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Featuring: WIM-images and Diskpart

When I first bought my netbook from Acer it came with the  Windows 7 Starter Edition. Luckily for me I had an extra Home Premium license I could use. Problem was that the graphics driver needed was not available for download, and was not available through Windows. A fact I only discovered once I had re-installed windows. Another irritating thing I discovered was that the bundled software that was pre-installed with my windows starter edition, did not run anymore.

The solution? The hidden recovery partition.

Most new computers today comes with pre-installed Windows and bundled software. These licenses or programs does not come with an installation disk, package or user-manuals. Instead the setup files (or recovery disk) is stored in a hidden partition on your hard-drive, together with various extra drivers and tweak files. At the end of this article I will show you where to look for the files and how to retrieve them, but first lets unhide the partition. To unlock or get access to this hidden partition we need to unhide it. This can be achieved using the built-in DiskPart Tool. You can choose to get access to the disk on a one-time basis or permanently assigning a drive letter for it. In most cases you are able to assign a drive letter using the Windows Disk management tool. The Recovery Partition is normally set to have no drive letter by default. We can override this feature by using Diskpart.


Diskpart is a Command Line Utility which allows us to control every disk and partition on our system. We have shown you different uses for this tool on occasion, and this time we will use it to get access to the hidden partition. To make a hidden partition available we need to assign a drive letter, and this is how:

  1. Click Start-button and type DISKPART and press Enter.
  2. Click OK when the UAC prompt you
  3. In the Diskpart Dialogue Window, type: list disk This will show you a list of the disks  installed on your computer.
  4. Type Select Disk 0 (where zero is the disk we want to use, if you have more that one disk you might want to try accessing one by one until you find the right one)
  5. Type List Partition. You will see a list of all partitions on the drive, in my case there are two. One large and one small. The small one is the one we want to change. You can also identify the hidden partition by the fact that there are no drive letter assigned to it.
  6. Type Select Partition 1 (Where 1 represent your partition)
  7. Type Assign If successful you should get an Auto-run dialogue.
  8. Type Exit to close the Diskpart Tool.

Hidden on reboot…

On some computers the partition will be hidden again on the next boot. This is due to a setting called “nodefaultdriveletter”, which tells windows that the partition is to be hidden by default. If you would like to keep the partition visible,  you will have to change the setting.

  1. Open the Diskpart tool
  2. Type Select Disk 0
  3. Type List Partition
  4. Type Select Partition 1 (Replace 1 with the corresponding letter)
  5. Type Detail Partition This will display the settings for your partition. If the Type is set to 27 the partition is set as hidden.
  6. Try one of the following commands: Set ID=07 OVERRIDE attributes volume clear hidden
  7. Type Assign to assign a drive letter.
  8. Type Exit to close the Diskpart Tool.

The next time you boot your computer the partition will still be visible.

Looking through the Recovery Partition Folder

Now it’s time to do a bit of digging inside the Folders. The location of drivers and software will vary depending on your brand or computer type. In my case, everything I need is  hidden inside the ACER-HQ1 folder. You will see many different folders containing everything from Windows Recovery or setup-files, drivers and the licensed software that came bundled with your computer. The content of these folders will most likely be WIM-files or images. The Windows Imaging Format (WIM) is a file-based disk image format (like ISO, RAR and ZIP). It was developed by Microsoft to deploy its latest Windows operating system releases, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, which use it as part of their standard installation procedure. It works equally well with older versions of Windows.

Windows Setup Files Found in the Recovery Partition

Accessing WIM-Images

To access the contents the WIM-files you need a WIM capable reader. I suggest you use WinMount which works similar to WinRAR, but allow you to mount WIM-images temporarily.

Inside a WIM-image you will usually find 2 folders and a xml-file (it may vary). Usually the content you seek is within the folder named 1 (one). After mounting you might need to copy the contents to a new folder before installing the program or driver. Once you have done that, you can install the software as you please.

Bundled software licenses

In order to make sure you don’t install the bundled software onto other computers most setup files have a CMD-file attached to it. This is a scriptfile that will check the identity of your computer before allowing the setup to start. Delete this file to avoid it from running.

The serial is usually found inside an INI-file or a XML-file. And that should be all you need to know. Good Luck

Download WinMount

Download WinMount

Download WinMount

About Thomas

Computer geek from the age of 7, which amounts to 30 years of computer experience. From the early days (when every computer company had their own OS) of DOS, Windows 1.0 through Seven...

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11 thoughts on “Copy Windows Setup, Drivers or Bundled Software from the Recovery Partition [How To]”

  1. Uvais says:

    my friend buy a netbook which is came with 2 gb memory and installed Windows ce
    so my Q. is can i install other os like xp or 7
    here is the product’s link

    1. Thomas says:

      Yes it is possible.
      I run Windows 7 Home Premium on my netbook with 1GB RAM

  2. Thomas says:

    Might just be at your end.
    I usually use PNG format, so check to see if your browser doesn’t block those.
    But since you are using Firefox there shouldn’t be a problem.

  3. Naim Azmi says:

    Thomas what kind of netbook do you have?

  4. Dstraffin says:

    I’ve made my oem partition visable after boot,how can I change it back,Im worried it might get written to or damaged (im not the only one using it)
    thanks in advance

  5. Murray Snudge says:

     After I enter the command assign I get:
    Virtual Disk Service Error:
    Assigning or removing drive letters on the current boot or pagefile volume is not allowed

  6. Davelefurgey says:

    “This may vary.”  “Now it’s time for some digging.”  You have to be a geek to follow this unclear, maybe-it-might-work non-helpful writing.  I wouldn’t even attempt to do this.  It is useless to me.

  7. Furtado says:

    how to close the partition again…./

  8. ABDUL MANAN says:

    I GET AN ERROR =there is no volume specified
    please select a volume and try again

  9. Shubho says:

    You are a rockstar! This is exactly what I was looking for….it works like heaven! Thanks a ton….appreciate your hard work to put this together for tech retards like us!

Comments are closed.

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