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How to "Unhide" the IBM Hidden Partition, Restore w/o hidden partition possible?

Discussion in 'IBM Thinkpad' started by Jim, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. Jim

    Jim Guest

    I have XP Pro on my R40, and would like to unhide the hidden
    partition temporarily. I remember someone on here told a way using
    the ACCESS IBM on bootup to do this. Does anyone remember just how
    you go about this?

    Also, let's say you put a new hard drive in your Thinpad and want do a
    factory restore to that drive, is it possible to format the drive
    using the recovery CD's without the hidden partition?

    Thanks for any assistance.

    Jim, Dec 4, 2004
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  2. Jim

    Jim Guest

    I found the "HPA" nformation here:


    It's a paper by IBM on how the "HPA" (Hidden Protected Area) works.

    I'm having problems with drive imaging programs such as Acronis True
    Image, Ghost 2003, Drive Image, etc. The HPA confuses them when it
    tries to compress the IBM_PRELOAD C: partition, and the
    resultant backup files are larger than they are supposed to be.
    Back to the drawing board.
    Jim, Dec 4, 2004
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  3. Jim

    Harvey Gratt Guest

    I also have an R40 with XP PRO and Win98se (dual boot). I use Acronis
    True Image to image the whole drive about once a week. While I have
    never had any problems doing this disk image, I have never tried a
    restore of the image back to the drive (I can mount the image and
    view/copy the imaged files). I have never been concerned with the size
    of the image (I use normal compression).

    I have just looked at the article you indicated and it seems to imply
    that a special method has to be applied in order to image the drive - or
    is this just to image the HPA along with the normal drive partitions?

    Have you ever tried a restore operation with one of your images? If so
    was it successful? This article has left me wondering if I could really
    successfully restore the image to another drive if a HDD failure made it

    Harvey Gratt, Dec 4, 2004
  4. Jim

    dg1261 Guest

    PMFJI, Harvey - you should be okay, but you'll only get your XP and 98
    partitions, not the HPA. When the HPA is hidden, every imaging
    utility out there will be unable to even determine the HPA is there,
    so you'll just be imaging the visible portion of the HDD. When the
    HPA is unhidden, it appears to every utility out there as empty,
    unallocated (outside of any partition) disk space. Typically, imaging
    utilities won't copy unallocated space. If you did a sector-by-sector
    copy of the unallocated space, you *might* be able to restore the HPA
    to a new HDD, but I'm not sure if that would work uncorrupted.
    Fortunately, there are other ways to restore the HPA.

    It's important to realize that "hidden" in the HPA sense is different
    than in the usual sense we've come to expect. When you hide a
    partition with PartitionMagic, it isn't really "hidden", it's more
    like "disguised"--it's still there for real disk utilities to see, but
    it's disguising itself as a (supposedly) non-recognizable partition.
    Utilities like DriveImage or Ghost can still image them.

    Hiding the HPA, however, is completely different. It's done by
    rewriting the disk size parameters so the computer--and every utility
    running on the computer--thinks the HDD is smaller than it really is.
    I suspect these parameters are stored in flash memory on the HDD's
    controller, so the HDD will "misreport" itself when the computer's
    bios autodetects the HDD. Turning HPA security on/off in the R40's
    bios rewrites the HDD's flash memory so when it boots, it looks like
    either a smaller or larger HDD. (FTR, Hitachi has a tool for
    rewriting this register--useful if you're trying to reclaim the HPA
    space and the HDD has been moved to a non-IBM machine.)

    I've read that the IBM restore CDs for the T40-series will restore the
    HPA on a new replacement HDD, but that didn't seem to be an option
    with my R40. I replaced my HDD and the IBM R40 restore CDs would
    restore the OS, but not the HPA (unless I just didn't know how to use
    the restore CDs).

    There's another way to transfer the HPA, though not exactly easy. The
    HPA itself includes some special utilities for backing up and
    restoring the HPA. For anyone interested, I had to create a FAT32
    partition in the visible portion of the HDD, boot into the HPA, backup
    the HPA to a set of 650MB files on the FAT32 partition, copy the
    recovery tools to floppy, boot into XP and burn the fileset to CDRs,
    replace the HDD with the new one, create a FAT32 partition, copy the
    CDRs onto it, run the recovery tools from floppy, restore the HPA from
    the fileset (now on the new HDD's FAT32 partition), then delete the
    FAT32 partition. No, *definitely* not easy! The procedure was
    complicated because the backup/restore tools don't seem to read/write
    to NTFS or directly to CD.

