Accessing the recovery partition on Sony VAIO VGN-NR385E -use F10

Yet another Sony mystery. Undocumented in the included paperwork, as far as I can tell.

Oh yeah, if you want a recovery disk, you need to call in the first 30 days after purchase to get one free. After that, it’s voicemail hell to get to a live body, before you can send them more money for something they should have included in the box!

28 Responses to “Accessing the recovery partition on Sony VAIO VGN-NR385E -use F10”

  1. how to get the recovery for Sony Recovery Disks for VGN NR385E.

  2. I regret having bought my laptop from sony.They have given only one big partition other than the hidden recovery partition.I have no clues regarding how to partition it further.And they warn if anything is altered, the recovery CD’s would become meaningless and won’t work. It seems i have to live with only one working partition of 180GB. Any help would be really nice. Thanks.

  3. For Windows, I generally use Partition Magic, mostly because I own it & have been using it for a long time. In Linux GParted is my favorite. But, there are bunch of other free (ie open source) & commercial apps that can do partitioning.

    If you can give me an idea of what you want/need to do with other partitions maybe I can be more specific with advice.

  4. hi,thanks for ur reply.
    Actually, my sony vaio has only one partition plus one hidden ‘recovery’ partition. I’d want to keep my system and data partitions separate and if i later restore my system back to original, data partition should remain intact. I can resize/make new partitions, but the problem is that in that case, sony recovery partition, or for that matter, sony recovery disks become unusable. At least this is what Sony advises to their laptop users.That’s why i’m confused.Thanks for ur help.

  5. Vickey,

    I’m not positive it applies to your model, but as I recall, the last couple of Sony restore disks I had the misfortune of using wiped out the existing partitions on the drive, then recreated the factory install, so everything was lost.

    I usually carry around a Linux Live CD, like Puppy or DSL, that I can boot from and copy the important stuff to a network drive or external USB drive. Puppy/DSL can read & write to FAT16/32, NTFS, CD, & DVD drives so the odds are pretty good I can read from & write to just about anything that’s available. This would be annoying to do on a daily basis tho & is really only practical for data recovery.

    If you really want to separate the data onto its’ own partition, I’d suggest a couple different options:

    1. Get an external USB drive or create a shared folder on a network you have access to and then buy a copy of SyncBackSE for US$30.00. Download a 30 day trial of SyncBackSE here. There’s also a freeware version that does essentially the same thing as the paid, but the free version is more irritating (to me) to get setup. $30 isn’t a bad deal for the time saved. Freeware version of SyncBack download.

      Setup SyncBack to backup on a schedule that makes sense for you – once a day or more if you’re writing a lot to your data partition.

    2. Sign up for offsite backup at Mozy. 2GB Totally Free Online Backup! Compliments of Mozy or Mozy Unlimited Backup – $4.95/Month. You can do scheduled backups with Mozy also. Of course, you have to have an internet connection for this to work.
    3. Do both, especially if you travel with your laptop and don’t always have access to a network share or a USB drive. I have clients who travel doing both and it works well.
    4. If you have to use the recovery disks, you’ll only have to recreate the data partition and restore your data from backup.

    5. Use Norton/Symantec Ghost to make an image of your disk once you’ve got it partitioned the way you want it & forget about the Sony recovery disks. Then use SyncBack, Mozy or both to backup your data partition. Restore from the Ghost image, restore data from backup & you’re in good shape.

    There are probably 10 (or a hundred) other ways to deal with this. You might want to check with a geek who’s familiar with what you do with your laptop for his/her opinion. This is kinda tough to analyse & make specific recommendations in this format. Or email me (above) & I’ll give it a go.


  6. hi Eric, thanks for all those tips.Sure, i’d try these, and let you know by email if i’m stuck somewhere. Yet i was wondering why in the first place, Sony would not allow flexibility of making more partitions easily without making things that complex and rendering the recovery partition/disks useless.


  7. I doubt we’ll ever know the real answer. My guess would be that forcing you to accept their configuration saves them tons of money in support calls. Any customization you do, software you install, etc is at your own risk and if something breaks, then it’s up to you to find out why & fix it. Even the lowest level support person can sell you a recovery DVD & tell you how it put it in the drive. None of the manufacturers I’ve dealt with in the last 10 (or more) years offers anything much different, unless you’re paying for the support contract.

    In their defense, the margins are so thin and competition so fierce on computers that providing any support at all really eats into the profit margin. I think that’s the real reason…

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  9. Listen to Erics advice find a geek you know/trust to look at this for you as on public forums you will get 100’s of pieces of good advice. That ultimately will confuse and possibly harm your system and mental health. 😀

    Personally I use a boot disc packed with tools for just about everything. At the moment I have a Sony Vaio in my care with a borked HDD (funnily enough it looks like the recovery partition segment of the drive, depending where on the drive this is stored, 170(and rising) bad/recovered sectors on the first 3 gig of the drive). Luckily I have a HDD regeneration tool which is taking care of things for me.

