoring the source drive. Although the trial version doesn't allow you to actually restore the system partition/drive, you'll be able to see whether your drives are correctly detected.

    Whatever you do don't be tempted to activate the Startup Recovery Manager. Doing so overwrites the Master Boot Record and will most likely prevent you using Dell's "PC Restore by Symantec" feature.

    Regards
     
  3. Window_Seat

    Window_Seat Registered Member

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    Wellllll.... Unfortunately, I ran it, and attempted to create an image, and I LOST the partition, and my Windows XP had been blown away. Now Dell is sending me a new harddrive along with a tech.

    Here is what happened:

    After installing the software and creating the image in increments, it went to reboot.

    The blue screen (of death) came up and flashed the error message "Config_List_Failed". Then it said something to the effect of "If this is the first time you are seeing this message, please restart your computer and reboot into safe mode".

    I figured that since I wasn't going to be able to boot up to Windows, I would use the "Dell PC Restore" utility. WRONG!!! The partition was lost forever apparently because the program had re-written to the master boot record.

    When I got everything back, the partition that the image program created left me with only 10.75 GB (out of 160) for my Windows XP Pro to boot up to, and I was being yelled at for having too little disk space.

    Now I have everything back up except for the hidden partition because I had all of my data backed up, but there is still one nagging problem, and that is my McAfee Active Shield keeps showing an error message.

    I'm not sure exactly what I did wrong, but I know that I either really goofed, or this partition is made NOT to be imaged or backed up.

    I don't recall anything that indicated I was activating "startup recovery manager".

    Erik.
     
  4. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hi Erik,

    Not a good introduction to True Image's potential!!

    To date no other users of Dell computers have reported a similar problem so I guess it must have been something you did (sorry for having to say that).

    Did you by any chance create a TI Secure Zone? If so then then the default option selected by TI is to also activate the SRM (see screenshot below). As I warned above, activating the SRM will modify the existing MBR.

    Personally, given the potential problems the SRM can cause with multi-boot partitions or removable hard drives, I think Acronis should seriously consider changing the default selection in the Manage Acronis Secure Zone Wizard to "Do not activate Acronis Startup Recovery Manager".

    Regards
     

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  5. Window_Seat

    Window_Seat Registered Member

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    Yes, I'm sure it was something I did, and you confirmed it. It would be nice if Acronis could at least let users know that creating a SZ will ultimately rewrite to the MBR which is what happened.

    Since Dell is sending me a new hard drive, and I'm giving this thing another chance, I'll play around with it and see what I can do with it. :doubt:

    BTW, I tried to use another zone other than SZ, but it wouldn't let me.

    Erik.
     
  6. Actually this is not true.. Just because someone does not post in here does not mean that people with Dell PC's are not having an issue.

    I bought TI8 and immediately had an issue with it on a brand new Dell Dimension XPS. The issue was that once TI8 was installed I could not run it and successfully create a Secure Zone. The application would just lockup and sit there.

    I emailed support and after weeks of email after email I finally got a response that told me that I my issue was related to the fact that I have a folder on my desktop that has web links in it. I removed all items on my desktop with the exception of the standard Windows desktop shortcuts and the application did the same thing.

    I requested a refund and waited about two weeks to hear about that. Instead of a refund I was offered another application. I figured.. Ok.. One more try. I requested the Privacy Expert Suite 2004. Well.. Guess what it does the same thing. If you use the option to create a bootable CD, which according to tech support is the same app that makes the secure zone in TI8, it locks up.

    I emailed Technical support stating that this app does the same thing and I am sick and tired of the issue. Its been weeks and no response. But hey.. I can go into safe mode and create my CDR, but I should not have to. There is an incompatibility with a driver on my PC and the Acronis mediabuilder application and I basically have been given the run arround. I am out $50.00 and have two applications I can not use.

    So.. Yes.. There are other people with Dells that have issues. They have probably just emailed Technical Support directly just as I have.

    I currently have a TI8 and a Privacy Expert 2004 package if anyone wants to buy it off of me.. Hell I cant use them and they are useless to me as no one @ Acronis seems to care about my issue and pawns it off as "its something on my desktop (in the case of TI)" or just does not email me back at all.

    -- Charles Pippin
     
  7. Opps.. left out the most important part. The part that ties into why I disagreed with the comment of "no other Dell computers have reported a similar problem".

    While I did not take that approach of running the recovery CD... which was the final nail in the coffin for this persons issue.. I did have a level of corruption.

