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December 7, 2007, 2:29 pm
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Sure. There is nothing remotely important on the hard drive.
Everything was backed up by regular process before this problem
started to occur, so no data was lost. (Now, just how often do you
hear THAT on Usenet? :).
The drive's behavior is pretty weird. You can do a full surface r/w
test and it passes with flying colors. But if you reload the OS from
the restore partition and start using it, you'll eventually (pretty
quickly) get STOP errors.
I was looking, if possible, for a free solution that would preserve
the original restore and diagnostic partitions. The CDs that come with
the computer are a regular WinXP install disk and a second disk that
contains the diagnostics in an ElTorito boot zone, plus the drivers/
software bundle in a Joliet partition. The partition order (on disk as
well as in the MBR) is - diagnostic, main user filesystem, restore.
The MBR contains custom Dell code to recognize the Ctrl-F11 keystroke
and boot off the restore partition.
I used dd to copy the MBR and diagnostics partition onto another hard
disk. I also made a backup image of the restore partition just in case
the original HDD dies totally. However there doesn't seem to be an
elegant automatic way to copy the restore partition. Broadly, I can
look at the total sector count of the restore partition on the old
drive, round it up if necessary, and count in that number of sectors
from the end of the new drive. I can write the FS image to this point
on the new drive, then go into the MBR and fix up the start CHS and
LBA values to point to the new location of that partition.
However this is obviously tedious and fraught with possibilities for
arithmetic error :)
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