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How do I reformat the hard drive of a pointsec laptop?

Posted on 2008-06-26
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Last Modified: 2008-07-03
My previous employers gave me an HP laptop when I left the company about 9 months ago. I would like to reformat the laptop using windows xp for my daughter who is of age now to start basic internet access. However the laptop has pointsec software builtin which does not let me detect the hard drive when I load the xp disk. Is there anyway i can achieve this?

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:smbtnt
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agriesser earned 200 total points
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Is it possible to remove the harddrive from this laptop?
Have you tried booting with a Linux live cd like grml (http://www.grml.org) or knoppix (http://www.knoppix.com/)?
Usually, linux utilities are able to reformat such harddrives resp. remove all the data on this disk by destroying the partition table, etc.
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by:Rich Rumble
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You should be able to reformat from the install, if not you could try other bootable CD's that might help. Failing that, you may need one of these: http://www.rosewill.com/product/product.aspx?productId=903 and use a second PC to initialize the drive again. A linux boot disc might be able to do that.
BartPE should be able to do this: http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/#start
-rich
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by:smbtnt
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agriesser,
I have not tried removing the hardrive and am not comfortable doing so, is this the only option?
I will try the grml/knoppix opton 1st.
richrumble,
it does not let me format during instal, states that no drves detected, I assume the adapter is to plug into a desktop pc via usb and then formatting through there? As i said earlier i do not feel comfortable removing the HD.
What is bartpe? how will this assist me?
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by:agriesser
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Currently I don't know if pulling the harddisk out is the only option, but I think using grml should do fine. I don't know the security solution that's installed on your system, but I don't think that it
a) modified your system's BIOD
b) flashed a new firmware to your drive
c) put a password or something like that on your IDE controller

That said, booting bartpe or grml you should get at least access access to the physical device (the harddisk) itself and using grml you can then simply overwrite all the stuff on this disk with zeros.

If it's the only disk in your laptop and you need all the data on it erased, you can run the following command from the grml console prompt:
# Write hundred megabytes of zeros to the disk, removing all the data 

# and the partion table
 

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1M count=100

Open in new window

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by:smbtnt
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Ok, I am Downloading grml 1.1 iso and will try booting via cd. Hope I can see the drive. Will keep you updated.
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by:Rich Rumble
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BartPe is a boot disc, based on windows rather than linux. Removing a LT drive isn't very tough typically, two screws to the HD cover, and maybe a screw or two inside, most these days are held in with some kind of pressure clip.  The USB adapater is for removing the HD.
PointSec encrypts the HD, so you probably won't be able to access the data on the HD, unless it was decrypted before it was given to you, which it doesn't sound like it was. However, I use pointsec software myself, and my HD's are recognized from the xp install and I am able to reformat, you may have a bigger issue on your hands that the Hd being encrypted, the HD may be bad.
-rich
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by:agriesser
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Are you familiar with linux? The drive should be called /dev/hda if it's the primarY master on the IDE bus, /dev/sda if it's S-ATA.
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by:smbtnt
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No i am not familiar with linux, booting with grml and the screen has stalled at
/bin/sh: cant access tty: job control truned off
(initramfs)
what now?
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by:agriesser
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argh, that shouldn't happen.
Try to boot without ACPI settings (there should be an option in the bootloader to disable ACPI and/or local APIC).
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by:smbtnt
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booting the laptop now and i am not getting the pointsec screen but just 1234F:
I am now running HDD self test in bios, will let you know of the outcome.
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by:agriesser
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So you were able to boot from grml and issued the command above? Great, now boot again into grml and start a tool called 'cfdisk'.

Using this tool you can create a new partition table and save it to disk.

Now the XP installer should work and let you format your partition with NTFS.
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by:smbtnt
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The harddrive test was successful, the grml cd keeps crashing the laptop, i have now used knoppix instead.
Which utility should i use in knoppix to recreate partition?
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by:agriesser
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Have you issued the `dd ...` command from above already?
If not, you need to do this first.

