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Hidden Partition

Posted on 2003-11-03
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
I have a new thinkpad laptop. It has 20 GB HD. that for sure!

But strangly I see only 16GB!

I open PQ Partition magic and it reports that this computer hd capacity is only 16 gb.

Working in dos mode, fdisk, aida32 or any other tools don't help! Just 16GB!

BUT the true is that it is 20GB disk, since the serial no. of the disk says so, and since one can restore his formated 16GB partition  to factory state (from the hidden partition.)

So how do they do it?? and how can I implement a totaly hidden partition in my PC as IBM does?? Can I install winxp on it??
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Question by:zolpo
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26 Comments
 
LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:Huseyin1
ID: 9670076
Hi

Factorys can hide and change the size of a HDD by using internal jumpers by taking the HDD apart, which obviously we cant ajust.

Some times this is done in order to RE-USE HDD that have bad sectors on them, so the factory people disable (lock off) this section from broken HDD that have been sent back to the manurfacturer as a swap for a new one.

I had a HDD swap out for a client and we got a 20gig HDD which used to be a 40gig HDD. The 40 gig was covered up by a white sticker.

H
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 9670169
>>It has 20 GB HD. that for sure!

How do you KNOW?

What is the MAKE and MODEL of this drive.  I think you're incorrect about this being a 20GB drive.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 9670342
Huseyin1,

BTW, I've seen that "trick" also.  Generally these are REFURB drives.  They were refurbished by the manufacturer and have had their "guts" swapped out.  Since most drives are designed/built in families they may take the "body" of a 40GB and put the "guts" of a 20GB in a refurbishment.

But I've never seen a drive MARKED as one size that really was a different size.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9670394
Jhance, It is 20GB for sure! I dont have the laptop here but aida32 gave me the model and a simple search in the Internet says it is a 20GB!!!

Don't forget please that after I have deleted the 16GB and create a clean partition (using PQ Partition Magic 8.0) I restored it to factory state using IBM's buildin menu.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 9670456
Again, the VENDOR and MODEL #!!!!  I guess it's really easy for you to keep saying "20GB for sure" but if you can't produce the make/model you're just blowing smoke.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9670534
I will take in a few hours the computer and post here exactly what aida32 says.

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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 9670544
Forget what AIDA32 says.  LOOK at the unit and get it's MAKE/MODEL NUMBER.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9670658
Ok Ok Ok............

I will take the HD in my hands and post here what the lable says. just give me the time.......

BTW why you are ignoring the fact that it has some partition there containing gigas of IBM's apps, winxp setup files, drives and more THIS IS A FACT
it has 16GB pure and clean partition + restore partition.
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:rabi9634
ID: 9670727
I'm confused, are you saying you have a 20 gig hd that you only get to see 16, but know for a fact the other hidden 4 still exist bc they contain all of IBM's program apps?

If that's the case, I don't know what to tell you.  I've seen drives where the factory installation is backed up on a second partition, but never a case where that backup partition was hidden from the user.

I would assume you could install XP on it w/out any problem, but no guaruntee that it would give u the entire 20 gigs.  It would probably leave the 4 gig from IBM alone and work in the partition you see available to you.

My advice to you would be to contact IBM and ask them.  
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LVL 16

Accepted Solution

by:
Kyle Schroeder earned 2000 total points
ID: 9670753
>> IBM's buildin menu
well that is where your other ~4GB has gone (actually its less than that, as "20GB" is a bit off; you'll format to ~18GB if you get all the space back as that 20GB is 20,000,000,000 bytes, but a "true" GB that the OS sees is 1,024,000,000 bytes.)

To get the missing space back, you need to remove that hidden partition.  Of course if you do that you won't be able to use the IBM restore function to reload your OS unless they gave you several CDs also).

Partition magic *should* be able to remove the partition.  If not, then a function typically called "Low level format" can remove all parititon information from the disk and allow you to utilize all your space (again you'll need to have another installation mechanism in place to restore your OS, as you'll be removing the IBM Restore partition).  If you have a reinstallation method (WinXP CD-ROM, etc) then go to http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm and download the Hitachi (formerly IBM's) Drive Fitness Test which contains a function to "wipe" the drive.

-dog*
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LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:Huseyin1
ID: 9670910
hello again, go into FDISK and then hit option 4, and tell us what it says, you shopuld see all partitions, and using NTFS (from XP) will use the HDD to it's full optimization.

H
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9671026
Dear dogztar.

So you know IBM's habit....
Now back to my original question: How can they (and me too) implement such a super secret partition.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9671194
Huseyin1 and other good experts

The laptop will be under my hands in less than 24 hours, please stay in touch!