  10. Hi. Your site displays incorrectly in Mozilla, but content excellent! Thanks for your wise words:)

  11. I just discovered the recovery partition on my VGN-TZ250N thanks to a tech guy at a Fry’s story. Something screwed up the operating system on my pc in January and destroyed all printing capability as well as causing windows to no longer validate the os software

    After backing up all files and saving my Sprint wireless settings, the restore function completely restored the operating system to its original condition.

    The bonus was that none of the Sony bloatware crap was included so I actually have a cleaner system than before. I was able to reinstall my Office 2007 Professional without having to remove the small business version that was factory installed.

    Also, I got a clean IE install instead of the factory version with the AOL toolbar which couldn’t be removed.

    Much nicer. I only wish that I’d known about this before.

  12. Hi,

    i have sony notebook, wich doesn’t contain hidden has only 2 ntfs partitions, but no hidden one??..i used linux live cd’s and i dont see any hidden partitions…can i use recovery cd from other laptops??

    thx in advance for ur help

  13. Usually, recovery cd’s are manufacturer and model specific so the short answer is probably not. Even if you did find a cd that worked, chances are very good that you’d be missing the drivers for your model, not to mention licensing problems.

    I’d start at Sony’s support page and look for your exact model or series to see what’s available directly from Sony. If you can’t find any info at Sony then Google for your model/series and see if anyone else has had a similar problem and what they did about it.

    Good luck!

  14. When using a Sony Recovery CD, no matter how many partitions you’ve created/edited, if you choose to do a full restore (back to the factory install), then you’re going to end up with the same thing you had when you bought the computer. It will remove all partitions, except for the one it’s running in (the Recovery/Hidden Partition). Next, it will recreate the old partition. Finally, the partition is formatted, new files are copied, etc. When it boots up, you’re back in Windows.

    (Source: I’ve worked on a lot of them and they all work the same.)

  15. This is also the case when using the Recover Partition, as opposed to the Recovery CD’s…

  16. I contacted Sony support and the recovery DVDs cost 43 Euro…thats a lot of money..

  17. I never, ever would have imagined I would be required to be familiar with this, but thank goodness for the internet…

  18. Ok Problem: My friends daughter has a laptop, broke, later admitted she dropped it… hey ho ok so time to sort it out.Or maybe not… Sony sell laptops with NO, and I mean no disks.You have a licence SO you should have an Installation disc at least” you have paid for it”. HD screwed.. not wanting to have my “client to go through this ever again he bought win 7 reinstall. If I ever see another laptop from Sony to fix one question “did you do a backup?” if not “waves goodbye….And NO you shouldn’t have to phone Sony to get the disks, BECAUSE you already paid for them when you decided to get a shit sony laptop……..

  19. O own a sony Vaio VGN SF325E and either the recovery partition is very well hidden or it has been deleted. Any idea’s where I can look please.

  20. Hi Gail K,

    quite an old threat. but anyway here it comes:

    Windows GUI:
    Run a Windows Command Shell with administrative rights
    type diskmgmt.msc
    => Here you should see the partitioning of your disk (details below)

    Windows command line tool:
    Run a Windows Command Shell administrative rights
    type the following commands:
    select disk 0
    detail disk

    => Win7: Here you should see 3 volumes as type “partition”. The one named “Recovery” should be hidden
    WinXP: here you should see 2 volumes as type “partition”. The one named “Recovery” should be hidden.

    More infos about a partition you can get by selecting it and ask for details:
    select partition 1
    detail part

    Type “help” for more commands.
    Exit the diskpart tool by typing “exit”.
    BE CAREFULL: With this tool you also can make changes to the disk. One erratic command and you’re messed!

    Linux (LifeCD):
    open a terminal
    sudo cfdisk /dev/sda
    => here you should see the partitions of your disk.

    Note: if you have more than one disk and/or external storage medias connected, verify (by size plausibility and/or other criteria) that this is really the right hdd. if not, give a try to /dev/sdb …

    Perhaps this helps.

    And here some more details about SONY’s disk setup.
    Might be usefull…

    On Win7 Systems, Sony typically creates following partition structure:

    Part. 1 “Rescue”, Type 27 (= hidden NTFS-Volume), about 6-8GB
    Part. 2 ACTIVE “System Reserved”, Type 07 (= Regular NTFS), about 100MB
    Part. 3 “Data Partition”, Type 07 (= Regular NTFS), rest of the HDD

    On WinXP Systems, there is only

    Part. 1 “Rescue”, Type 27 (= hidden NTFS-Volume), about 6-8GB
    Part. 2 ACTIVE “Data Partition”, Type 07 (= Regular NTFS), rest of the HDD

    Part. 1 is almost fully automatized restore procedure. It will bring back the factory configuration, unfortunately with all the additional crap software that also had been included when you bought the system.

    Partition 2 is the Windows 7 Boot Manager – This is the active partition.

    Partition 3 is the Partition where the Windows files, programs and your data reside. Only this partition (Drive C:) is visible in the default configuration of the system.

