Lost Recovery Partition and more in reformat

Posted on 2009-02-08
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Have a new HP DC5800 desktop where I formatted the drive with Partition Magic 8.0 into 4 primary drives and decided I did not want that configuration/

I then reformatted the hard drive using XP computer management tool and came up with one NTFS drive where I installed XP pro.  Lost the HP recovery drive in the process.

Now,  I cannot use Partition Magic as I get an immediate error "Error 117 Partition's drive letter cannot be identified".

When I run Partition Table Doctor, it first finds and correct an error in the number of sectors and then it sees my hard drive as one large partition ("Free") with no drive letter that is not active.  If I run the rebuild partition segement, I see the 4 previous primary drives but I am only able to choose to restore 2 of them.

I do not find any ckdsk errors, surface or sector errors.

What's the smartest course of action to take here to end up with a healthy hard drive with 3 partitions including the recovery partition (or do I really need that?).  Not too techie, probably shouldn't be doing any of this.

Thanks in advance :) Learning as fast as I can read.
Question by:stillgreen2
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

    "... Not too techie, probably shouldn't be doing any of this ..." ==> :-)     Well, you've already DONE the main thing mentioned in your question ["Lost Recovery Partition"] ... and there's no way to recover that short of contacting HP and buying a set of recovery disks.

    ... but since you have XP, I'd do this:

    (a)  Install XP.   When it shows you the disk configuration and asks where to isntall it, DELETE all current partitions; then CREATE a new partition for the OS of whatever size you want [for XP, 40GB to 50GB is PLENTY -- especially if you keep your data in a 2nd partition, which is an excellent idea and I gather is what you're planning here].

    (b)  Once XP is installed, go to Disk Management within XP and create a 2nd partition for the rest of the disk.   After that's formatted and ready to use, relocated "My Documents" to a folder on that partition [e.g. "Stillgreen's Stuff"].   This lets you keep your data separate from your OS partition -- so if you ever need to restore the OS partition (due to OS corruption; malware; a bad virus; etc.) there's NO impact on your data.

    (c)  Create a folder on the 2nd partition called OSImages.   In this folder, you can store an image of the 1st (OS) partition, so if you ever need to restore, you simply do so from this image (I'd actually keep 2 or 3 images here just in case you need to revert further back).   Note that these images are MUCH better than a "restore partition" -- a restore partition would reset the system to like-new from the factory ... without current updates; without your installed programs; desktop "tweaks"; etc.   An image that YOU make will be of the fully configured system with all of your programs installed, etc.   The key is to be sure the image is "clean" -- i.e. make it as soon as you've got the system fully configured; all updates applied; etc. and are SURE there's no malware/virus corruption.

    (d)  To create an image for the OSImages folder, you can use any good image/restore utility.   I prefer Boot-It NG, which is a simple, rock-solid partition manager.   It's a bit "geeky" ... but not hard.   To create an image, just do this:

    =>  Download the free demo copy of Boot-It and create a bootable floppy (if you have one) or CD.

    =>  Boot to Boot-It; select CANCEL at the first prompt; then OK;  then click on Partition Work
    =>  Highlight the first partition (this is your OS partition);  then click on Image - Create Image.   You'll now see a "Paste Pending for Image Creation" note at the bottom of the window.
    =>  Highlight the second partition; then click on Paste.   You'll see the folder structure of the 2nd partition - double click on OSImages;  then type a name for the image [Old DOS restrictions -- 8 characters; no spaces.   Perhaps "XP8Feb9"].   The default choices for the rest of the items are fine.   It will take a while to create the image;  when it's done, just close the window; remove the Boot-It media; and reboot.

    If you ever need to restore from an image, the process is very similar => you highlight the 2nd partition; click on Image - Restore from file;  highlight the image file you want;  then (when you see a "Paste pending for Image restore" note) you highlight the first partition and click on Paste.


    Author Comment

    Not sure I'm getting what you're saying.  

    Should I reformat the HD again?  I do have the recovery disks from HP and the OEM XP pro disk (and a corrupted Office Trial disk too).    

    Can I reinstall XP without using the HP recovery disk first?  If so, is that what you're telling me to do?

    I did already try using the Partition Doctor to recompile the partitions.  It was apparently not successful.  The computer works fine.  Just won't let me work with my partitions.

    Is not a problem to reformat.  I don't want as many partitions as on my old computer but I do like to have at least a couple.  
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    If you've already got XP installed and working well, that's fine.   I'd still structure the disk with two partitions -- one for the OS, one for your data.   If you want more, there should be a good reason for it (e.g. multi-booting, etc.).

    Create a bootable Boot-It media (CD or floppy); boot to Partition Work (CANCEL, OK, Partition Work);  and detail exactly what it shows for your current partition structure.

    ... then describe what you want to achieve with the additional partitions -- generally one for the OS; one for data is plenty.   Some like to use a dedicated partition for the images ... but there's no real advantage to that.

    Author Comment

    When I use the disk part command my disk type is coming up as "07" rather than IDE or something such.  I have never seen this before and can't seem to find anything on Google.  Is this part of the problem I'm having creating partitions on this disk?
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    You've apparently "messed up" the partition table structure; but it's easily recoverable.   Post what Boot-It shows for the current partition structure of the disk, as I noted in my last post.   i.e. list the details shown in the center of the Partition Work screen -- the one that looks like this:


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