If already done, you can use `cfdisk` on knoppix too (should be available).
If `cfdisk` is not available, try `sfdisk` or `fdisk` as well as `parted`.
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by:Mark
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Pointsec is not an easy software to work around. It would be much better to uninstall it, but that requires the 2 authentication passwords which you probably don't have, as you are 9 months out from the job.
If all else fails, it isn't very hard to remove the hard drive if needed.
Here is a link to the HP media guides which show a video how to perform this.
Just click on the hard disk drive link on the left.
http://h20181.www2.hp.com/plmcontent/NACSC/SML/results.htm?SID=1847703&MEID=6A14EBB2-F3D2-4E48-ABD7-C128C66D44F6
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by:agriesser
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I don't know pointsec, but with reformatting the whole disk you should be able to delete it, shouldn't you?
After all, it's just a software and software gets saved on a drive. If I erase/replace the drive, this software is gone, right?
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by:smbtnt
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the good news is that i was able to recreate a partition using fdisk, the bad news is the error of drive not detected is persistent. I will sleep on this and come back tomorrow.
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by:agriesser
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Could it be that this is simply some uncommom IDE/SATA controller that's not included in the default XP installation?
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by:Mark
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The author mentions that Pointsec is causing the hard drive not to be seen but there is an SATA hard drive in this laptop according to the specs, so XP may not be seeing it due to this.
That can be alleviated by disabling  the sata native mode in the BIOS setup.

To start Computer Setup, follow these steps:
1. Turn on or restart the computer.
2. Before Windows® opens and while the F10=ROM Based Setup message is displayed in the
lower-left corner of the screen, press f10.

Navigate to the System configuration tab--> scroll to the Device Configuration and enter it. In here look for Native SATA and disable it. Press F10 to accept, Then click on the FILE tab and Save Changes and Exit.

This should allow XP to see the hard drive during install.
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by:Rich Rumble
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Again, and I've just verified, running the latest pointsec product anyway, that I can see and reformat the encrypted HD's in a LT using the XP install cd, and BartPE disk. There maybe another problem with the hardware of the LT or the HD itself. The XP cd does not see the partition, nor a file format, but does know how big the drive is.
-rich
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by:Mark
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@richrumble-->Are you using an SATA or IDE drive
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by:agriesser
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I think that doesn't matter in this case, because richrumble seems to be more experienced than the author and maybe even has a XP install CD with S-ATA drivers included or something like this.

I do now definetly think that the authors problem is the lack of proper S-ATA drivers in the XP CD.
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by:Rich Rumble
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it could be drivers... I'm using Xp sp2 cd-rom, dell/intel LT's. I don't have an HP to compare. Hitting F6 when the XP install starts to boot (and it says "hit f6 if you have 3rd party drivers"...)and having the drivers on a floppy or another CD-rom might help.
-rich
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by:agriesser
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AFAIK, XP doesn't support drivers on CD-Roms during the installation process, or does it? If so, I'd be very happy if someone could tell me how to do that. It's hard to find a floppy drive nowadays...
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by:smbtnt
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update - disabling sata in bios and running xp has finally recognised the HD, thanks to agriesser, richrumble and sparkmaker.
Now I will try to get my hands on xp sp2.

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by:Mark
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You can slipstream the SATA drivers and SP2 onto an XP installation disk for any chipset that requires them.
http://www.maximumpc.com/article/How-To--Slipstream-your-XP-installation
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by:smbtnt
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I am using nlite to integrate drivers onto my win xp cd. However the driver is an exe installation, how do i extract the inf driver? any ideas?
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by:smbtnt
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by:Rich Rumble
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7zip is a great program that can sometimes extract MSI/EXE packages as well as being a free and impressive compression tool: http://www.7-zip.org/download.html just an FYI.
-rich
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