    On Windows XP systems partition 2 and 3 are melted to Partition 2. On those systems this partition 2 is the active one.

    Set the “Rescue”-Partition as the active partition and reboot.
    The SONY restore system restore program will show up and give you some options, including the option to restore to the factory installation.

    BE AWARE: All other data will be erased. – So first save all your own data to a separate disk.

    NOTE: This Rescue partition is on a somewhat risky place. This you can actually see by my current troubles:
    Actually (I’m still analyzing this) the system of my friend had a rootkit that obviously placed itself probably in the MBR and its additional data on one of the first two partitions. As a “feature” of this rootkit, any changes to the partition table where turnend back to the original state after the reboot, so I have not been able to get rid of the rootkit by the restore procedure (no, several virus checkers running form a rescue Linux system failed to recognize the virus in the boot part of the rootkit. Only some viruses in the Windows partition have been eliminated.)
    Before realizing the presence of the rootkit, I restored the 3rd partition by the optimized (crap-free) image of the brand new system… and the rootkit re-injected itself at the first boot. Just when the login-screen appeared, I realized a screen-blanking for about 4 seconds. After the the login the problem (bluescreen because of a hdd driver conflict) reappeared.

    Fortunately I had made an image of the brand new disk, so this rootkit was no hard work. I restored the whole disk (including the MBR) and the issue was gone.

    ERGO: Do not relay on the rescue partition as it is. Create a safety copy of your rescue system. ASAP!

    There are two ways:

    1. The official way as Sony is offering it since years on every VAIO system:
    – Open the program “VAIO Recovery”. This is always part of SONY’s default installation.
    – Choose “Create Backup Copies” (or something similar. I’m using a different language)
    – Follow the procedure and you will have the basic CDs or DVDs in your hands to restore a bricked VAIO.

    2. Create images of your partitions and boot the record.
    – Choose an HDD imaging tool of your choice.
    – Depending on your current state, taste and the capabilities of the imaging tool, create an image of the whole disk or the individually of the MBR (Master Boot Record) and the separate partitions.
    The absolute minimum is to hold an image of the RESCUE partition (typically the first partition). But then be sure, you are able to reset the MBR before you start to rebuild your hdd.

    I personally prefer the second one, as then I know, what has been done. I typically image the MBR and all partitions on an USB disk, including a customized version of partition 3

  21. Thanks for the detailed explanation guys! My VGN-C140G hangs at the blue Windows XP screen and F10 doesn’t start the recovery process.

    How do I mark the recovery partition active and make it bootable?

  22. Scott Bearden on March 20th, 2011 at 3:13 pm





    CAN NOT FIND windows\system32\boot\winload.exe

    I do not know why recovery starts os vista,

    is it a bios issue HELP PLEASE.



  23. Please help me with this matter…guys that know stuff please…
    I have a Vaio VGN FZ21Z with Vista original windows.The old HDD broke so i bought a new one.I decided to install win7 32 bit,downloaded all the required drivers for this and everything works fine…but i don’t have the recovery partition to make recovery disks,so…
    I took a friend’s Vaio laptop and copied the Vaio Recovery application and also all the files from his RECOVERY PARTITION(note that he has win7 x64 bit).
    I open the Vaio Recovery application and when i press to make Rescue discks it says that there is no recovery partition.I then install EASEUS partition manager ,make a 13 GB parttion(named the partition RESCUE)and copied there all the files that my buddy had on HIS recovery partition…i even make it primary and logical,hidden and restarted the system.I open the Vaio Pecovery application to make the rescus disks and still won’t see my hidden partition with all the files i copied inside.

    If anyone knows,can this be done so that it can be brought to a initial state like my buddy’s laptop to make recovery disk?

    i thought that if i make the exact same thing like he has mabe it works…could it be probably that he has a 64 bit win7 and i have a 32 bitwin7?therefore the files are incompatible with my version?

    if someone knows how can this be cracked i’m oren for chat.
    Good day to u all.

  24. I have 3 partitions and i want to install fresh new windows using factory reset in VAIO …. how I could be able to protect my other drives i.e(D, E ) that contain data….

  25. thanks – wish I didnt waist time on the sony support pages…

  26. Hello,
    I want to install linux at the same time with my present windows 7.If I partition the drive and install linux in that ,would that erase my “hidden partition”.

  27. The only “safe” way I know of to add another operating system to a Windows 7 system is to use something like EasyBCD ( Google for “Windows 7 dual boot” to see what others say. I use EasyBCD on my Windows 7 box to dual boot & have had no problems.

  28. Dear friends,

    I purchased a Sony laptop (F15N12SG) and due to a mistake by EaseUS partition manager program, initially all drives were deleted. This laptop has a hybrid HDD (1 TB + 16 GB NAND SSD flash) and uses GPT. Although I could almost recover everything by Paragon partition manager (because I didn’t touch anything after deletion), still I can NOT access VAIO RECOVERY PARTITION. It exists but I cant boot up by that partition to refresh my HDD again.

    How can I fix it?

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