How to re-create the DELL Diagnose/Utility partition?

Topic's question says it all. With the search function I found a lot of topics but as far as I see none of them presented a real solution. Some of the topics pointed to goodells.com which presented some nice infos about this special partition but still I couldn't restore it.



So in short: I've got that handy DELL Utility partition (~ 64 MB) as partition #1 on my Vostro but I've formatted this partition. Unfortunately I forgot to save an image of it.

This doesn't harm the system, but now I'd like to restore the Utility partition. How?



What didn't work so far:


1.) I've downloaded from DELL's drivers' page the "Diagnostic Distribution Package" (DDDP) which updates an existing Utility partition. This worked well in former times when I already got a working Utility partition. :-)  Now the DDDP just says "can't update because no Utility partition found" or such.


Of course I first formatted the partition #1 to "FAT16" (would FAT32 also do?) and set it's partition type to DELL's magic number "DE" hex with Parted Magic's fdisk (Linux), but DDDP still doesn't recognize it...


I can well use the DDDP to create an (CD) ISO image or even a bootable USB, but not to re-created the harddisc partition #1.


What does the DDDP actually check the partition #1 for? Partition type 0xDE is there, it's FAT, ... what's still missing?



2.) I've booted from DELL's "Driver & Utilities" DVD where you can choose between DOS based Diagnostic tools (same as on the partition #1 but much slower to boot) and DOS shell. When you're in the DOS shell there's a DVD folder "D(iagnose)UP" or such which creates the Utility partition from scratch, but it say: "Creating an Utility Partition will destroy all data on your harddrive", which I absolutely don't want to.



So you DELL experts out there: how do you create a corrupted/reformatted Utility partition?


Thanks for any hints.

Message Edited by Richardus on 10-21-2008 09:56 PM
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6 Replies

Re: How to re-create the DELL Diagnose/Utility partition?


Assuming you have XP.

See here

Personally, I would run diagnostics from the Drivers and Utilities disc that was shipped with computer.


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Post the issue in the appropriate Board, where they will be answered.


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Re: How to re-create the DELL Diagnose/Utility partition?

I've read goodells.com's howto before, but it didn't work for me. OK, so I didn't use the tools mentioned there but "just" some Linux tools found for example in Parted Magic, but in the end it should have be the very same.


I've got no problem to run the diagnostics from the DVD because usually you don't need them very oftenly. Indeed.

However, what I want to be able is to use Dell's BIOS boot menu (F12) to boot whatever is in the utility partition. For example, you can put Parted Magic into it and then boot it via F12. Whilst normal BIOS startup boots the active partition with the main OS inside.


But, since I reformatted the Utility partition, the BIOS boot menu doesn't accept the #1 partition as Utility partition anymore and so doesn't boot from it.


Well, does anybody know the few characteristics which the Utility partition must have in order to be usable with the DELL BIOS boot menu and the DDDP update tool ?


FAT16 (32?), "0xDE" partition type, ... what else?

Message Edited by Richardus on 10-21-2008 10:05 PM
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Re: How to re-create the DELL Diagnose/Utility partition?

hello all

I'm having the same problem as Richardus.  I have replaced my hard drive, the old one crashed.  I can't find any documentation detailing the procedure to re-partition and re-install the diagnostic and utility partition.

I have no problem using Shesagordie's advice, " Personally, I would run diagnostics from the Drivers and Utilities disc that was shipped with computer".  My unique problem is, I have flased the bios with updated firmware and now the bios seeks the diagnostic/utility partition pre-boot.  Not able to find said partition the system pauses and waits for imput. It offers two choices, press F1 to continue  press F2 for system setup. Although WinXP boots after pressing F1, this really gets under my skin.  thats why I would like to re-establish this partition.   The URL that Shesagordie posted is broken.

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Re: How to re-create the DELL Diagnose/Utility partition?

Hi Delldaddy,

What model Dell and OS do you have?

Here's the link Bev was sending you to.

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Re: How to re-create the DELL Diagnose/Utility partition?

Hello osprey

my system isa dimension 4600c  w/XP pro

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Re: How to re-create the DELL Diagnose/Utility partition?

detailed description on how to rebuild
the utility partition on a new drive:
and the complete story of all the partitions here:

The Speedstep Readers Digest version is as follows.

This procedure will not work if you waited until the Old drive is totally dead OR you formatted over the old drive.

DO NOT FORMAT YOUR OLD DRIVE.  You will need it for files.

ALL Below is for a NEW Blank Drive.

1. You will need a WIN98SE Startup Floppy and copy the dos PTEDIT.com onto it.

If you do not have a floppy drive this is harder as it requires you make a bootable win9x USB flash drive.

2.  You Boot WIN9X dos and FDISK make a Tiny 50 Meg FAT16 Partition.

3   You format C:  /S  to make it bootable to C:\

4.  You then run PTEDIT to change the partition type to DE and save that.

5.  You then Boot your Windows CD and Make an NTFS Partition but DO NOT USE the entire drive.

     If its an 80 gig drive for instance you make a 68 Gig Partition leaving 12 Gigs on the end of the drive unused.

6.  You install your XP on the 2nd partition NTFS.

7.   You Reboot your WIN9X Dos and use FDISK to again create a 3RD FAT32 partition on the drive.

       FDISK  REBOOT, Then format your new 12 Gig C: /S

8.  You then Test that partition to see if its active and boots to C:\

9.  You Put in your old drive and use the WIN9X Boot to Unhide the Diag and recovery partitions.

10.  You xcopy *.* /e /s everything from the diag to the blank diag (Do not overwrite IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS, COMMAND.COM)

11   You xcopy *.*  /e /s everything from the recovery partition. (Do not overwrite IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS, COMMAND.COM)

12   You remove the old drive and put that aside.  Remove from CMOS as well.

13   You boot the WIN9X and run Dan Goodell's DSRFIX program.  Reboot Normally.

14   If all is well you will be able to Control F11 and recover using the Ghost image from the hidden 12 gig partition.

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