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Weekly Tech Brief Updates For Today! 12/10/2003

Patriotism - Home Of The Free, Land Of The Brave! Compassion For All!

Hard Drive Host Protected Area (HPA):

By George Walker & Joe Whinery

Gigabyte’s recent Motherboards provide a feature allowing information contained in the first partition of the Hard Drive to be copied to a hidden partition on the same drive where it is immune from attack.

Gigabyte’s name for their process is Xpress Backup. A general description of Gigabyte’s Xpress Recovery can be viewed on their Web site. More detailed information can be obtained in a motherboard manual that supports the HPA ( Host Protected Area ) feature i.e. GA-7N400 Pro2 page 84.

On motherboards with the HPA feature incorporated in the BIOS, the Xpress Recovery feature can be activated using the F9 key on startup. A menu will allow: the creation of the HPA file, restoring the information to the first partition and the removal of the hidden partition. The size of the Hidden partition will be equal to the space used on the first partition. If the Hard Drive does not support HPA, the message will not be presented.

The Xpress feature only works with the HD connected to IDE 1 Master and the first partition must be the boot partition. ( Primary and active , and containing the necessary system files required to boot the machine )

If the HPA is removed from the HD the area of use will be available at the end of the drive as “Unallocated”

A second way of activating the Xpress Backup feature is by booting the computer from the motherboard CD. This procedure is explained in the GA-7N400 Pro2 manual.

It may be possible to use the Xpress Backkup feature on other Motherboards, if the Motherboard CD is available for boot up. The motherboard CD that is used is processor dependent i.e. If the Motherboard CD was for use with an AMD processor it will not work with other processors. This also may not work with an older BIOS or motherboards that do not specifically support HDA.

This process is similar to the Recovery CDs that come with brand computers such as Dell, Compaq, HP and others.

Caution! While this will help you recover from a corrupted operation system (or system crash), it will not help in the event of a hard disk failure.

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