Hidden Partition

By Jaf
Feb 15, 2006
  1. Hi. I have an OEM computer, company that it was purchased from has gone out of business now (TIME COMPUTERS). I have a seagate 120GB HDD. There is a recovery partition which contains a backup image to be used with recovery CD to restore the computer if anything were to go wrong. I have tried quite a few partitioning programs that claim to unhide partitions, but none can show this hidden partition in windows. Is there anyway to unhide such an OEM recovery partition? I would really like to view what is on it and extract the files to another partition which is accessible in windows. I have one main partition (C:\) which is 109GB and it is FAT32. Runs on XP Home.

  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    You should examine the system partition table to see how this hidden area is defined.

    When you know the beginning block of the recovery stuff, then you can examine it and determine the filesystem (if any). After that, just set the partiiton type accordingly or copy the contents into a file or whatever.
  3. Jaf

    Jaf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 52

    Hi Nodsu.

    I used PowerQuest's Partition Table Editor (ptedit.exe) in DOS

    All it came up with was this

    Hard disk:
    Drive 1 (111952MB) 14272 Cyl, 255 heads, 63 sectors per track

    Type = 0C (This is WIN95 OSR2 FAT32, LBA-mapped)

    Boot = 80



    Cyl = 0
    Head = 1
    Sector = 1


    Cyl = 1022
    Head = 254
    Sector = 63


    Sectors before = 63

    Sectors = 229287744

    I can't see anything here which suggests a hidden partition, can you. Do you know of a good partition table editor, have I used the wrong tool?

    Thank You.
  4. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,018

    you can do a boot cd for acronis and it will do hex edit or any type file system edit on any block or cluster.
    I think I have heard of this problem with those computers
    will not boot with normal install OS the oem bios looks for hidden partition for boot up
    best to try and find a better bios install and use standard boot methods
  5. lukeyu

    lukeyu TS Rookie

  6. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    The ptedit output you pasted shows a single FAT32 partiton spanning 1024 cylinders (2GB) while your drive has 14272 of them.. Is this how it should be?

    Did you boot to DOS from the hard drive or from a floppy?

    Are you sure the recovery partition and its contents are still there at all?
  7. Jaf

    Jaf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 52

    I know Nodsu, it's very weird. I don't know if this is how it should be. I haven't messed with any partitioning software since I got this computer for fear of losing the recovery partition. If I did lose it I would be without an OS to re-install. I have made an image though with Norton Ghost 2003 but never tried it as the ghost I made is very new (half a week old, haven't had the need to use it as no disaster has occured). All I Know is that there is a hidden recovery partition taking up XGB's of space and the FAT32 C:\ partition it sets up is loaded with 109GB.

    As for your questions Nodsu, I am pretty sure the recovery partition is still there. I re-installed to out-of-the-box condition half a week ago from that hidden recovery partition.

    I booted up into DOS before windows had loaded and ran ptedit from floppy.

    All I know is I would really love to get this partition visible, but I'm beginning to get doubtful, it might not be possible.

    @lukeyu: Cheers for that, I've tried that before and it doesn't come up with any other partition except for C:\ and it classes that as the whole drive space wise. Which is weird as C:\ is only 109GB. Windows XP Disk MGMT picks up C:\ as 109GB though, with no other partitions visible.

    I am glad for all your help so far everyone, keep up with the suggestions.
  8. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    In that case, maybe the 2GB partiton ptedit shows you is the recovery partition?

    When examining this stuff, do not boot from the hard drive. The HD may contain some special bootloader that shields the recovery bits from other programs. Use a nice clean DOS boot floppy.
  9. Jaf

    Jaf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 52

    Well Nodsu. This afternoon I thought the Norton Ghost Disks are half a week old. I have hardly changed anything since then. So I went on and restored the images. It was successful and now the computer is just how it was half a week ago, so I'm going to stop worrying about the recovery partition seen as I know for sure that I have good working ghost images if anything were to happen, like my HDD dying and having to buy another.

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