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How to use the pre-boot service partition to recover your software

The following article describes the functions and usage of the software recovery mechanism contained on your hard drive:

ThinkPad button
Access IBM buttonNote: The service partition can be accessed by pressing the Access ThinkPad or Access IBM button during startup.
  • ThinkPad G40, G41
  • ThinkPad R40, R40e, R50, R50e, R50p, R51, R51e, R52, R60, R60e, R61
  • ThinkPad T20, T21, T22, T23, T30, T40, T40p, T41, T41p, T42, T42p, T43, T43p, T60, T60p, T61
  • ThinkPad X30, X31, X32, X40, X41, X41 Tablet, X60, X60s, X60 Tablet
    Note: The instructions stated below will not apply for these ThinkPad systems.

This new form of recovery allows the user to restore the preloaded operating system and software on the machine back to the original out of factory condition. This can be useful if the machine is encountering problems that can not be resolved (i.e unrecoverable software errors) by any other means. Because the recovery partition is the only means of recovery that came with the machine it is not recommended that you remove the data within the service partition or delete the partition to reclaim the additional hard drive space. In the off chance that the hard drive fails, a replacement drive and a CD with the preload recovery image may be obtained by contacting the Support Center.

Prior to performing a software recovery, Lenovo recommends returning your system to it's original factory configuration by removing all hardware that has been added to your system.

When the system first starts, the following message will be displayed on a blank screen:

To Start the Product Recovery program, press F11

This message will stay on the screen for approximately 2 seconds, and it will be there every time the machine is started from a powered off state. If the F11 key is pressed while the message is displayed, then the system will enter the Service partition.

Note:
If the system is a Microsoft Windows 2000 / Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 "Choose and Recover" system, a screen will be displayed before the main Recovery Utilities screen: Machines with a single operating system preload will only display a single operating system restore option.

Windows 2000: Recover Windows 2000, or change your
operating system to Windows 2000

Windows NT 4.0: Recover Windows NT 4.0, or change your
operating system to Windows NT 4.0

The above selection does not apply to all systems.

At the main menu, something much like the following three options will be displayed.

Note: Some menu options will not be available on certain systems.

Main menu
Full recovery:Reformat your hard disk and
install Windows ME, device drivers,
and preinstalled applications
Partial recovery:Reformat your hard disk
and install Windows ME
and all device drivers.
System utilities:View the system utilities menu.

When a "Full recovery" or a "Partial recovery" is selected, the user will have to confirm that they want to restore the preload and proceed. If the user answers Yes, then THE ENTIRE HARD DRIVE WILL BE FORMATTED. ALL USER DATA WILL BE LOST, and the system will be restored to the original out of factory condition.

An additional undocumented feature added to the User Interface is the ability to drop directly out to a DOS prompt. Pressing F3 (there is no prompt for this) will exit the recovery utility and go to a DOS prompt. Pressing Esc will reboot the system.

When "System utilities" is selected a menu similar to the following will be displayed.

System utilities
Run diagnostics:Run diagnostics on your
computer hardware.
Create a diagnostic diskette:Create a startable
diagnostic diskette.
System Information:Display information about
your computer configuration.
Create a Recovery Repair diskette:Create a
startable diskette to restore access
to the IBM Product Recovery
program on the hard disk.

The Utilities screen allows the user to create their emergency repair diskette. This diskette can be used to restore the Master Boot record. From this option the user can proactively create a diskette which can be used in the event that the Master Boot Record is altered and they no longer see the F11 prompt on bootup. Lenovo also includes a DOS based utility in the C:\IBMTOOLS directory that will do the same thing called RRDISK.BAT. If the user executes this function they will see the following message:

Use this utility to create a Recovery Repair diskette. If the
message "To start the IBM Product Recovery program, press F11"
is not displayed when you start your computer, you might be able
to restore access to the IBM Product Recovery program on the hard
drive by using this diskette.

To create a Recovery Repair diskette, insert a blank diskette into
diskette drive A, and press any key.

After inserting the diskette and pressing a key, LOADDSKF.EXE will create a diskette from the file RRDISK.DSK. The user will then see the message:

The diskette has been created. Label the diskette "Recovery
Repair diskette," and store it in a safe place.

To run the Recovery Repair diskette, insert it into diskette
drive A, and restart the computer.

The user will be returned to the Recovery User Interface.

Upon booting from the diskette, the user will see the message:

This diskette will attempt to restore access to the IBM Product
Recovery program on the hard disk

Press any key to continue

After pressing a key the Autoexec will run "a:\bmgr.exe /Fboot.bin /Mbgr%CC%.scr /s" with CC being the country code. If the program runs successfully, the following message will be displayed:

Access to the IBM Product Recovery program has been
restored. Remove the diskette from the drive, and press
Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart the computer.

If the program did not run successfully (user has deleted the partition with the label IBM_SERVICE) the user will see the message:

The IBM Product Recovery program could not be found on
your hard drive. Contact the IBM Personal Systems IBM Support Center
for information about obtaining and IBM Product Recovery CD
for your computer.

 

One other item of interest on this diskette is the MENUcc.SCR or BMGR.SCR file. Within this file are the lines:

<PROMPT1=To Start the IBM Product Recovery program, press F11>
<Wait=40>
<KEY1=F11>

This could be useful to hide the "To Start the Product Recovery program, press F11" message from the end user. You could change the prompt to a blank or a dot, or you could change the wait= to be very short so that the message can't be read and the key can't be pressed. Rules for these values:

  • The first field is the text of the message that displays before the boot manager passes control to the active partition. The only option supported by boot manager is to boot a partition that has a Volume Label of "IBM_SERVICE". The text may be from 1 to 94 characters.
  • The second field is the number of ticks (18.2 ticks/second) that the message displays prior to booting the active partition. This field must be a numeral from 1 to 255.
  • The third field is name of the F key to depress that causes the service partition to be booted. F Keys 1 through 12 are supported.

The text of a valid MENUcc.SCR or BMGR.SCR file is displayed above. All spaces following “<PROMPT=" are significant.


  • Alias ID: MIGR-4UFUYK
  • Document ID: HT035517
  • Last Updated :17/06/2014
  • (c) 2014 Lenovo