Windows Vista or 7 Repair from Setup Disk, Thinkpad Drive Letter Wrong Workaround

I was cloning my hard drive on my Thinkpad laptop to upgrade the factory 250GB 5400 rpm drive to my 320GB 7200 rpm drive.

After I finished cloning my hard drive using Acronis True Image (latest boot CD available to me at the time), I knew from experience that Windows will not boot until you perform the startup repair from a Windows installation CD. This has been the case with Windows Vista and 7. Not doing so results in a bluescreen that says something to the effect of ‘unmountable boot volume’.

The default factory install of Windows 7 comes with 3 NTFS partitions, and for some reason my Windows 7 is on the 2nd partition, with the 1st partition reserved for the Lenovo system recovery software labeled “SYSTEM_DRV”. Upon booting to the setup CD, the CD reported my Windows 7 operating system as being on “D:” drive, which was incorrect.

I did not proceed with the repair install at this point because I wasn’t sure if it was going to work properly with the wrong drive letter. Instead, I booted to UBCD and opened Cute Partition Manager. From there, I modified the partition type of the first partition so Windows would not recognize it. In my case, I chose hNTFS (hidden NTFS).

After saving and rebooting, my Windows 7 startup recover tool correctly reported my boot drive letter as “C:”. I allowed Windows 7 to run its repair, and then upon reboot re-enabled the first partition by changing it back from hNTFS to NTFS using UBCD again.

Booting into Windows 7 after this process was successful, with all drive letters retained as per the cloned hard drive.

20 Responses to “Windows Vista or 7 Repair from Setup Disk, Thinkpad Drive Letter Wrong Workaround”

  1. 1 T410
    January 18, 2010 at 3:46 am

    Oh yes there is another bug with this partitions from lenovo in his nice Rescue and Recovery software on system_drv

    the three partitions looks like if you get an new thinkpad
    drive S: “SYSTEM_DRV”
    drive C: “Windows7_OS”
    drive Q: “Lenovo_Recovery”

    If you like to do a new partition, in case make C: drive smaller and create a new drive as D: wirh a partition program like Acronis or what you like
    after this, windows seven bootmanger can’t start anymore. thats we know, strange from Microsoft anyway. Put a Boot CD in an fix this boot option, yes it will boot again.
    How it looks like if i put a second harddrive in my Ultrabay with more partitons on it?

    After this your factory default by press letter F11 will not work anymore , so what can i do,
    call lenovo for a recovery cd/dvd send me by post, wait for it five days or more.
    Why are this so complicated (stupid from microsoft) to do some change on your harddrive since windows vista and why have lenovo no answer and solution for it, in his nice “Rescue an Recovery”. If you see this advertising about ThinkVantage it must be the best i’m thinking no more data disaster anymore . Bullshit
    Why there show you a drive letter like Q in your OS f.e. Windows7 with no space on it, yes there are some recovery images on it for restore and the files are hidden, it makes no sense at all.(or tell me)
    I tell you this solution, put on Acronis True Image and for get this weak IBM/Lenovo recovery system.
    Acronis True Image makes a real hidden partition on your harddisk with a Fat12 format on it, also as “RaR” do seperate some files or status entries to save it.

    I’m THINKING about Lenovo/IBMs stoneage software Rescue and Recovery
    hey Lenovo think about it !!!

  2. 2 xau
    January 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    My Lenovo system partition “SYSTEM_DRV” is actually hidden from Windows by BIOS, soI cannot access it within Windows despite it being a non hidden NTFS partition natively. So it has no drive letter.

    You should have burned your own system recovery discs right after you received your computer.

    You can’t really blame Lenovo for setting up their software this way, because most users don’t need to repartition their hard drives.

    I have the following partitions right now on my hard drive:
    SYSTEM_DRV (no drive letter)
    WINDOWS7_OS (C:)
    Storage (D:, my custom one after shrinking the C: drive in Windows and creating a new partition)
    Lenovo_Recovery (Q:)

    My Rescue and Recovery partition still boots properly with this partition setup.

  3. December 18, 2010 at 2:02 am

    I believe this partition is actually encrypting your data. If my theory is correct, the bios would boot to SYSTEM_DRV, which after applying encryption swaps to your encrypted Windows 7 Partition. I’d be curious to see what would happen if you installed Ubuntu (a simple flavor of Linux available for free). Ubuntu would probably only see that both partitions are NTFS, but no other information. My point is that if you booted by using any available tool and looked at your partitions, the system would only be able to read that they are NTFS, but no identifiable data within, as it is encrypted and requires the SYSTEM_DRV partition to activate the otherwise encrypted data.

    By the way, if that theory is right and you install Ubuntu, the install will corrupt your MBR and render your machine useless. If this happens, boot to your Windows 7 recovery disk (if you don’t have one, do a google search). When you get to the menu, select the option that gets you to the command prompt, or terminal. Then, type “bootrec.exe /fixmbr” (without the quotes), hit enter and reboot your machine. Don’t forget to take your recovery CD out of your drive…

    Best of luck!

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