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Z2 and removing recovery partition

Discussion in 'Sony' started by bucephalus, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. bucephalus

    bucephalus Newbie

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    I posted this in the owner's lounge but no responses yet -I hope to have better luck here.

    I made recovery media (both USB drive and DVDs) using Sony Care software.

    Essentially, I would like to have a factory install plus the extra space from removing the recovery partition, but would first like to confirm that the recovery media contains ALL the data (settings, files, programs, etc) in the recovery partition.

    I have seen plenty of posts on a fresh install but not necessarily one where I recover the system as it shipped from Sony, minus the recovery partition.

    Since I used Vaio Care to create the recovery media, I am not sure if booting from USB would give me the option to remove the partition. If it is that easy, then I just want to make sure that everything gets saved on the media with Vaio Care's recovery software.

    If anyone has done this or has suggestions, please let me know.

    ps.

    The Sony agent told me this:

    11:35 AM Prasadl - (C3RD):
    If you perform a system recovery using the recovery media, then only you will be able to use all the functionalities of the VAIO Care software.
    11:37 AM Prasadl - (C3RD):
    It is required to have the recovery partition in the computer to in order to reinstall the application and drivers.

    edit:

    11:46 AM Customer:
    Just to confirm, I would have a complete, 100% factory restore if I use the recovery media, even without the partition? The only limitation is that I would be unable to use the recovery partition to recover, restore, or reinstall Windows applications and drivers.
    11:46 AM Customer:
    correct?
    11:47 AM Prasadl - (C3RD):
    Yes. Thats absolutely correct.

    So...how do I best remove the partition? If I could do it without reinstalling everything that would be great, but if not then that's ok too

    pps.

    Is there any reason not to use Sony Care to create recovery media?

    If I replaced the hard drive entirely, for example, would the recovery media still work as expected?
     
  2. fhsieh

    fhsieh Notebook Consultant

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    If you made recovery media (USB or DVD), all of the files from the recovery partition are copied onto the recovery media. Therefore you can safely delete the recovery partition, and still perform a factory recovery if needed (as long as nothing happens to the USB or DVD media).

    However, when you perform a factory restore from the USB or DVD media, it will automatically re-create the recovery partition again. So you will end up back at square 1.

    Performing a clean install is not so difficult. Simply install a plain copy Windows. Then from within Windows, you can load VAIO Care from the recovery media (do not boot to the recovery media), and from there you can install drivers and whichever "pre-install" applications you want. Or simply use the drivers installation guides found in the Z2 thread.

    Recovery media will still work if you replace the hard drive (within reason), but in the Z2 the hard drive essentially cannot be replaced.
     
  3. anytimer

    anytimer Notebook Deity

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    Does anyone know how to verify that the recovery discs will actually work when needed? I've heard of too many instances where recovery discs turned out to be bad. I'd like to know about it while my system is still functioning, and not in the middle of the recovery process. :p
     
  4. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops MY FRIENDS CALL ME JEFF!

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    So says the man who has 512GB of storage, and probably leaves the recovery partition there as a precaution. Sorry, just kidding; it was too hard to resist :D
     
  5. ZoinksS2k

    ZoinksS2k Notebook Virtuoso

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    If you run the verify option, it's relatively safe. Takes friggin forever tho. I'm pretty horrible with loosing or destroying DVD's, so I convert them to ISO if I need to burn another set.

    I also use Ghost to copy the recovery partition as well.

    In an anally-retentive trifecta, I also copied the bits onto an USB thumb drive. I've restored from this a few times, works great and the data is copied to the recreated recovery partition pretty quickly. The build process still, somewhat inexplicably, takes over an hour. Meh

    Back to the OP's question, I don't think I'll write an exhaustive how-to, but here are the high-level steps of what I do to nuke the recovery partition. There are a few ways to accomplish this, but it's what I do.

    1. Make a Ghost backup of the System Reserved, recovery and OS partitions to an external USB device
    2. Make a USB thumb drive with the Ghost revocery media (cd works too)
    3. Make a Windows 7 install thumb drive (or DVD)
    4. Boot to the Ghost thumb drive
    5. Clean the drive with diskpart
    6. Restore the System Reserved and OS partitions
    7. Frown when the bootloader isn't found on the first reboot
    8. Boot to the Windows 7 install media, use the startup repair option
    9. Done

    I'm not sure why, but I sometimes need to do step 8 twice. Also, it is critical to have the appropriate Windows 7 flavor for the startup repair. It'll gack if you don't have the right edition.

    Since I have the 512GB SSD sammich, I like to use a 70GB OS partition and create another for raw storage of movies, music, installers and whatnot. This makes subsequent OS Ghost backups smaller. Goes really fast if you backup to the SSD itself. For me, backups on the Sony are to get to a known good state, not for recovery from a drive failure. I put all the stuff I want to keep on my workstation, which I backup normally.
     
  6. anytimer

    anytimer Notebook Deity

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    Thanks, ZoinksS2k. Appreciate your taking the time to write out the steps. Repped. :)

    I did use the verify option when I created the recovery discs. It did take forever, but I'm OK with that.

    Do you verify (using Diskpart, etc.) that the system reserved partition is the active partition before you run the Windows 7 repair?

    You don't need the entire Windows 7 DVD - you can create a system repair disk yourself.
     
  7. ZoinksS2k

    ZoinksS2k Notebook Virtuoso

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    As far as setting the partition to active, I set the option in Ghost. I also restore the original disk signature. Don't think either is required, but it may save a startup repair pass. From there, I just let Windows fix it. No particular reason other than laziness.

    In regards to using the windows installer vs a repair disk, I have a plethora of 4GB thumb drives from various conferences, so I have a dedicated Win7 x64 Ult drive at the ready. I reinstall Windows A LOT and it boots pretty quick from USB, so I just use the installer.
     
  8. ZoinksS2k

    ZoinksS2k Notebook Virtuoso

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    One other thing with recovery and Blueray-writer models. No idea why you can't burn off a copy of the recovery environment to BR. It'd fit on one disk. I don't know if BR's are bootable or not, but it would be nice to have the option. I've burned a total of 0 bluerays on the Z1 and Z2, so it would at least be a reason to use the media I have on hand.

    That said, I'm glad Sony added the USB thumb drive option. Easiest/fastest method for stock bare-metal rebuilds, IMO
     
  9. dimension6

    dimension6 Notebook Evangelist

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    As another option, you could use the free version of Easeus Partition Manager to delete the recovery partition. It's fast and painless, and you can uninstall it when it's done.
     
  10. bucephalus

    bucephalus Newbie

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    Thanks to everyone for your help!

    I had actually already restored the system a couple times without seeing the option to remove the recovery partition, but I tried again, making sure to boot from USB, and the process is actually much simpler than I anticipated. I must have inadvertently been restoring from the partition and never booting from USB, hence my original question on how to remove the partition.

    If you do boot from USB, the option is readily available to restore the system as it shipped (with recovery partition), minus the recovery partition, or even in some other configuration I forgot.

    So no extra software is needed after all. I have not activated Vaio Care since the reinstall, although I decided to leave the recovery partition until I need the space.

    The reason I reformatted again was that Automatic Windows Updates was permanently set to "on", and it was greyed out so I could not change it, either as Administrator or with the "secret" Administrator account. System Restore didn't fix it either.

    I couldn't figure out why but decided I didn't want to bother and just reinstalled everything to factory condition.

    Sony also apparently sells recovery disks for those who didn't make recovery media but wiped the recovery partition and want to restore the system to factory settings.
     
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