That's what I was thinking... if I get a new drive do you think I can run the pqservice from the external drive or will I have to buy a copy of vista?
First, I agree, if the drive has bad sectors, fixing it would only be a temp fix.
The BOLD last paragraph answers your question. The steps are a little complicated for the novice user...so be warned.
I have a travelmate 8104 which may have a slightly different PQSERVICE partition, but here's what I found...
By default, the BIOS and Acer's MBR code (the software in your master boot record) work together to try to keep your PQSERVICE partition "hidden". Typically, you'll see that the PQSERVICE partition is type 12h - which is marked as a diagnostic partition type.
In actual fact, your partition is probably type 0Bh or type 0Ch (Fat32).
The problem is that if you attempt to change the partition type from 12h to 0Bh, if you boot the HD again, the MBR code will set it back to 12h.
I used a bootable CDROM (with a win98 command prompt and DOS utilities) to change the partition to 0Bh. I used Partition Magic's PTEDIT to change the partition type. Once changed, I rebooted BACK TO THE CDROM (you got to do this before allowing the system to boot the HD). Now on the CDROM boot again, I can now see the files on the PQSERVICE partition.
At this point, I cheated. I renamed the AUTOEXEC.BAT file on the PQSERVICE partition to AUTOEXEK.BAT (or anything else other than autoexec.bat). Once renamed, I can use the laptop's ability to boot directly into the service partition (Alt-F10 on the TM8104), but the special D2D recovery software will NOT run because it can't find autoexec.bat.
Once you do this, you'll be sitting at a DOS C:> prompt on your PQSERVICE partition. Not much you can really do here, except see what's there. WARNING: If you boot the PQSERVICE partition to the C:> prompt, do NOT just Alt-Ctrl-Del to reboot! You should run autoexek.bat, then just abort the recovery process - which will do a "clean" reboot. The reason for this is that when you boot the PQSERVICE partition with Alt-F10, the MBR code will mark your extended partition as hidden, and the ONLY thing that restores your extended partition back is some code in the autoexek.bat file near the end. If you just Alt-Ctrl-Del out of the PQSERVICE partition back to WinXP, you'll find you don't have a "D:" partition because it's hidden.
What I did was first change the PQSERVICE partition to 0Bh (so it's not hidden). Then I used the Norton Ghost 2003 master CD (it's bootable) to backup the PQSERVICE partition to a partition file on an external USB harddrive. If you try to backup the PQSERVICE partition with Ghost when it's partition type is 12h, it will backup, but Ghost is smart and will refuse to restore it. It seems that Ghost knows about partition type 12h and will not allow you to restore it. But, if Ghost backs it up as type 0Bh, it works both for backup and restore; and once restored, you can use PTEDIT (or any other low level sector editor) to change the type back to 12h again.
I was able to backup my PQSERVICE partition, and then I restored it onto a completely different (and 100% empty) harddrive. Once restored on the new HD, I retagged the partition as type 12h, and then invoked the D2D boot (Alt-F10). After it was all said and done, I was able to get the D2D PQSERVICE partition to re-create a WinXP C: partition and it seems to come alive and work just fine.
Hope some of that helps,
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