    My intent when I purchased TI was to make a clean backup of my new system as well as the Dell partition. Using TI8 and having it lock up as often as it did, caused my system to become corrupt (Disk boot) and had to do a /fixmbr from the recovery console to correct the issue and than I had to run a bunch or consistency checks on the drives to make sure all was well.

    To date, all other apps (like GoBack, PartitionMagic, SpinRite, Diskeeper) have worked with no issues at all.
     
  8. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Well, I never said or implied that people with Dell computers didn't have any issues (I'm fully aware that's not the case). I said no other users of Dell computers have reported a similar problem to that reported by Window_Seat. If it's been reported outside this forum then us mere mortals wouldn't know about it!!

    However, as far as I can see, your problem is entirely different to that posted by Window_Seat and should really have been posted via a new thread.

    Regards
     
  9. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello Erik,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Please note that point 3.3 of User's Guide describes what is Acronis Startup Recovery Manager and what it does when activated. However, the computer shouldn't reboot after image creation. Could you please clarify what you did just before you got BSOD?

    Thank you.
    --
    Ilya Toytman
     
  10. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello Charles,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Could you please let me know your Acronis request # which was sent to you in autoreply to your first message? This will allow me to find the reason why you didn't receive the answer from Acronis Support Team.

    Thank you.
    --
    Ilya Toytman
     
  11. MartinH

    MartinH Registered Member

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    Hm...
    I have a Dell computer, too.
    But i don't have a restore utily from dell.

    But there is this hidden Diagnostics partition. I have formatted, cleared the mbr and all of things you can clear but I could everytime boot to the diagnostics partition with pressing F12 on the dell screen.

    If you had not deleted the restore partition you should be able to boot to it, because the function to press F12 or Ctrl+F11 isn't maked by the mbr.

    It is a function that is in the BIOS. You must press Ctrl+F11, when the Dell logo appears and not when the mbr is loaded.
     
  12. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hi Martin,

    Interesting. Thanks for the information/clarification.

    Regards
     
  13. S?ul

    S?ul Registered Member

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    I'm testing the trial version at the moment and, like Window_Seat, have also activated the Startup Manager. *sigh* This did modify my MBR because I'm offered the F11 choice on a seperate screen during boot up. (I even went in once but decided to boot normally instead)

    Anyway, I'm not having any problems from doing this. Just the extra F11 boot screen. My question is...Will the MBR return to normal when I uninstal the TI8 Trial? I'm going to purchase the boxed version, but read that you have to uninstal the trial before installing the full version. The extra boot screen doesn't bother me, but I'm worried that it may cause some problems later.

    Thank you,
    Søul

    PS, There should definately be a warning when running that wizard. Not every user is going to read through the entire manual before trying things out.
    -Stereotypical Male: "Manual? I don't need no stinking manual!" :D
     
  14. My issue was similar.. not exact.. but similar. I just did not take the road of utilizing the restore CD. I did not start another thread becuase, to me, this is a done matter.

    Its an incompatibility and I will accept that. I was just wanting to point out that another Dell owner has had issues and of a similar nature.
     
  15. That # is 183693.
     
  16. MiniMax

    MiniMax Registered Member

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    Off topic: Why would males even bother with True Image? Real males don't make images - they just cry when their hard disk die *puppy*
     
  17. iflyprivate

    iflyprivate Registered Member

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    I have a Dell laptop with the typical Dell hidden diagnostics and restore partitions. I bought TI8 specifically to image my hard drive and retain the functionality of those hidden partitions.

    The diagnostics partition can be booted to using F12 and is, as was said above, BIOS-enabled.

    However, the Dell pc restore partition (Ctl+F11 on startup) depends upon at least two things to work:

    1) No modification to the hard drive's master boot record. A modification occurs with Acronis Secure Zone as warned in the TI8 user manual. (THIS WARNING IS TOO SMALL AND TOO VAGUE.)

    2) No deletion of the Dell pc restore program that resides on the C partition.

    If you inadvertently modify the mbr with something like Acronis Secure Zone or Partition Magic, etc. you will lose the functionality of the Dell pc restore partition.

    And, if you reformat the C partition or otherwise delete the Dell pc restore program (listed under add/remove programs in control panels) you will lose functionality of Dell pc restore. Ctl+F11 will no longer work.

    You cannot restore it to functionality by fixing the mbr. Once it's dead, forget it. Even if the restore partition is still present on the hard drive, it will never work again.

