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I have a Dell desktop computer with a small SATA hard drive. The drive has two partitions: C: and D:. D: is a recovery partition that can be used to return the machine to its factory default condition.

I'd like to recover that factory default disk image onto a new large hard drive and use it as my new C:. How can I do this?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your best bet is to recover the image onto the existing drive, and then use a drive copy and partition expansion utility to copy everything over to the new drive after installation.

If you want to keep the current drive you can copy it to the new drive (expanding the primary partition as needed) and try a recovery. It should work just fine, but Dell messes with the boot sector, and it may not transfer correctly (or it may have information tied to the size of the drive).

If it doesn't work at first, read about Dell's restore utility here:

You should find information and utilities that modify the boot sector as needed to give you the ability to run the recovery after doing a drive copy.


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I'd like to not lose all the data on my small C:\. – Zack Peterson Jul 15 '09 at 14:31
Thanks for the information about Dell's restore utility. – Zack Peterson Jul 15 '09 at 14:42

Go download a copy of PING or Clonezilla, read the instructions, and use it to copy the recovery partition image to a new drive. Then boot off of that drive and... recover.

Free, fast, easy.

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I don't think that Dell's recovery partition is bootable. – Zack Peterson Jul 15 '09 at 14:33
The recovery partition itself isn't, but the boot sector for the drive, assuming it hasn't been overwritten, points to the dell recovery partition. If this has been overwritten (new OS install, some OS utilities) then you'll need to visit for information and utilities on how to recover it. – Adam Davis Jul 15 '09 at 14:42
@Zach: it should be - otherwise, what's the point? AFAIK, there's a key you have to hit during BIOS startup (before the OS loads) to trigger it - F12, CTRL+F11, or something like that (function key or combo). Check the docs that came with your machine, or visit the Dell website. – Shog9 Jul 15 '09 at 14:45

You may be able to so this with DriveImage, though I do not know for sure.If you can I would highly recommend it.

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