How to preserve Dell Recovery Partition when replacing hard drive - Microsoft OS Forum - Software & Operating Systems - Dell Community

How to preserve Dell Recovery Partition when replacing hard drive

Software & Operating Systems

Software & Operating Systems
Microsoft, Linux, Productivity software, discussion

How to preserve Dell Recovery Partition when replacing hard drive

  • I'd like to replace the original hard drive and transfer the Dell recovery partition to the new hard drive using Ghost. Or, alternatively, make the new hard drive to have the Dell's factory shipped state. Could not find the clear answer yet.


    My current system is a brand new Optiplex 755 with Windows Vista 64-bit on a SATA drive. There are 3 partitions: DellDiagnostic 78Mb, Recovery 2Gb, and OS 280 Gb. Unlike everything I read in these forums, my recovery partition does not sem to have any *.wim or *.gho files or the imagex.exe utility in the Tools folder. It looks more like a 1 Gb set of the Vista folders and files, possibly compressed, with a 1 Gb of free space.


    I successfully ghosted the original hard drive using Ghost 8.3.  I selected the Ghost option to include in the image everything but the free sapce.
    Then I disabled the original hard drive and made the new hard drive SATA #0 on the motherboard, just like the original drive was.
    I restored the image on the new hard drive. However, it does not boot the OS, but keeps restarting in a loop. Pressing F8 or Ctrl+F11 does not help.


    How do I boot into the restored Recovery partition on the new drive and execute its Dell recovery procedure? At least, how do I boot into the OS partition and break out of the restarting loop?
    I'm comfortable using the low level hdd utilities if needed.


    Please share your experience!

    Message Edited by SCADATech on 08-08-2008 12:59 PM
    Message Edited by SCADATech on 08-08-2008 12:59 PM
  • I use Acronis True Image for my hard drive backups.  I backup the entire hard drive ("C" partition and also both Dell recovery and diagnostic partitions).   I've had to do a complete reinstall and it rebuilt the entire drive without problems.


    I cloned the hard drive to a new (bigger) hard drive and it cloned everything but with Vista I had to use the Recovery Console to fix the drive so it would boot.  The Norton Ghost may be the same way. 

    I am not a Dell Employee

    Dell forum member since 2002

    Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

    Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS Z170, i7 6700K CPU,  Windows 10 64 bit Pro. SSD drive.  Studio One 3 Recordng Studio Software.

    Dell SE2717HR 27" Monitor


    Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

  • Did you include the boot record in the captured image?


    Also, what happens if you keep pressing F8 before Vista boots? Do you see the Recovery boot option showing up?
    Did you check if it actually functions on the new drive? I'm sure it's safe to try because there will be an option to cancel before the restoration begins.



  • Don't bother because there is no PC restore on your machine. It's just junk in the recovery partition (only has WinRE)


    I used Ghost 11.5 to backup the factory image, if something went wrong I just restore the factory image.


    Make sure the SATA operation in the BIOS was not changed (if you went from AHCI to ATA or vice versa, it will do a restarting loop)

  • Can anybody tell me if Microsoft One Care does the same thing a Ghost. Thanks

    If my answer Was helpful?  Please let me know by clicking on the 'Did this answer your question' and clicking on the Yes button.  Thanks.



  • I have One Care and looking at the help file for backup, it does not do what Ghost or Acronis True Image will do.


    I am not a Dell Employee

    Dell forum member since 2002

    Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

    Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS Z170, i7 6700K CPU,  Windows 10 64 bit Pro. SSD drive.  Studio One 3 Recordng Studio Software.

    Dell SE2717HR 27" Monitor


    Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

  • Acronis True Image 11 is AMAZING at backing up and cloning.  The Dell Factory Image Restore utility (F8) WILL work on drives backed-up or cloned with Acronis.  If you clone or run a full system backup (fat/diagnostics, C: OS, D: RECOVERY) the C: OS system works fine on the cloned drive.  You may have to use the Vista disk and Startup Repair for the first restart.  Although the Dell Factory Image Restore process does work on the cloned drive, what I have found is that two things do not work correctly on the restored image from the cloned drive: 1) under System Restore the "old" C: OS is check-boxed but shown as "missing" and the "new" C: OS is unchecked and you cannot use System Restore until you check the box, and 2) the Windows memory diagnostics tool (memtest.exe) will not work, returning an error that memtest.exe is corrupt or missing.


    Acronis support has dilligently worked with me on this from January through about May of 2008.  They have sent me software to take snapshots of my system and send to them for analysis and they have sent me different versions of True Image to try the cloning process.  I even went as far as buying another 1GB hard drive to try their suggestion of a sector-by-sector backup.  In the end, Acronis admitted:

    We would like to inform you that HPA is a hidden area of a hard drive that is
    not normally visible to an operating system. The information about HPA
    parameters is stored in a special firmware chip of a hard drive. Acronis True
    Image 11 Home cannot copy HPA to another hard drive, but the product does copy
    the information about HPA settings stored in MBR (while actually copying MBR
    itself). In such cases HPA is activated during the first boot requesting the
    Windows Vista Startup Repair.


    I believe this addresses the issue of needing startup repair and maybe even the memtest.exe issue (i.e. memtest ain't gonna work).


    So why go to all this trouble working with the Dell Factory Image Restore utility when Acronis will correctly backup or clone the operating system in the first place?  Good question.  Well, at first I thought that if memtest.exe didn't work, what else may not be working?  But after using my new Dell systems (I've done this on all 4) for the past 8 months or so, I feel that Windows memtest is the only outstanding issue.  And besides, the memory diagnostics in the diagnostics partition does work, as well as third party memory testers.


