Sometimes referred to as the recovery partition and restore partition, the hidden partition is a partition found on OEM computers such as Acer, ASUS, Dell, eMachine, HP (Compaq), and IBM computers that allow a user to restore their 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. Often it's easiest to press the key mentioned below over and over as the computer is booting up or if it's two keys holding down the modifier key and then pressing the other key over and over.
Tip: Before doing any of the steps below make sure any USB devices and drives are disconnected and that no CD or other disc is in the computer.
- 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. This can resolve a lot of Windows related issues without erasing of your personal data such as family photos. For more serious issues or if the non-destructive option doesn't work do a Full System Restore. This will delete all files on your computer, however, it will resolve any software issue with your computer.
Tip: If your computer did not come with this hidden partition or you've deleted it the only way to restore your computer would be to use a Windows CD and boot from that CD. However, this only re-installs Windows and not any of the other software or drivers that came with your computer.
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