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I'm working on an E Machines (not mine, I wouldn't own one), that I think has a hard drive issue. The drive is readable, but the MBR and boot sector are either bad or corrupt. What I want to know is, is there any way to pull the info in the "recovery partition" on the HD and make a bootable CD with it to use for reinstall. With the MBR and boot sector hosed, I'd need the recovery disk, which I don't have, to reinstall from the recovery partition, and what I want to do is the only way I can think of to get around that, but I have no idea how to do it.

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Last Post by mechbas
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You have a basic misconception as to what a "recovery partition" is. It's a small partion on the drive (usually about 10% or less) where drive utilites are stored and is of insufficent space to store files or anything else. With a bad MBR I wouldn't try it even if I could get it to work. If you can get the files off (by whatever means you find practical) do so.
The existing files on the damaged partion is a poor source for a reinstall. Files are apt to be corrupt, incomplete, etc.
The drive may not be damaged. Just the MBR as you stated. It can usually be replaced.
Fdisk /MBR or run the utility full bore.
Just don't attempt to do so in a multi-HD system. Boot from a floppy to at least DOS level with W98 or ME. Reboot then format the HD. If that doesn't work the drive's dead and a paper weight.

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You have a basic misconception as to what a "recovery partition" is. It's a small partion on the drive (usually about 10% or less) where drive utilites are stored and is of insufficent space to store files or anything else.

Umm, no. Why would "drive utilities" require almost 1 GB of space? Also, how could you reformat the partition containing the operating system, boot the system with a CD that has less than 150 MB of data on it, and reinstall Windows XP from the recovery partition if it didn't contain the Windows installation files? In fact, once you start the Windows installation procedure, you can remove the recovery disk (CD), and it keeps on installing.

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As you didn't indicate drive size in you first post some things here have to be assumed.
Most drive sizes now are well above the 40 and even the 80g level. The space that you indicated with your last post is probably about minimum that fdisk could put on it for the oem utilities.
Reformating the partition or drive, if you'll re-read my post, assumes that whatever has been on the drive AND that you managed to copy by whatever means is safely stored elsewhere.
Your original post stated that the MBR was effectively non-existant. No drive repair utility that I'm aware of over the past 15 years is going to be able to do anything with any drive that DOES NOT have that one basic file on it, which precludes the possibility of installing ANYTHING on it with any measure of reliability.

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You can install anything you want on a drive with no MBR, and reliably use the information without any problems, the drive just won't boot. I've done this several times before. I used to have a system set up with two hard drives, one of which would not boot, no matter what you did to it. That drive was jumpered as a slave, with a good hard drive as the master. The master drive had a boot manager program on it, set up to allow me to boot to Win 95 on the master drive, or DOS 6.22 on the slave drive that had no MBR. Never had any problem, including data loss, of any kind with it.

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I don't, but all indications point in that direction.

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