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Customize image on Recovery Manager partition on HP dv9500t

A few questions:
1) Whose technology is HP using to create the factory installed recovery image on the HP_RECOVER partition?
2) How can I replace the image(s) on that recovery partition so that my customized image will be restored instead?

With Regards-
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1 Solution
You can not replace the recovery partition unless you have the deployment kit from manufacturing. It involves many things (boot track, boot.ini, clone, bios, etc.).
SAbboushiAuthor Commented:
Thanks Punky - you seem to have some knowledge here - can you offer some more details please?  How do you know this?  And whose technology is it? And who is "manufacturing"?

1) The software used by HP for the recovery partition is Soft Thinks PC Angel  [http://www.softthinks.com/US/pc_angel.html], which is customized for use by HP.

2) I don't believe that there's a way (at least an easy way!) to extract the contents of the recovery image and customize it, so you will probably have to create one from scratch.  

Several disk imaging/cloning tools come to mind (Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, PC Angel).  I've only used Acronis True Image [http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/], so I will speak about it.  Other tools may contain similar or better functionality.  (Disclaimer:  I do not work for, or have any financial interest in, any of the companies mentioned in this post).

True Image lets you create a "Secure Zone," which is effectively just a hidden restore image partition.  Once installed and a Secure Zone is created, you can hit F11 (I believe) upon boot in order to load the software and recover your image.

Note: Unless you have a spare partition in which to place the restore image(s), you will need to create a new partition.  If you will be starting with a a fresh reinstallation of Windows (where you can create partitions at will), this is not a problem.  Otherwise, you will need to carve out a new partition by resizing an existing partition.  I will leave this as an exercise for the reader [good starting place -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_partition_utilities] to find a dynamic NTFS (or FAT32, if needed) partition resizing tool.  The last time I resized a partition, I believe that I booted from a Ubuntu Live CD that I had lying around and used it's disk tools.

After, and ONLY AFTER, you have created AND TESTED your restore partition should you delete the factory-installed recovery partition.  (this is just to ensure that if you screw up, all is not lost).  You can delete the recovery partition by going to Start > Run > diskmgmt.msc

Note, that the original "Hit F10 to start the recovery manager" (or similar) text that is displayed while booting up will still probably remain as a remnant of the old recovery PC Angel software.  Not sure off-hand how to remove that.

Hope at least some of this makes sense.

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SAbboushiAuthor Commented:
Thanks typicaluser - Are you saying that trueimage will somehow configure the F11 (or other) button to launch a restore from the safezone?
Yes.  Unfortunately, I have never used it in this manner, so I cannot speak from experience (sorry).  In my case, I have 2 recovery images (one Windows XP, one Windows Vista) on a partition.  To recover one of them, I simply boot from a bootable CD that I created through True Image.  I have never tried to use the Startup Recovery Manager yet (actually, I just learned about this feature).  But read on...

From the manual [http://us2.download.acronis.com/pdf/TrueImage11_ug.en.pdf],
-----SNIP----- (pg 16)

3.4.2 How to use

To be able to use Acronis Startup Recovery Manager at boot time, prepare as follows:
  1. Install Acronis True Image Home.
  2. Create Acronis Secure Zone on the hard disk
      (see Chapter 10. Managing Acronis Secure Zone).
  3. Activate Acronis Startup Recovery Manager. To do so,
      click Activate Acronis Startup Recovery Manager and
      follow the wizards instructions.

If you try to activate Acronis Startup Recovery Manager before you created an Acronis
Secure Zone, you will be prompted to create the zone; then the Acronis Startup Recovery
Manager will be activated. If the Acronis Secure Zone already exists, the Acronis Startup
Recovery Manager will be activated immediately.

When Acronis Startup Recovery Manager is activated, it overwrites the master boot record
(MBR) with its own boot code. If you have any third-party boot managers installed, you will
have to reactivate them after activating the Startup Recovery Manager. For Linux loaders
(e.g. LiLo and GRUB), you might consider installing them to a Linux root (or boot) partition
boot record instead of MBR before activating Acronis Startup Recovery Manager.

If a failure occurs, turn on the computer and press F11 when you see the "Press F11 for
Acronis Startup Recovery Manager" message. This will run a standalone version of Acronis
True Image Home that differs only slightly from the complete version. For information on
restoring damaged partitions, see Chapter 6. Restoring the backup data.

Be careful! Drive letters in standalone Acronis True Image Home might sometimes differ
from the way Windows identifies drives. For example, the D: drive identified in the
standalone Acronis True Image Home might correspond to the E: drive in Windows.

-----END SNIP-----

For what it's worth, I'm actually planning on implementing exactly what you want to do in a few days (which is how I stumbled upon your question).  My goal is to backup my data from my HP dv6225us laptop, re-image it using the factory-installed image, customize the machine the way I like it (including all of the latest service packs and applications), then make a new image with True Image as described in my previous post...and also get the F11 thing to work.  Once all that is done, I'll re-image the machine based on MY image as a test.  And assuming all goes well, I'll probably remove the HP RECOVER partition.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.
SAbboushiAuthor Commented:
>> When Acronis Startup Recovery Manager is activated, it overwrites the master boot record
(MBR) with its own boot code.

That's what I suspected.  I have Vista Ultimate 64-bit which I believe already modifies the MBR for bitlocker encryption and I am not sure what else.

I would be interested in how your solution works out.  My approach:  I have a RESTORE partition with the latest Ghost Image of my system partition (I keep all my data / desktop / favorites / start menu on a separate partition).  I have an 800mb DOS partition and I have set up the OS (XP / Vista) to offer me various boot options which I display for only 1 second.  This allows me to boot into the DOS partition and restore the ghost image (automatically if I want), or to do other maintenance.

I would love to know what bytes of the MBR to modify to respond to a function key press and reroute the bootup to a specified partition - I doubt it requires many bytes of code to do that.

And I would love to hear how it goes with your implementation.

With Regards-
SAbboushiAuthor Commented:
Guess this has been open long enough
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