Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recovering a Corrupted HP Computer's Hard Drive Using a Third-Party Tool (BartPE)

Perhaps your hard disk has been irreversibly wrecked by viruses and you're ready to reformat and reload all the original manufacturer's preinstalled software.  But you find yourself in a bind: you never did make those Recovery CDs the system nagged you about when you first bought it!  Have no fear: there are still several solutions available to you.  First, you may have direct access to the recovery partition on your hard drive if you press F10 during boot-up.  Next, obviously, you can contact your PC's vendor and ask to receive replacement recovery CDs for your model PC if you'd rather make sure (for once!) that you obtain those.  But what if you're impatient and can't wait the number of days it takes to get your replacement CDs in the mail, or what if that F10 key just won't work?  Well, now you and I are ready to start talking!

This entire blog post is hanging on the possibility that your recovery CD software is actually still intact within your computer's corrupted hard drive.  This is entirely possible (and I've witnessed it!) since the recovery partition usually lies dormant in a locked state.  You may even have seen an H: drive (or some other odd drive letter) while browsing through Windows Explorer at some point in the past.  Its contents may have been displayed on the screen as a lock icon which you couldn't browse into.  Guess what?  That's your recovery software in there.

There is a very obscure tool called BartPE by Bart Lagerweij which you can download for free from his website and tap into that locked partition. But wait!  Don't click on that link until I tell you the whole story!

My goal in suggesting that you use BartPE is to help you gain access to that recovery partition locked away within your computer and run a process to restore all your operating system files and software to their original state.  BartPE will give you, "a complete Win32 environment with network support, a graphical user interface (800x600) and FAT/NTFS/CDFS filesystem support."  With it, you can boot your PC into a mini-Windows XP environment and gain access to the hidden recovery partition's executable files.  You can then literally execute (double-click on) the Restore.exe file found normally in H:\MiniNT\system32 and have your machine back to its original state! What's great about this method is that (because you're restoring directly from the internal H: drive into the C: drive) it cuts down the file restoration time to just a few minutes, as opposed to potentially hours of swapping HP Recovery CDs into your drive bay!

Alright, go ahead and click the link!  You've got the picture.  You will create a boot CD using the simple BartPE instructions on the product page, start the PC using that boot CD, and off you go!