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Starting over - make HD like new

Starting over - make HD like new

I have a Compaq Armada 7400. A year or so ago, I formatted the HD to install Win2K-Pro. In doing so, I killed the hidden partition that lets me get into the BIOS setup. Now I can't boot from CD.

What can I do to make my hard drive like new? There is nothing on it I want to save. I just want to get it back to like it was when it came from Compaq. Then I can set the BIOS to let me boot from CD and install Linux.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew
7 REPLIES
Nils_9
Advisor

Re: Starting over - make HD like new

Is there a bundle of CD's associated to the computer? I suppose there can be a master CD containing Win98 or 2k-Pro. Did you try to boot from floppy?

Re: Starting over - make HD like new

This is a used PC. I imagine there was a bundle with it at one time, but I don't have it, but even if I did have it, it wouldn't be of much use since I can't boot from CD.

It will boot from floppy, so if I had the correct data, I could restore the defaults from that. I just don't know where to get it.

Thanks,
Andrew
Charlie Fellenbaum
Occasional Contributor

Re: Starting over - make HD like new

You are not the first person to stub your toe on this problem, I assure you, and is one of the reasons why I personally shy away from this brand. During your Win2k install, you deleted the small non-DOS partition that held the information that many if not all Compaq machines need to access the BIOS (normally through the F10 key I believe).

I will not claim to be the ultimate expert on this, but I offer the following. You will need to download a little disk recovery program from the HP/Compaq website that will recreate that non-DOS partition, after which you should be able to load a new OS....even if you have to start with Microsoft first, then wipe to Linux. This will require a floppy drive.

You may need the EXACT model number of your machine, start here: http://h18007.www1.hp.com/support/files/Armada/us/family/197.html?locale=en_US&prodSeriesId=96228

From the next page, select the operating system that originally came on the machine. Then I think you'll be looking to download and run the Compaq Diagnostics for Windows program.

Do your research on Google first, you'll find quite a few references to this restoration. Good luck.

Re: Starting over - make HD like new

Okay, I'm still without an entry into the BIOS. I've got to possible paths going.

I have FDISK'd the drive, leaving only the one primary partition.

PATH 1
- Here (http://h18000.www1.hp.com/support/files/armada/us/download/9260.html) it says, "NOTE: Setup from the startup menu is not present when the latest version of Personal Computer Diagnostics 10.40A (SP16085) is installed. For older products Downgrading to Personal Computer Diagnostics, version 10.39A (SP12906), results in Setup being included and selectable from the startup menu. The diskette of this softpaq can be used to update PC Diagnostics on the Diagnostics Partition or to restore it if the Diagnostics Partition has been destroyed."
- Wow, I thought I had it. I download 10.39 and I run the newly created floppy. It opens a dialog where one of the choices is "Computer Setup".
- I make the "Computer Setup" selection and it says, "Warning: The program, SETUP.EXE, was unable to execute. Please insert the SETUP diskette." Aaarrrrgghh!
- Where can I get the SETUP diskette. Somebody please get me a URL and SP file name.

PATH 2
- I've downloaded SP25498, Personal Computer Diagnostics v4.12A.
- I've downloaded Computer Setup for Portables, version 2.01 J, SP9962
- Computer Diagnostics runs fine and my PC tests out okay.
- I eject the floppy, insert the Computer Setup floppy, and make the "Computer Setup" selection.
- The PC reboots and opens the "Computer Setup Utilities, Version 2.01" dialog.
- I press the "Install Computer Setup" button and I get the message, "A Diagnostic partition does not exist. Use the PC DIAGNOSTICS Diskette to create a partition". Aaarrrgghh!
- Or if I press the "Run Computer Setup" button then it tells me, "Your computer's setup is password protected. Since you are running SETUP from a floppy diskette, you will not be able to save any changes you make during the session." Aaarrghhh!


It seems I'm no further along than when I started. I still don't have a Diagnostic Partition and I have no idea how to create one.

Any help would be really really appreciated. I've wasted way to much time on this already.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew

Re: Starting over - make HD like new

Has anyone ever really successfully restored the diagnostics partition?

The technical support line tells me it can't be done using downloads from the web site. They tell me the only option is to order and pay for the quick restore CD's.

Of course calling the number for the quick restore disks, they told me that these disks were no longer available for the 7400.

I'm open to trying something that someone knows really works.

Andrew

Re: Starting over - make HD like new

Well, I actually stumbled across the answer myself (after Compaq technical support said that it couldn't be done without the QuickRestore CD's that they don't carry any more). (This is for an Armada 7400, but I image it will work for many others, since I've seen these same files as common for many models.)

1) Go to http://h18000.www1.hp.com/support/files/armada/us/locate/20_950.html#0
2) Download Setup, SP7117. Also download "Diagnostics for Windows" v 4.12A, SP 25498.
NOTE: For the diagnostics disk, forget about it saying you need to use "Personal Computer Diagnostics v10.40 or v10.39 (in order to make a new diagnostics partition on older PC's). The "Diagnostics for Windows" v. 4.12A will detect that you don't have the partition and will create it for you.
3) Create the Setup and Diagnostics floppies (two) per the instructions.
4) Boot from a dos boot disk (your own) and use the FDISK utility to delete all partitions, dos and non-dos.
5) Boot from the setup disk and click the install button.
6) Follow the prompts through disk swaps and reboots.
7) Done!

You can now F10 to your bios settings!

Regards,
Andrew
http://www.ezysetup.com
$89 Web Site Setup with a Content Management System!

Re: Starting over - make HD like new

Well, I actually stumbled across the answer myself (after Compaq technical support said that it couldn't be done without the QuickRestore CD's that they don't carry any more). (This is for an Armada 7400, but I image it will work for many others, since I've seen these same files as common for many models.)

1) Go to http://h18000.www1.hp.com/support/files/armada/us/locate/20_950.html#0
2) Download Setup, SP7117. Also download "Diagnostics for Windows" v 4.12A, SP 25498.
NOTE: For the diagnostics disk, forget about it saying you need to use "Personal Computer Diagnostics v10.40 or v10.39 (in order to make a new diagnostics partition on older PC's). The "Diagnostics for Windows" v. 4.12A will detect that you don't have the partition and will create it for you.
3) Create the Setup and Diagnostics floppies (two) per the instructions.
4) Boot from a dos boot disk (your own) and use the FDISK utility to delete all partitions, dos and non-dos.
5) Boot from the setup disk and click the install button.
6) Follow the prompts through disk swaps and reboots.
7) Done!

You can now F10 to your bios settings!

Regards,
Andrew
http://www.ezysetup.com
$89 Web Site Setup with a Content Management System!