Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventures with the Lenovo Ideapad S10-2 Netbook - Part 2

(This revised blog was posted to myspace on Thursday, August 6, 2009)

Making Backup and Recovery Discs

Another new day - time to discover more things about the Lenovo Ideapad S10-2. Yesterday I made a backup of my Lenovo's Windows XP Home base system (i.e., a Windows XP Home installation with only one non-Microsoft application, the AVG 8.5 anti-virus software). I used the OneKey system while running in Windows by double-clicking on the OneKey Recovery icon on the desktop. Once I started the application I was presented with 2 choices - Back Up and Create Recovery Disc. Clicking on Back Up started a 3-steps process - the first of which allowed me to select the backup mode - I chose full backup and quick compression. Pressing Next was the 2nd step and here I chose the destination. Apparently Lenovo OneKey Recovery system has a default path as the destination of the backup files and it is located on the visible partition D: under a hidden folder D:\Lenovo. I had to change my 'folder options' in Windows Explorer to 'Show hidden files and folder' before I was able to see this. The full path is: D:\Lenovo\OneKey App\OneKey Recovery\ and the default file name is 'backup.wsi'. However I did not wish to put the backup files on the same hard disk in the netbook and chose instead the external USB hard disk drive. Clicking Next was the last step that actually started the backup process. After a wait of about 42 minutes, the backup was completed.

After I made the backup, I then proceeded to make a recovery disc set. Starting OneKey Recovery application (henceforth called OKR) again, I selected Create Recovery Disc and was also presented by a 3-step process - the first of which is selecting a backup image to make a recovery disc set from. This implies that if a backup was not made previously then a recovery disc set CANNOT be created. In my case I had already made one so I chose the one from my external USB hard disc drive. Next I selected the drive in which the recovery discs will be made, the external DVD writer. Note that the correct backup file selected is also name 'backup.wsi'. According to the estimate shown on the screen I required two 4.7GB DVD's to make the recovery discs. Shoving in a blank 4.7GB DVD-RW disc into the drive I then proceeded to make the recovery discs. The whole process took me about 25 minutes to complete.

Restore to Factory Default

It was time to test whether Lenovo's OKR system can actually restore my netbook to the factory default as claimed. My expectation of a 'Restore to Factory Default' is a complete restoration of the whole hard disk to the state as when shipped from the factory - i.e., a pristine system. As required the netbook need to be switched off and then the OKR button pressed to start up the netbook again. Let see what will happen....

Upon pressing the OKR button the system started up by first showing the BIOS screen and then, to my surprise and amazement, a Windows Vista type startup screens appeared!!! My first reaction was "WTF!!! Where the &^%$* did THAT came from? I don't have Windows Vista on the netbook!" The 'Lenovo OneKey Rescue System 6.0' splash screen appeared and sat there for a while. Then a 'System Repair' message box popped up saying it was checking system files, followed by a dialog box saying that errors have been detected in some operating system files! I went "WTF?" again! Now all I have done so far to the Windows XP Home OS is to apply all upgrades from Microsoft and install AVG 8.5 Anti-virus software. I could not understand how the system files were corrupted unless Microsoft went ahead and installed newer versions without Lenovo's knowledge or else, the AVG's software did it. Clicking on the 'Details' button I was informed that there were 3 files that were affected:

advpack.dll
dnsapi.dll
gdi32.api

At this stage I decided to check further - I aborted the OneKey Rescue System by closing the dialog box and clicking Quit when the main menu appeared. The system restarted into Windows and using Windows Explorer located the first 2 files mentioned above but I could not locate the 'gdi32.api' file (but there was a 'igxpgdi32.dll'). I made copies of these files onto a USB thumb drive so I can compare these with the ones restored by the OKR system. I then shutdown the netbook and restarted it by pressing the OKR button.