    No, it wasn't worth the effort. If you have the IBM restore CDs, you
    don't need the HPA. Furthermore, restoring from either way, CD or
    HPA, takes about 5 times as long (I timed it!) as restoring from a
    typical commercial method (DriveImage, Ghost, TrueImage, CasperXP, et
    dg1261, Dec 5, 2004
  5. Jim

    Harvey Gratt Guest

    Thanks for the input - makes me feel better. If I can restore the disk
    so that XP and win98 work then I don't care about the HPA partition. In
    fact, I could use the extra disk space.

    Harvey Gratt, Dec 5, 2004
  6. Jim

    Jim Guest

    Acronis will not even see the HPA. I worked with Acronis people on
    this, they sent me special software to install in my machine to try to
    figure out just what was in there, this went on for some time, me
    installing software and it reporting back to Acronis. Finally they
    gave up, said it could not be done.

    You can image the IBM_PRELOAD C: drive and it will work just fine, in
    fact I used it to upgrade from 40 Gb to 60 Gb drive.

    I now have new issues with Acronis, it refuses to compress the data.
    Again I worked for over 3 weeks with the Acronis people trying out
    various things, they they just stopped writing. It does work without
    compression though. When you go to do a backup, for example, it tells
    you the size of the file will say be 9 gb, but it actually comes out
    to be actual size of the data on the drive, say 17 gb, this no matter
    what compression level you use.

    This happens no matter what version of Acronis True Image you use. I
    had been using 6 for some years and then Acronis sent me very latest
    version of 8, same problem. They gave up and stopped writing, but
    they really did try.

    Yesterday, I un-hid the HPA and tried to do a backup with Acronis, it
    did not even see the HPA, but backed up the C: IBM_PRELOAD, so you
    might as well leave the HPA protected. According to IBM, Ghost and
    Drive Image 7 will clone the drive if the HPA is un-protected in the
    Bios (you get dire warnings when you do this, you might think the
    world will end). The HPA uses up about 2.3 Gb on my drive just for
    all the operating system and drivers and stuff necessary to do a
    factory restore. Really not worth fretting over. I recently upgraded
    to an 80 gb drive and have left the HPA there.

    I have yet to figure out a way to backup and restore to the Ultrabay
    2000 2nd HDD drive adapter, so plan to get a small 2.5" external drive
    case and put the old 60 gb drive in it, and image to that. If there
    is a failure of the C: drive, pop it out and pop in the old 60 gb
    drive and keep computing.

    BTW, if you un-hide the HPA, Windows XP drive administrator shows the
    2.3 gb space as UNALLOCATED.

    I sure do miss the Acronis compression feature though, but I installed
    Ghost 2003 just to see if the compression in there would work and
    guess what? Ghost won't compress it either. I suspect SP2 for XP
    Pro. as it worked perfectly before I did SP2. I tried to uninstall
    SP2 but it made no difference. Get this. I did a complete new
    install of XP on the thinkpad and Acronis will STILL NOT COMPRESS, and
    somehow the other 4 drives on our home network will not compress now
    either under Acronis. Strange.
    Jim, Dec 5, 2004
  7. Jim

    Jim Guest

    The R40 Restore CD's do give you the option of using the HPA or not,
    it's right up at the beginning of the format, and I chose the wrong
    option not paying attention. When I realized the error I tried to
    stop the process but it's too late then.

    BTW, the first set of restore CD's they sent me were bad, had to call
    back for a second set, and they did NOT want to send that second set,
    even after spending a lot of time with one of their tech gurus, he
    just kept saying that what was happening could not happen, and finally
    gave up. I called back next day, got a woman tech rep and she sent
    another set out and it arrived early next morning, and worked

    Apparently if you use the HPA you don't need the restore CD's to
    recover, all the info on the CD's is in the HPA. That's fine as long
    as the drive is still good. he he..
    Jim, Dec 5, 2004
  8. Jim

    Harvey Gratt Guest

    O.K., I feel better about the HPA stuff.

    FWIW, I use TI 7 Buiild 638 and I also have SP2 installed. I just made
    another image of my R40. I have 3 partitions on it - win98se, a logical
    partition and an NTFS XP partition. The total "used" space (as reported
    by PartitionMagic) is about 22.5 GB. The total size of all the
    partitions is about 35 GB.

    This time I made the image uncompressed and it turned out, in fact, to
    be about 23 GB in size (my external drive is formatted as FAT32.)
    Previously, I had used normal and high compression and the sizes were
    about 17 to 18 GB. I assume this means that there is some compression
    happening. It does seem strange that you apparently cannot see any effects.

    If this is ever resolved, I would be interested in knowing what the
    problems was.

    Harvey Gratt, Dec 5, 2004
  9. Jim

    dg1261 Guest

    That may be what happened. I might have missed it right at the
    beginning and then it didn't give me the option again.

    Or, from the other point of view, if you use the restore CDs you don't
    need the HPA. <g>
    dg1261, Dec 6, 2004
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