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Restoring Vista From A Recovery Partition To A New HD


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#1 deaningraham

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 04:21 PM

When it comes to reinstalling Vista, most of us will pull out that trusty Windows Vista Any Time Upgrade DVD or other OEM copy of Windows and simply use the key that originally came with the computer we are installing Windows on. But what happens when the product key is rubbed off, or the key you were able to pull from the drive (if you were able too) would not activate? Well most of us would finally resort to the recovery partition as long as the hard drive was not failing. However, if your a decent technician, you'll find that in most cases, reinstalling Windows is not necessary unless the hard drive is in fact failing. So the question is now, what do you do if the hard drive is failing, you have no product key, and you don't want to wait a week and or spend the money on the recovery disk?

The Answer to that question is this. Use the original recovery partition from the failing drive to recovery Windows unto a new drive. Now a disclaimer before I go on. I have only had to do this for XP and Vista and only on an HP. However, I assume that this will work for most Windows 7 recovery partitions, as well as many other manufacture recovery partitions, as the concept should relatively be the same. Also, this method will not work if you have an unreadable or unmountable drive and there are no guarantees that this will work on any failing hard drive. In other words, results may vary.

Back-up All Important Data First

In this particular case where I had to use this method, there was only 1 bad sector and a read error. Given that information, I know that the information is still intact on the hard drive, but that it could completely fail and any point of time. So back up all important information first before attempting anything thing else on the drive, especially if this is for a customer.


Cloning The Recovery Partition

You first want to begin by cloning the recovery partition onto the new drive. There are too many programs and utilities that will do this for you, as well as many forums with advice on how to use them, so I will only be describing the steps and utilities I used. Anyways, the best platform for doing any data recovery or cloning is of course Linux (you do have a Linux box don't you?) Depending on the flavor of Linux you have installed, there will be a number of utilities available to you for cloning partitions. I am particular fond of Ubuntu which comes with a great utility called Gparted. You can also run the utility from a disk or USB. Gparted is quite simple, you literally right click and copy the partition you want to copy and paste it onto the new drive (after making a partition table of course). Once you have successfully cloned that partition, your ready for the next step. If this process fails, you can try again, or you can try another utility. One that I hear works well is Clonezilla. Keep in mind, a failing drive is a failing drive, there is no way to predict if this will work the first or second time, you just simply have to try.


Activating the Recovery Partition

Credit goes to A Computer Guy

First get into the command prompt using a boot up disk and type diskpart at the prompt (you can find this under the repair options).

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At the DiskPart prompt, type in list disk. You will see the list of disk currently attached to your computer. Now type in select disk n, where n is the disk number. In my example, I would type select disk 0.

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Now that we have selected the correct disk, type in list partition to get a list of all the partitions on that disk. To select the partition we want to set as active, type in select partition n, where n is the partition number.

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Now that we have selected the disk and partition, we can mark it as active by just typing the word active and pressing Enter. That’s it! Now the partition is set.

Once you have completed the restoration it should automatically boot into the newly installed Windows installation. If not, then simply set that partition to active.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask and please post your success stories!


Dean

Edited by hamluis, 30 January 2011 - 06:51 AM.

Dean Ingraham
The PC Exchange

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#2 pachm

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 02:22 PM

nice tutorial i was wondering how to o this I want to install a ssd as my primary drive i have win7 will this process work with it as well?

#3 deaningraham

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 02:38 PM

This process should work just fine. Just make sure that your primary partition C: is the where you are installing the OS and not where the recovery partition is. In other words, make 2 partitions, the second partition should only be just large enough for the recovery partition to be copied over, and the first partition of course will be the remaining amount of space available.Otherwise, you may have to reassign the partitions to C: and D: appropriately or remove the recovery partition and expand the Windows installation to the entire drive. I should probably note all this in my instructions . . . let me know if you have any more questions or concerns and let me know how it works out.
Dean Ingraham
The PC Exchange

#4 pachm

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 04:06 PM

thanks ssd in the mail

#5 deaningraham

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 05:10 PM

It seems that I am unable to edit my original post, but I have a few additional tips to add.

First off, this method has been pretty hit and miss when it comes to failing hard drives. In the cases where gparted or similar cloning programs will not clone the drive due to errors, (like bad sectors) you will need a special utility that will ignore and or try and recover the bad sectors. A program that I use regularly is called GNU ddrescue for Linux. Again, if your a technician, and you don't have a linux box, you really need to get one. GNU ddrescue or gddrescue will both ignore errors and attempt to recover files from bad sectors. gddrescue will also allow you to clone entire drives as well as single partitions. As always, regardless of what tool you use, you should always back-up any information you do not want to lose before you begin cloning. Once you have finished cloning the drive or partition, you will probably need to run a chkdsk /r and a sfc /scannow in order to correct any issues carried over by the original drive, especially if there were bad sectors. Even though the new drive does not have any bad sectors, the new drive will have bad sectors marked on it till they have been corrected. After you have run chkdsk and sfc, you may have to do more trouble-shooting depending on the condition of the original drive. If all else fails, theres a good chance that the recovery partition is still good, and you can simply reinstall the OS from there.
Dean Ingraham
The PC Exchange




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