(I am sorry not having the lap while I am asking, I thought it is a known issue)
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 9671527
I guess another question is why do you want to do this?  If the partition is hidden, you won't be able to run XP from it.  Partition Magic can make hidden partitions, but I really don't see the benefit (other than hiding data in one OS from another).  In any case, 2000/XP can see and assign drive letters to these partitions.  My IBM at work had the "hidden" recovery partition, you can use DiskMGMT.MSC (start/run/diskmgmt.msc) to assign a drive letter and mount the drive in My Computer.  There's not much to see though; the files are all in some strange compressed format.

-dog*
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9672268
Hi dogztar.

a REAL hidden partition can be very usefull.

Me too as IBM, would like to hide the recovery data from my users (BUT, that I can do simply with any partition tool).

Also, some of my clients wants to hide them Internet trails (movies pictures favorits chat etc) from them kids. To implement that I will need to TOTALY hide them partition as IBM does. OR to lock them partition with permissions and passwords so even a clever boy will fail to break in. (I think, I will post another question for that)
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:1175089
ID: 9672695
Do not delete hidden partition (if you have ), usually it contain system and diagnostic utilities and system recovery disks (utility) rely on it to return the system to working mode.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 9672814
>>Also, some of my clients wants to hide them Internet trails (movies pictures favorits chat etc) from them kids.
Well, no need to start making hidden partitions for that, especially with the difficult steps that would require the user to jump through, why not just format the drive as NTFS and correctly configure NTFS permissions for the drive?  As long as the parent logs out, the kid can't get into their files.

As far as storing recovery data...even with a "hidden" partition, Win2K/XP disk management can still see it (as I stated above) so it wouldn't really be all that hidden.  Are you talking about making a small (~4GB or so) partition on the drive, putting the client's restore files (i.e. Ghost image) then hiding it?  That's doable, and you can even configure your restore disk to go directly to there using the src= and dst= commands on the Ghost command line.  Just make it a regular partition, then before delivering the PC to the user, remove the drive letter assignment with Disk Management.

This is all of course assuming you're using XP or 2000, on Win98 that is another matter (but please tell me you're not deploying Win98/ME!)

-dog*
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9673077
1175089 thanks!

dogztar! You should reward 5,000 points not a mere 500. I like your style!!!

Though one can implement permissions and passes with NTFS, will it be secure enough? Can a paranoic parent sleep peacefully?

Thanks for your perls about recovering.


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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9673089
We are talking about XP Pro & home
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 9673458
Well, if the kid is really that determined, there are certainly ways around the NTFS permissions (using NTFS-DOS or a Linux distribution with a boot disk, but they would need someplace to write the files to, they couldn't do much with them from DOS mode).

Other than that, NTFS permissions are very secure as long as the parent's password is not known.  You just have to configure them properly.  One item of note...do not *DENY* the Everyone group permissions to a folder structure, as Everyone includes the Administrators group.  You can get around this, but its preferable to not get stuck by this problem in the first place.  By default in XP, all users can access all parts of the harddrive, so you'll need to set the properties on C:\Documents and Settings\<username> so that only Administrators and <username> have rights.  The child accounts should be standard User accounts.

-dog*
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:zolpo
ID: 9680323
OK I hope that everyone still listening.

Now at last the lap is under my hands. Here are the findings:

IADA===MODEL ID : IC25N020ATCS04-0 cylinders:34921, Heads:15, Sectors Per Track: 63, Bytes per sector:512
Unformated Capacity 16113!!!!!!!!!!

jhance: The HD is in my hands the label says: MODEL: IC25N020ATCS04-0    MAKE: Hitachi Global.

dogztr: DiskMGMT.MSC says: 15.73GB

Huseyin1: FDISK: Total disk space is 16109 Mbytes ( 1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)

ghost 16113 mb

Partition Magic 8.1: 16109MB

etc etc etc
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Expert Comment

by:blade_377
ID: 9685304
hmmm
i'm not entirely sure bout this
somebody tell me if i'm wrong/right
but i recckon that the memory that is taken off the hdd is used for the booting up of the laptop
not 100% sure, but my friend today said sumin bout "format mdr" in dos mode. which formats EVERYTHING from the computer
not recommended u do that!!
anyway jus thinkin, the memory used to boot up the computer mayb in the hidden partition/memory used to boot the comp up.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 9689144
blade_377: the command you mean is "fdisk /mbr" which just writes a new master boot record to the drive, it doesn't format anything.  It will however probably remove the IBM message that says "Press F11 for Setup" or whatever.  Its using a different boot manager of some sort (like LILO or GRUB from Linux) to generate that message, then if you don't choose anything it continues on.  The space on the HDD that is used by the hidden partition is for reinstalling the system to "factory default" (which of course wipes out any programs or data you've accumulated and should only be used as a last resort).

-dog*
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Expert Comment

by:blade_377
ID: 9692979
ahh k
wasn't so sure ^_^""
thx for correctin me-
=]
shows how much i knw bout computers -_""
0
 
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 9694205
Well, this is how you learn...now fdisk /mbr will probably stick with you and you'll know what it does.

-dog*
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