    That's why it's so important to clone or create an image of your hard drive and store it safely somewhere other than on the hard drive you want to protect. That's the only way you're going to be able to restore the functionality of the Dell pc restore partition if your drive is corrupted or fails.

    I think Acronis should place a more obvious warning about mbr modification in the user's manual with specific reference to manufacturers' hidden partitions such as Dell. It doesn't do much good to bury it in tiny type in a footnote as it is now. It's too hard to notice in the heat of desire to put TI8 to work when you first get it.
     
  18. Menorcaman

    Menorcaman Retired Moderator

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    Hello Søul,

    Before uninstalling TI, delete the SZ using the Manage Acronis Secure Zone Wizard. Your drive should then revert to a "standard" MBR.

    I agree and have already suggested a couple times before that Acronis should consider changing the default selection in the Create SZ Wizard.

    Regards
     
  19. beenthereb4

    beenthereb4 Registered Member

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    This is how to restore Control-F11 functionality --- do not even read this (let alone attempt it) unless you consider yourself a computer expert.

    Original thread

     
  20. controler

    controler Guest

    This is similar to what Compaq did in the old days.
    Instead of using a BIOS chip in on the motherboard, they created a partition on the first 8 meg of the hard drive to enter BIOS setting.
    One thing they did do however is allow you to download a file to floopy which would restore the partition. After that you could use FDISK to create another partition and were good to go.

    I think it is really a stupid idea to create any extra partitions on a hard drive by computer manufacturers.

    So the two really dumb things Dell did was include spyware on their new PC's
    and creat a proprietory partion on their computers.

    Bruce
     
  21. S?ul

    S?ul Registered Member

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    beenthereb4 - ACK!! I read it! Fortunately I didn't understand half of it so I think I'll be ok. My brain hasn't exploded yet anyway. :eek:


    Menorcaman - Thanks for the info. I would of just clicked on uninstal if you hadn't written back. I really appreciate it. :cool:
     
  22. Caleb2016

    Caleb2016 Guest

    Briefly read this post, and noticed that you were having the same problem with the ctrl +F11 problem I was having. I restored the MBR and Dell's feature would not work. Here is what I found to manually restore the computer.

    http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/recover.htm
     
  23. eoren

    eoren Registered Member

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    Hey,
    I just got the Dimension 8400 and imaged the entire drive with TI8. Seemed to work fine...
    I then formatted the drive, did a clean install of XP and installed partition magic hoping to see the "hidden partition" and decide whether or not to delete it. I cannot see it though.
    How do I access the "hidden partition" and delete it? Is there any reason not to delete it? I have a 250gb drive with only 130 free because of this thing and I can't imagine a scenario where I would restore from there (with all of Dell's built in crap) rather than from an image or from a clean install.
    Thanks a lot,
    E
     
  24. Acronis Support

    Acronis Support Acronis Support Staff

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    Hello eoren,

    Thank you for choosing Acronis Disk Backup Software.

    Could you please create Acronis Report in the way described at Acronis Help Post and send it to support@acronis.com along with the link to this thread? This will allow us to see whether you have the hidden partition or not. Please note that we cannot give you any information about the proformance of Partition Magic because it wasn't developed by Acronis. We can offer you our powerful tool for partition and disk management called Acronis Disk Director. It will certainly see all your partitions and allow you to manage them in the way you need.

    Thank you.
    --
    Ilya Toytman
     
  25. anettis

    anettis Registered Member

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    I actually just got a new DELL laptop - XPG GEN 2. For whatever reason it did not come with the restore (CNTL-F11) partition but it did come with the diagnostics partition. However I had planned on nuking the DELL restore partition since it takes up significant space and contains all sorts of DELL bloatware that I would never want in the first place. With a product like TI I don't really see why anyone would want to keep the DELL restore partition on their HD. The strength of TI lies in its ablity to craete a restore image configured to your exact specifications i.e. will all your software installed, configured, registered, etc. Thus I don't understand why anyone would want to keep the DELL restore partition image when they have access to a product like TI? The only thing I can think of is perhaps if they are selling their computer and would like it restored to a "like new" configuration. But even if this were the case I would rather create an image via TI to be stored on an external drive or DVD - rather than take up precious space on the notebook's primary HD. Am I missing something?

    PS By the way I am extremely impressed by the power and ease of use of TI. Now that I have used it I would never want to be without such a product going forward.
     
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