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I bought my Acer laptop 4 years ago with Vista Home Premium x86. It has a recovery partition that I have used successfully in the past to format everything and reinstall Windows to factory settings.

I have since upgraded to Windows 7, but I now need to get back to my original installation. Not sure what it's called, but I can successfully get into this recovery thingy: Recovery thingy

However, when I click the third option (for me I think it says 'Windows Image Recovery' or something like that) it tells me that it can't find any images to recover from :(

I have checked and I don't have a windows.old that I can recover from either.

One final note, if I launch diskmgmt.msc, these are the partitions:

Partitions

  1. Why is the first partition shaded? Does that mean anything?
  2. Both of the 'unlettered' partitions are 100% empty. Did the Windows 7 upgrade process format my Vista system recovery partition?!

And finally:

  • How can I get back to my factory settings?

EDIT: I did see this question, but neither of the answers apply to my situation.

Edit to address jdh's answer:

From what I can tell, I never get the option to boot the Vista recovery partition. After hitting F10, I get this screen, except it's partition 2, and I don't have the IN/MINT bit:

enter image description here

I hit Escape, and then I get this screen, except without Ubuntu listed, and without the auto-countdown thing:

enter image description here

I hit F8, and then I get this screen:

enter image description here

I hit Enter on the first option, I end up at the screen in the first screen shot. As I said, from there I click the third option, and it fails to find the image, which I guess makes sense if it's only looking for a Windows 7 recovery. So I either need to make the Windows 7 tool see the Vista recovery partition, or I need the boot loader (?) to let me select Vista earlier in the process.

Any ideas?

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It looks like you formated your hdd at somepoint and wiped the recovery parition based on your description of the problem. Why exactly do you want to restore your backup instead of simply installing Vista yourself and using your cd-key? –  Ramhound Mar 14 '12 at 12:45
    
@Ramhound I didn't get a Vista disc with my laptop, and I don't know what the license key is. –  Cam Jackson Mar 14 '12 at 13:06
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The license key should be on the sticker on the bottom of your laptop. And you didn't follow instructions and make a DVD backup of you recovery partition? –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 27 '13 at 2:23
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Reboot several times, hitting F10, and see if you can get into the recovery BIOS mode. Note that this is different from the standard BIOS mode, and the timing of the button push is a little tricky. If you can get into that BIOS mode there is a moderately confusing menu that may let you boot from the recovery partition (if it still exists). (This is not Windows Boot Manager.) –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 27 '13 at 2:26

2 Answers 2

The menu shown in your question is the Microsoft windows 7 recovery tool menu. The Vista recovery option should be available at boot time by hitting F10 while powering up (It might be a different key on Acer - check the bios options). That should give an option to boot the recovery partition. Typically, pc sellers will make a copy of the original install disk and utitlities as the first partition, and either mark it hidden or non-windows visible (not NTFS). Thus, its not visible in windows explorer etc, and cant be easily deleted by accident. Once the recovery partition boots up, it will install its own OS capable of seeing that partition. The hidden partitions are "empty" to windows 7 because it doesn't know what format it is. This is similar when a drive has Linux partitions.

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I think I understand everything you're saying, but I don't believe I'm being given any option to get into the Vista partition at any point. I've edit the question with some screenshots to show my boot process. I should mention that only the screenshot showing the 4 partitions is mine. The rest are from google, which is why I said that the exact text in the first screenshot doesn't match what I see. I believe the semantics are the same though. –  Cam Jackson Mar 14 '12 at 11:57
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ok, you didn't mention that you had loaded ubuntu at some point. In that case, that install probably repartitioned the disk to make space and blew away the original Acer recovery partition. That would explain why its no longer a boot option, and why you have two non-windows partitions (linux main and swap partitions). At this point, the only way to recover vista, is with the original Acer OEM windows Vista install DVD. (unless you made a backup disk image). –  jdh Mar 14 '12 at 13:14
    
As I commented above, the screenshots aren't mine, I just got them from google so I wouldn't have to type everything out. I've written in the question how what I see differs from the pictures I've posted, including ' I get this screen, except without Ubuntu listed'. I haven't ever installed Ubuntu on this machine. Is there any way to determine for sure if my recovery partition is still in tact? If we assume for a moment that it is still in tact, is there any way I can get to it/boot it? –  Cam Jackson Mar 15 '12 at 0:28

It appears that your OEM partitions were somehow wiped, possibly in the Windows 7 installation. They're still there, but if they're empty there's nothing to restore to. If you really want to get back to Vista for whatever reason, your best option at this point is to just acquire an image of the Vista installation environment (I leave it to your discretion on how you find one) and use the License key that your laptop came with (It should be on a sticker attached to the base of the laptop) to reinstall Vista that way.

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