I have an Alienware m15x that I have been trying to get the recovery partiton working again for the past few days ever since I put in my PartitionMagic CD in and booted the PC to try to solve a problem.
I had the recovery partition intact but could not access it through the F10 key. I was, however, able to restore the system if I marked the partition active. At first I tried your STRCDC.ini edit, but it must have been patched in the version that was on this PC. So I eventually downloaded the HP version you linked, installed it and surpisingly it did not do any checks to see if the PC was really an HP.
After this installed, I tried editing the file again and pointing to the recovery partition and it created my recovery DVD! I then deleted the recovery partition off the hard disk and let the DVD recovery re-create it, and now my problem is solved!
I tried so many other ways to fix it but I just could not get back that boot sector code that the SoftThinks program put on. I eventually had to resort to creating a recovery DVD and letting it rebuild the partition.
If anyone else has this trouble, I highly recommend you don't attempt to go after fixing the MBR or boot sector unless you have it backed up. I wasted an entire weekend tinkering with TestDisk and other partition editing utilities trying to get it back. By the way, TestDisk is an excellent program for editing partition details! But, it is very powerful as to the damage that you can cause. You can use it to read/edit/write all the partition start and end data as well as MBR utilities. I had to use it multiple times as I messed up my partition table and MBR many times trying to get that F10 option back... please don't end up like me trying to screw with the partition tables/MBR... it was not the highlight of my day.
In the end, I downloaded the HP utility, mounted the recovery partition, pointed CD_Create.exe to it, and created the DVDs. I literally spent hours of time researching on the internet about this and was glad to finally have found this topic. I read the entire topic, every post, and found it very interesting, but that SmartThinks recovery system is so very difficult to repair if it ever breaks!
Thank you everyone who contributed to this thead!
I hope other people that have this problem with SmartThinks can learn from what has been said/done here!
For my method to work your recovery partition must be intact. It means it must have all the necessary files.
1. Download and install Enhanced HP Backup and Recovery Manager for Microsoft Windows Vista
2. Is your HP_RECOVERY partition has a letter like D:\ E:\ F:\ G:\ if so go to step 4.
3. Go to Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Computer Management then click Disk Management. Find your recovery partition and set a letter by right clicking and choosing Change Drive Letters and Path For example G:\
4. Lets say that you have a recovery partition at G:\ drive. Go to C:\Windows\SMINST\ directory and open STRCDC.ini file and go to end of this file and you will see a [Debug] section change it like below
ForceRP=G:\We are basically saying that my Recovery partition is at G:\ drive. It must be the letter of your recovery partition that we found out in previous steps.
5. Open CDCreator.exe which is also at C:\Windows\SMINST directory. Then either burn the DVD set or create iso files.
In case of errors;
1. Is your Recovery partition is really there? Check for size etc to confirm.
2. If program says can't make more than one set then delete below files
hpboot.sys,hpcd.sys,RCBoot.sysfrom your recovery partition and C:\Windows\SMINST\ directory