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Restoring Hidden Factory Recovery Partitions - Can it be done?


dvn
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Does anyone know if WHS can restore those OEM backup partitions which are typically hidden, as in no drive letter? These would be the partitions used for performing factory restores and are initiated during the boot process by pressing the F10 or F11 key.

I do know that WHS can back up these partitions because I've opened a hidden partition backup in WHS Console and seen all the pretty files and folders. But PC Restore doesn't seem to provide a way to write one of these hidden partition back to a PC's hard drive.

I ran into this as I was testing to see whether I'd be able to complete a PC Restore on my Acer Revo, before I blew it away with a 30-day WHS trial. I had gotten to the page where you'd match up the backups with the correct partitions, but there was no place to restore a hidden partition backup to because the partition on the disk is hidden. I thought I'd try assigning a drive letter to it using Disk Management, but there were no options available whatsoever for this hidden partition, which was an EISA type.

The thought comes to mind that I might have been able to get around this if I had nuked (as in Darik's Boot and Nuke - DBAN) the drive, then ran PC Restore. But this seems like a lot of trouble, and I'm not sure it would have worked.

Thoughts?

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Never tried it on WHS restore but restoring those partitions have been a bit problematic on other backup software such as ghost.

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I ended up using Acronis True Image Home 2010 to back up the Revo to WHS. I was then able to blast everything back onto the drive after a failed WHS 30-day trial installation, which may be the topic of another thread if I can't solve that at some point. Anyways, I'm impressed with Acronis, though I've yet to test the factory restore function to be sure it really worked.

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dvn,

Yes WHS can and does restore the hidden restore partitions that the OEMs us. My netbook has that hidden restore partition and WHS has restored this system many times. As long as you have that hidden partition configured to be backed up in WHS and you choose it when you do a restore they will be restored.

fasthair

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@fasthair - I should preface this by saying that I believe you when you say you've done it. I just don't know how you did it because I've done a number of restores and never had this problem. Anyways...

Well, that's interesting because I had hidden partitions chosen to be backed up, saw they were backed up as I previously mentioned, yet saw no way to restore them even though I could see, while running PC Restore, that they were available.

The problem, as far as I can tell, is that PC restore doesn't detect the hidden partition on the HDD side (not talking about Disk Management, but the actual PC Restore program). PC Restore sees the hidden partition on the WHS backup side, but not on the actual disk I'm restoring to. In other words, I have 3 partitions on the drive I was checking to be restored: System Reserved, OS, and hidden. Only two, System Reserved and OS, show up even though all three are listed in the drop down boxes as available from WHS.

Maybe I should take a photo of the screen to make this more understandable. I'll borrow the gf's camera and do this later.

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I always wondered the same thing, but have never tried it. I know Acronis will do this, since I have done it many times with that. Maybe i will try a blank HD and have it restore to it and verify that it puts all the partitions including the hidden ones back onto the disk.

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The following shows a partition called PQSERVICE as an available source volume. You can see there is no matching destination, nothing that matches the size. You can also see that the C: Acer source matches up with the D: Acer destination.
a>

I right-clicked on the 18.00 GB EISA Configuration partition and that tiny context menu with the word 'Help' written in there is all I see. No option to delete, add drive letter...nothing but 'Help'.
a>

By comparison, right-clicking on the system partition brings up all kinds of options.
a>

I can also tell you that this EISA partition is also protected in Windows. Right-clicking on the volume in Disk Management once again yields only 'Help'. I suspect the only way to delete this is during an OS installation or with a wipe utility such as DBAN.

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I don't really have any experience restoring those partitions, and you know honestly I never thought twice about losing them or even just wiping them. I believe in most cases that partition is there for the sole purpose of getting you back online in the case that your OS gets corrupted. It is not designed to store data or be modified in any way, so it does not really need to be backed up regularly.

So back to the point, if you are going to use WHS to restore your PC anyway, it probably doesn't matter whether that partition is there or not. In any case, I believe although WHS will not restore that partition, neither will it delete it. It will just stay there as an unused, unknown partition until such time as the disk itself goes bad and needs replacement. At that point, if you really want that partition, you can reinstall from the recovery media, then do a WHS restore over the top of that.

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