This time I took up the offer made by the the OneKey Rescue System to fix the files when that dialog box appeared. Upon 'fixing' the files the system required a restart. For this test I restarted and booted into Windows normally using the on/off button. Then I located and checked the 3 files against the old files of which I previously made copies of on a USB thumb drive. The result was somewhat surprising and is shown below:

1) advpack.dll

(Size: Date: Version:)

'Fixed' copy: 121 kb 8/13/2007 7.0.5730.13
Original copy: 126 kb 3/8/2009 8.0.6001.18702

2) dnsapi.dll

'Fixed' copy: 145 kb 4/14/2008 5.1.2600.5512
Original copy: 145 kb 3/8/2009 5.1.2600.5625

3) gdi32.dll
'Fixed' copy: 279 kb 4/14/2008 5.1.2600.5512
Original copy: ------------ none -----------------

From the data above, I suspect that the System Repair part of the OKR system is ignorant of the fact that newer files from Microsoft were installed during the Windows update process. If it cannot find a match for the expected files than it cheerfully informs the user (erroneously, I suspect) that the files are corrupted and install the older version as a fix. Needless to say, my faith in the OKR system took a nosedive!

[New Note: Apparently, this is the only time that this error was detected (i.e., the first time the OKR was run). After restoring the system to my backup (an updated Windows XP), the OKR no longer detects the problem above. So it appears that OKR is capable up updating itself on newer system files.]

Anyway since this was to be a restore to factory default test, I shut down the netbook and restarted it by pressing the OKR button. This time there was no error messages about bad system files (as far as OKR is concerned, they have been fixed) and the main OKR menu appeared. There are only 2 choices (three if the Quit choice is included) - OneKey Antivirus and OneKey Recovery. The OneKey Antivirus seems interesting but I decided to test that later and selected OneKey Recovery instead. Another menu appeared giving 3 choices and a Return (back to OKR main menu) button, a Shut down button and a Reboot button. The 3 menu choices are System Recovery, Back Up My Data, and Password Management - I selected System Recovery here. A new menu appeared listing 2 choices - Restore to factory default and Restore from user's backup. I selected Restore to factory default and pressed the Next button whereby the Restore summary screen appeared giving information on what and where for the restore process. Pressing the Start button started the restore - while this was in progress, I was intrigued to discover that the image file for the factory default is on the hidden partition as indicated on the progress screen. The restore process was quite fast - it took only 6 minutes and 36 seconds. I pressed the Done key and in the menu that appeared, I pressed the Reboot key.

The netbook rebooted and started the new Windows first run setup process proving that the restore to factory default did work as advertised. However, it did not restore the D: (and I assume the hidden) partition. I had a temporary file previously placed in the D: partition and it was still there. My perception of the OKR restore to factory default for the whole hard disk was wrong! Only the C: partition was restored to factory default. Since I suspect the Vista like OKR recovery system software resides in the hidden partition along with the factory default image, it is highly unlikely that the OKR would touch the D: and hidden partitions. So buying a new hard disk to replace a failed netbook hard disk (a distinct future possibility) and have the system restored auto-magically on the new hard disk by pressing the the OKR button is just a pipe dream on my part. OKR restore to factory default will only work if the hidden partition remains intact! My faith in the OKR took another nosedive.

Restore from user backups

The next test I performed was restoring the netbook from the backup I created previously on a USB external hard disk drive. I now realize that I can only restore from backup using the OKR button and not within Windows's OKR as I thought previously. After launching OKR via the button, I selected OneKey Recovery -> System Recovery -> Restore from user's backup. I selected the backup file from the external HD - appropriately names 'backup.wsi' and pressed Next where I was allowed to select the restoration point (in case I made incremental backups). Since there is only one restoration point, I selected that and pressed Next where a summary screen was shown. I pressed the Start button to begin the restore process - which took about 5 minutes 52 seconds to complete - pretty fast! I then rebooted the netbook and the restored version of Windows appeared (not the factory default) proving the OKR restore from user backup worked as advertised.