    Besides this issue with remounting the factory image from a cloned drive, which is really beyond the scope of disk cloning software, Acronis is the best $40 I have ever spent on software.  The features are very handy and one of the best features is making a full system backup and then schedule incremental backups weekly or monthly or whenever.  If your system goes sour or is infected you can quickly and easily go right back to one of your prior dates.  Similar to Vista Ultimate but taking less disk space since you use the base full-backup and add one of your (much smaller) incrementals.  At normal compression, the backup image is about 50-60% of the size of the actual operating system.  Their support is excellent and once registered, you can re-download the program as many times as you want, including updates.  Same goes for Acronis Disk Director Suite (I don't work for


    I realize the original question was about Vista 64 on a Dell Optiplex, which apparently does not have a factory.wim and d:tools\ recovery setup.  However, I am cusious whether anyone has remounted the factory.wim on an Acronis-cloned drive and experienced the two issues I have been working on with Acronis.
    p.s. I write too much....LOL


    XPS 420, Q6600, 4GB, 500x2, Radeon HD2600XT, Bluetooth, eSATA, Ultimate SP1
    XPS 420, Q6700, 4GB, 750GB x 2 (RAID 0), GeForce 8800 GT, Xcellerator, Bluetooth, eSATA, Ultimate SP1
    XPS M1330, 2.2GHz, 4GB, 200GB (7200), SP1
    XPS M1330, 2.0GHz, 4GB, 320GB, Vista Ultimate SP1 & XP Pro SP3


    XPS 420, Q6600, 4GB, 500 GB, WIndows 7 x64 RTM Ultimate

    XPS 420, Q6700, 8GB G.Skill 1.9v, OCZ Vertex 30GB x2 (RAID0), Windows 7 x64 RTM Ultimate

    XPS M1330, 2.4 GHz, 4GB, 60 GB OCZ Vertex, Windows 7 x64 RTM Ultimate

    XPS M1330, 2.4 GHz, 4GB, 320GB, Quad Boot: XP Pro x64, Vista x64 Ultimate, Ubuntu, Media Direct

    Mini 9, 1.6 GHz, 2 GB, BT, 1.3MP Webcam, 32 GB Runcore, Windows 7 x86 RTM Ultimate

    Mini 10, long gone and good riddance

    Mini 10v,  1.6 GHz, 2 GB, Dual Boot XP & Windows 7 x86 RTM Ultimate

  • I've had 2 Dell laptops in recently for data recovery and have managed to recover the data. There was no corruption on either until well past the DSR partition.

    Did the recovery on a linux box using GNU ddrescue to clone the data to a new hard drive - same size. Copied the users' data elsewhere and attempted to restore both machines using CTRL-F11. No dice. So I break out the windows AIK and restore the factory.wim from the recovery partition.

    Upon booting the machine - the recovery partition has to be the active partition for the machine to startup normally - I get a prompt to update Dell Local Backup. DON'T - it just screws up your boot volume!!!

    This happened once and I had to re-imagex and uninstall Dell Local backup. Tried desperately to get the recovery partition to work. Not a chance! So I deleted it recovery partition - which means fixboot and fixmbr again after setting the OS partition active. Now I just sell them Acronis and give them the Factory.wim on a DVD with an autoexec.bat to  imagex the image just in case.

    Of course no-one ever really ever creates their disaster recovery CDs. Dell are saving money by distributing this way and I'm having to charge their customers more for all this faffing about.

    Moreover the customer doesn't understand why they don't have an option to repair windows anymore.

    If anyone has ever got this to work - do let me know.


  • I know it's an old thread but Google comes here!

  • Stop faffing about and read this about restoring access to Dell's PC Restore partiton on WinXP systems.

    Obviously, if you've already deleted the partition, you're beyond recovery. Stick out tongue

    If this answers your question, please click  Yes


    Forum Member since 2004

    I am NOT a Dell employee

  • It's Windows 7! But this thread comes top for google: preserve dell system recovery partition new hard drive

    Stick out tongue right back at ya!

  • What if I copied that partition to a DVD before I wiped it out? Can I now create a new partition, copy it to there from the DVD, make it hidden and bootable as it was before using CTRL F-11? Do you think it'd work? FYI my MBR and partition table got all screwed up thanks to Partition Magic and I had to wipe the entire HD and reinstall from the Dell CDs after fixing the MBR and partition table, but I copied the PC Restore partition using the Paragon software before doing so and would use that to do the partitioning and restoration now. Think it'd work?

  • Oh jeez.... nevermind. I'm reading up on it now and see I'd need to reinstall Media Direct  and make it HPA, blah blah blah. This might be more work that it's worth just to get the PC Restore partition back and usable. Especially since I don't have Ghost 10. :-/

  • @RoHe - you know I've just got an XP machine in so I'll give that a go. Thanks

  • If you have seagate hard drive you can download disc wizard from seagate website which is a oem version of Acronis.  Also western digital has western digital version of Acronis TrueImage.  Both these software validate that you have the respective drive.  You will be able to make bootable disc which can be used to clone, backup, and restore.

    I was able to clone new vostro 3750 500 gb hard drive with windows 7 pro 64 bit onto separate backup drives 500 gb and 160 gb.  If compresses or expand the OS partition depending on the size of the hard drive.  Also it copied the dell backup and restore environment and recovery partition with the factory image file.  I tried and was successful in restoring the factory image either in windows with the dell backup and restore application or using F8 on boot to recovery partition.

    You can also shrink your OS partition using windows administrative tools.  Factory Restore after shrinking restore to the shrinked OS partitioin without effecting the new backup partition.