Hidden partition

Sometimes referred to as the recovery partition and restore partition, the hidden partition is a partition found on OEM computer hard drives. Manufacturer's like Acer, ASUS, Dell, eMachine, HP (Compaq), and IBM computers use this partition to restore your computer back to how it was when it was first purchased, without using a CD or DVD.

Hidden partitions are accessed either through Windows using a pre-installed application that came with the computer or by pressing a key combination as the computer boots up. Below are some examples of how to access this partition as the computer is booting up.

Note: Before doing any of the steps below make sure any USB devices and drives are disconnected and that no CD or disc is in the computer.

Tip: Press the key mentioned below over and over as the computer is booting or if it is two keys hold down the modifier key and press the other key over and over if you are having a hard time accessing the restore menu.

  • Alt + F10 - Access Acer disk-to-disk (D2D) recovery partition. Note: you may need to enable the D2D option in CMOS setup.
  • F9 - Access ASUS EEE PC hidden partition.
  • F10 or F11 - Access the Compaq (Hewlett Packard) recovery partition.
  • Ctrl + F11 or F8 - Access Dell computers Dell System Restore (DSR) partition on many different models.
  • F11 or Alt + F10 - Access eMachine option to restore a backup copy.
  • F11 - Access Gateway hidden restore partition
  • F11 - Access Lenovo hidden recovery partition.
  • F10 - Access Sony hidden restore partition.
  • 0 (zero key) or F8 - Access Toshiba hidden partition.

Finally, you may have the option between a Non-Destructive System Restore and Full System Restore. For computers that have the Non-Destructive System Restore option or an option similar, we suggest trying this option first, which can resolve Windows related problems without erasing of your personal data such as family photos. For more serious issues or if the non-destructive option does not work do a Full System Restore, which deletes all files on your computer and gets it back to how it was when you first bought the computer.

Tip: If your computer did not come with this hidden partition or you have deleted it the only way to restore your computer would be to use a Windows CD and boot from that CD. However, this CD only installs Windows and no other software or drivers that came with your computer.

Related pages

Also see: D2D, DSR, Factory settings, Hard drive terms, HPA, Partition, Restore disk