Restoring HP Recovery Partition (WinXP?) Will not boot into partition after being set to active

Hey there Ultimate Tom's Hardware Tech Gurus!

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So I have a friend that wants me to have a look at his computer. I've had this thing for quite a while now and he isn't paying me, so in my spare time I hook it up and do what I can to try and get it running again. He wanted me diagnose it and try to recover any files I could because his hard drive / OS file system seemed to be corrupted.

When I received the computer, it had Windows XP installed, but wouldn't boot into Windows. It would go through BIOS, then the XP loading screen would appear but would get stuck at the XP loading logo. I used a few programs to recover what salvageable data I could to a removable drive, then deleted the Windows XP partition (probably should have done some extra troubleshooting to repair the OS, but oh well. What's done is done.).

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Now, there is still a partition labeled HP_RECOVERY which is around 8GB in size. It seems to be fully intact and I have browsed the files within and discovered that it has an ntldr, NTDETECT.COM, and a BCD file. I have used a boot-time partitioning disk to set this partition as active, but it refuses to boot into the recovery partition. What I'd like to know is if there is any way I could use these files to restore the WinXP boot-lader and/or force the system to boot into the recovery partition.

I'll also mention that I think it's using the Windows 7 boot-loader at the moment, which may be what is preventing it from booting into recovery. F9 is the designated "X-PRESS boot recovery?" button at BIOS. I've tried pressing F9, F10, F11, ctrl+F9/10/11 at BIOS post with no success. I could probably just download drivers for the system and then install Win7 and/or XP, but I would much rather restore the original OS with embedded recovery partition for ease of access to the system's user and to verify IF, in fact, the recovery partition is still applicable to the system.

His computer is a bit of a "frankenstein" build. The case cover is missing, there are wires hanging out everywhere, in order to turn the computer on, you have to find the front panel connector wires, pull them out of the chassis, and press one of the attached switches. It does have a decent mobo though.

If anyone knows how to restore a Windows XP 32-bit HP Recovery Partition to it's working state, this information would be quite useful to me in order to repair this computer and to have knowledge on knowing what to do in the future in the case that I encounter this problem again. There has to be something I can do to restore it's functionality, seeing as ntldr, NTDETECT.COM, and a BCD file is available on the partition. I think that the currently loaded Win7 bootloader has something to do with it not booting into the partition to perform a recovery operation.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this and any input you may have to further my knowledge in technological know-how.


Specifications:
(A very dusty) Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P mobo
Not sure about GPU yet or any other specs as I haven't loaded an OS to run an application to analyze hardware drivers.
2 answers Last reply
More about restoring recovery partition winxp boot partition set active
  1. A recovery partition would hold an image of the original setup. Most often it needs special configurations on the other partitions (which you deleted). Find an XP disk, wipe the disk fully, istall using the disk. Although XP right now is not a good idea to use if you are connected to the internet due to security issues.
  2. hang-the-9 said:
    A recovery partition would hold an image of the original setup. Most often it needs special configurations on the other partitions (which you deleted). Find an XP disk, wipe the disk fully, istall using the disk. Although XP right now is not a good idea to use if you are connected to the internet due to security issues.


    I have read quite a few threads with people stating that they were able to boot into their recovery partition and recover their OS and OEM drivers by marking the partition as active via a 3rd party boot-time partitioning software, which I have access to. The other partitions would have held files created by the recovery partition. I am able to access stable files within the recovery partition, which leads me to believe there must be some way to 're-activate' the bootloader stored on the recovery partition somehow.

    If I were to install Windows XP on a separate partition of the same disk; 1.) would that replace the current Win7 bootloader? 2.) would that then provide access to booting into the recovery partition? (Possibly the Win7 bootloader is blocking the boot sequence of the recovery partition?) 3.) After installing Windows XP, would it be possible to replace the ntldr file and/or BCD file (in the theorized partition that contains a clean install of Windows XP) to force booting into the recovery partition?

    Another helpful tidbit: The Win7 bootloader does display boot options post-BIOS. "Windows 7" and "An earlier version of Windows."

    I'm assuming that the bootloader (even though only the HP_RECOVERY partition exists) is recognizing the HP_RECOVERY partition as "an earlier version of Windows" because ntldr exists on the partition. There is also an i386 folder in this partition which is a WinXP installation directory. Obviously, (since I am unable to boot into the partition after marking it as active) I am stuck at a black screen when selecting "An earlier version of Windows" or the "Windows 7" entry, as there is no partition containing a Windows 7 installation.

    Where is this Win7 boot loader located I wonder? I have no System Reserved partition on the drive.
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