DELL Recovery Partitions

I have an XPS 420 with Vista Ultimate SP2 32 BIT.   I plan to Install Windows 7 64 Bit into a new partition. After I get everything re-installed and working OK I plan to get rid of Vista.  To help with this I bought a copy of Paragon Partition Manager Personal 10.0.

Whwn I run the partition software it shows my physical hard drive with 3 partitions in this order.

(1)   Something called an OEM Service Volume.  It is a 54.8 MB FAT16 partition with a volume label of Dell Utility.  It does not have a drive letter.  I do not even know         that this existed.  What is this?  Could it be the diagnostic and memory test routines?.

(2)   The next partition is a 15GB NTFS called Dell Recovery.  The drive letter is D.  I knew this was a backup of the OS as it was when it was shipped to me.

(3)   The 3rd partition is a 683 GB NTFS with a drive letter of C.  This is my the boot drive and where all my programs and data are stored.

I was hoping to enlarge the 😧 (15GB), move it to the end (after the C partition), shift the C partition to the left to take up the space from that was vacated when I moved the D partition.  Then I want to reformat the moved and enlarged D partition and install windows 7.

I have heard rumors that deleting the D recovery partition could cause boot problems.  Is this true?

I have also heard that you cannot resize a system partition (my C drive) by extending it to the left.  Does taking in unallocated space to a system partition only work when you enlarge it to the right.

Will disk partiitioning software leave the OEM service volume alone?  Since it does not have a drive letter I am not sure of hoe to do a backup and restore.


I realize this is a long post but any help would be appreciated. 

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Re: DELL Recovery Partitions

(1) It is what it is.... If you suspect some piece of hardware is failing, you can use this utility to determine it.  Dell might require you to use it to confirm suspicions of a failure.  Since it is small, you could keep it.  It is useful at times.....

(2)A recovery partition is not necessary.  The computers come with one in lieu of recovery CD's.  I wiped my hard drive clean and did a bare install of Windows without all the added bloat.  Then I selectively added Dell's custom software, passing on things that I know I would never need.  I eliminated the recovery partition.

(3) Ah the primary system volume.  Where it all goes down.  NTFS partitions are funky, and there are a lot of guru's who will tell you different things.  The truth is (coming from first-hand experience), Yes you can resize NTFS partitions.  Yes you can adjust them to the left and to the right.  If you can't it means there is data stored in that cluster.  Defragmenting can help this problem, but if it is marked "Unmovable" that that is the limit.  You should never resize a NTFS partition on a production machine with critical/important data.  Depending on the tool you use, the maturity of the code and drivers it uses, it is extremely easy to corrupt the filesystem to the point it is unusable.  There is also the possiblility of it becoming corrupted as time moves on.  The best case is to backup you data, delete the NTFS partitions, reboot, create new partitions of the size you want and restore your backups/clean install. 

There are many ways to backup and restore.  In my experience, The best ones come from an unused filesystem. That means you boot to another OS and backup the other's partition.  "System Rescue CD" -  has all the tools you need loaded on it and it's free.  It runs off the CD (with a boot option to load completely to RAM) with no dependency on a hard drive.  You can safely backup both at the same time.  You'll probably kick yourself for buying Paragon Partition Manager.

Whenever you are dealing with partitions on a drive, you are only affecting the currently selected partition.  If you don't want one changed, then don't select it and change it.  The more partitions you have, the more secure and stable your system is.  If a filesystem gets corrupted, it will only corrupt that partition.  Windows has the approach of 1 partition for 1 OS.  Unix/Linux and other similar OS's have can have 1, 2, 5, 7... however many you want.  I have a linux box with 8 parttions on one drive and it is the same OS.  I don't know your experience, but think about it this way.... 

You want to install 2 OS's but you share files between them.  Like MP3's, avi's, DOC's, etc.  You want to make sure one OS doesn't corrupt the other one, so you create one partition for Visa, one for Win7, and one for the shared data.  Now both sysems need virtual memory... windows isn't good at running without it.  How about conserving space between the two OS's and creating another partition for your pagefile to reside on?  That will allow more data space for each OS.  Now when you wipe your old OS, you can use that other space for whatever you want.  If you upgrade to a new OS down the road, you won't have to backup and restore you MP3's and documents.  They are on their own partition that will not be affected by the install.  Another issue windows has is if you fill up drive C, the computer will crash.  Setup another partition that your shared files/folders can reside on.  That way if someone gets carried away, they will fill up a non-essential drive and your computer will still run.

  • Drive A,B (who uses a floppy anymore)
  • Drive C - your OS installation core drive.
  • Drive D - Remapped "My Documents" (shared between OS's)
  • Drive E - Specifically for your virtual memory (can also be shared)
  • Drive F - If you do a lot of file sharing (can also be shared)
  • Drive G - Other OS (later on, wipe it and reclaim it and you can put another "Program Files" folder on there and away you go.

(Note: Drive letters may vary depending on the arrangement of your hardware)

You can also select what partitions are visible in each OS.  An unused partition is a safer partition.

I hope this helped.


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