Restore from recovery disc

I then proceeded to test the recovery discs previously created NOT on a new hard disk but the original disk installed in the netbook. According to Lenovo's User's Guide, I should be able to boot from this disc and restore the system without using the OKR button. This test is therefore to test whether this is true but first I used the OKR button to restore the netbook back to the factory default - which I checked by a normal start up using the on/off button. Then I rebooted the system again with the recovery DVD in the external DVD drive, but this time I pressed the F12 key at the BIOS screen - this allowed me to select the DVD drive as the boot drive. The Vista-like startup screen appeared (apparently the DVD ROM contained a copy of the OKR software that is located in the hidden partition) followed by the OKR menu which appeared with only one choice - restore from the backup on the DVD. Pressing the Next button started the process which took about 12 minutes to complete. Upon rebooting, the restored version of Windows appeared (not the factory default) proving the OKR recovery discs worked as advertised. Later I will test the recovery disc on a new (blank) hard disk drive.

Summary

In summary here is what I learned about the Lenovo's OKR system:

1) The OKR restore to factory default function works BUT only for the C: partition and NOT the D: and hidden partition. So if the hard disk on the netbook fails, pressing the OKR button does nothing even if you replace the hard disk with a new working one.

2) The OKR restore from user backup works provided the system can access the D: partition and the data is not corrupted (assuming the backup is on D:). If the backup data is stored on another external disk the same caveat applies. The caveat about the hard disk failure as in 1) above also applies here.

3) The OKR created recovery discs works. This is the only solution that is of use for system restoration if the netbook hard disk fails. However, it can only restore the C: partition to a new hard disk. Recreation of a D: partition is also possible maually but the OKR button will NOT work anymore since the Vista like OS and OKR software no longer exist in a hidden partition.

Further tests

As a IT professional, I am usually curious and my curiosity concerning the restoration of my netbook due to a catastrophic hard disc failure is not yet quenched. The following are the test that I intend to perform next:

a) Restoring the system from the Acronis image I made of the pristine hard disk in the netbook when I purchased it. I will use the same make and size of hard disk for this test. I will also verify whether the OKR button works for this new system. Then I will perform a restore to a larger hard disk but maintain the same partition sizes for the Windows system. Will the OKR button still work in this case?

b) Restore the system from a genuine Windows XP Home SP3 CD that I own. Since the drivers for the various peripherals in the netbook can be found on the D: partition (under the D:..drivers folder) and copied to another USB thumb drive or CD, I should, in theory, be able to carry this restoration out. The only problem with this method is that the OKR button will not work ever again.

c) Investigate the contents of the hidden folder. First I have to un-hide the partition - I plan to use the PTEDIT32 utility to do this. I also plan to look at the structure and layout of the various partitions on the original hard disc using System Rescue CD and the 'gparted' utility. Based on what I find, it may be possible to make a recovery disc set that will re-create the same partition layout as the original plus restore a factory default system to a new hard disk.

Stay tuned...

3 comments:

  1. hey i have already loaded stuff on my hard disk and would like to make a recovery disk of the drivers from my s 10-2. is it possible. also there is a one key recovery available for windows 7 online. if i download it can i run windows 7 0n my s10-2

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  2. okr button starts windows 7 instead of onekey rescue. what have i done wrong? wich drive letter has got the hidden partition?
    i've got an ideapad s10-3t.

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  3. How willing would you be to make these files available? I work for a university, where a professor just returned to me a state purchased S10-2 filled with viruses. Among them, several boot sector viruses. Upon sever attempts to remove these. I came to the realization that i was going to have to zero out the MBR and or the entire disc. I called and communicated with Lenovo who said that they did not, and would not ship me an OS disc, and further more my machine was 72 hours out of warranty, so they ended the conversation. I have a $300 paperweight as of right now. Something posted to a skytdrive account or some other FTP location would be greatly appreciated!!

    ReplyDelete