VOGONS


First post, by Brawndo

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I recently picked up an HP m8307c media center PC complete tower from a local thrift store, including the original hard drive which still has the recovery partition, and I've been looking for a way to access the recovery data (since I don't have recovery discs) to restore it to the factory original installation, or at least be able to read the recovery data and extract files. Is this possible? And if so, how?

I've searched for HP Recovery Manager downloads but it seems as if they're specific to a handful of models, and they only mention being compatible with laptops. I downloaded one and tried to install it but it said it's incompatible with the system. Are there third party tools which can do this? Or is there a general HP Recovery Manager install which will work?

Also the F11 key during boot does nothing, so I'm not sure if it's broken or what.

Reply 1 of 6, by chinny22

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F11 is definitely the right key. I'd bet someone has reinstalled windows of CD and broken the option.
Don't know of any way to get into the recovery partition. Typically I get rid of them anyway.
By the looks like the system came with Vista Home Premium x32. Not sure I'd be wanting to reinstall that OS anyway

If it was me I'd "find" a copy of plan windows and install off that.

Reply 2 of 6, by Brawndo

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chinny22 wrote on 2021-10-26, 10:38:
F11 is definitely the right key. I'd bet someone has reinstalled windows of CD and broken the option. Don't know of any way to g […]
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F11 is definitely the right key. I'd bet someone has reinstalled windows of CD and broken the option.
Don't know of any way to get into the recovery partition. Typically I get rid of them anyway.
By the looks like the system came with Vista Home Premium x32. Not sure I'd be wanting to reinstall that OS anyway

If it was me I'd "find" a copy of plan windows and install off that.

To clarify, this is not ordinarily how I would go about setting up a PC, at least not for myself. I never keep recovery partitions myself either, because they typically only contain bloatware and outdated drivers. Also, yes somebody did install Windows 10 on this PC, but I'm confused as to how that would affect the ability to use the F11 process during boot, as that should be a BIOS process before getting to the OS or even the bootloader, unless the routine for running the F11 process is actually written to the bootloader partition, which doesn't make sense to me, but it seems like that may be the case.

I am not planning on keeping this PC, so before passing it on, I just want to restore it to factory default. I also would never run Vista x86 for myself but that is what this PC was initially running, and it has a key for that OS so I would just rather consume that key for this PC and let whoever ends up with it do what they will with it. I did install Vista x64 but have been having issues getting the LAN driver to work, or the onboard LAN port is just broken. I think I'll install Vista x86 and see if I can get all the drivers to work.

Side rant, it's frustrating when OEMs stop hosting drivers for older systems on their website. I mean I get it, they consume space, but storage space is so cheap nowadays. Just makes it harder to find legit drivers and be sure they are the correct ones.

Reply 3 of 6, by chinny22

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Nah it's the bootloader not BIOS that's doing the F11 key, which is why Win10 has overwritten Vista's bootloader (or more correctly set it back to Windows default) but in the process locked you out of the recovery partition.
Only computers I know that did it on a BIOS level was Dell servers that had the "lifecycle controller" which stored drivers and few other bits on its own ROM on the motherboard (still needed your own copy of Windows though)

If you have the vista key you may be able to use a generic OEM CD, that always seems a bit hit or miss.
alternatively you could install Win7 and not activate it and say as much when you pass it on.
The plus for you is your effectively giving away a trial copy, the plus for them is Win7 doesn't really cripple much if not activated so they get a working PC.

Fully agree with your side rant! although typically I'll find what the hardware is and then find the generic drivers which are often newer and work just fine.
This page seems pretty good though
https://drivers.eu/PC/HP/Pavilion%20Media%20Center%20m8307c

Reply 4 of 6, by schmatzler

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You might be able to boot from a Linux Live CD/USB and access the contents of the recovery partition that way.
This is good enough if you just want to copy over some stock files like wallpapers, software, etc.

Reply 5 of 6, by Stiletto

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Yeah, Windows 10 install overwrote the code that made the F11 key work.

However, if they did an upgrade install, then (if it came with them, I am unsure) applications to access Recovery may still exist in the Start Menu. Look around for HP Recovery Manager or HP Recovery Media Creation.

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 6 of 6, by Brawndo

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schmatzler wrote on 2021-10-26, 18:13:

You might be able to boot from a Linux Live CD/USB and access the contents of the recovery partition that way.
This is good enough if you just want to copy over some stock files like wallpapers, software, etc.

This won't help because I can see the contents of the recovery partition, but they're a bunch of type-less files with long random string names, like encoded archives which likely only the recovery manager or recovery discs (if there were any) have the decryption key for. I was hoping maybe HP used a standard and easily available decryption method to read the contents of the files, but given the lack of a tool to do so that doesn't appear to be the case.