Monday, January 14, 2008

Flaws in HP Recovery Manager

This posts shares some major drawbacks I’m experiencing in Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ) Recovery Manager software. (Recovery Manager is a software shipped with computer systems using which it is possible to retrieve your files when a system has crashed and you’re unable to boot)

This is how HP recovery manager works:

1. Insert Recovery disc you might have created for your new laptop

2. You may opt to take backup of the files existing in your HDD or proceed and restore the system to factory condition.


If I choose to take backup of the files, the application asks me “what all type of files you want to take backup”. I can choose out of a set of options like photos, videos, songs, documents etc. Once I select my preferences (like “retrieve all documents and photos, ignore other contents” it asks me to insert a USB device into which the data can be backed up.

Theoretically that looks fine. But this entire process just didn’t serve my purpose last time when my system had to be reset to factory condition. Besides other files, I had a word document, in .docx format (Microsoft needs to stay in Business by bringing in new files extensions ;) ), on which I had spent nearly 7 days of effort.

Problem starts here:

One: The application doesn’t tell you what all files it is backing up and what all it is ignoring. It doesn’t allow you to select a specific file.

Two: It doesn’t tell how much space the USB device in which contents are being backed up should have. I inserted 2 GB pen drive, it said there’re not enough space. I could proceed with backup only when I connected a 120GB USB hard drive. (120GB HDD to backup a 20kb word file!-Not everyone will keep a 120GB HDD on standby)(Total backedup files measured around 30GB space, due to the format in which backup files were created by the recovery manager. The contents I could make use of, was less than 1 GB- All I was interested was one single .docx file sized less than 150 kb)

It doesn’t recognize many of the file formats. For example it didn’t recognize .docx as a word document and didn’t back up the same. I just lost it forever. Similarly I’m sure it wont backup several other formats crucial for certain people (You might be working on specific files depending on your work. If HP RM cant backup those files you’re at risk of loosing them)

Is it not possible to design a recovery software which gives me access to the directories and lets me select what files I need and what I don’t? (Instead of blindly saying “backup all music files”)

Since this is a recovery software and I can create recovery disc only once, I’m stuck with this incompetent utility for rest of the life of my HP laptop. (I.e. it is not possible to fix this problem by means of patches, updates etc)

Anyone has got any work around?

I’m not sure how recovery softwares of Sony, Dell and other notebook vendors work. Someone using those products please write your observations.

Update: This review, cross posted on Mouthshut was identified as review of the day on 7th Feb 2008.

Related: HP vs Dell vs Sony vs LG vs Lenovo vs Acer vs Sahara vs other notebooks


rambhai said...

thanks for the information ~~well i use the sony vaio laptop~~i have never configured this problem~~~why dont you write to HP anout the problem they will be able to fix it appropriately

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I will do that. But they can only rectify this in future releases.

Saurabh Shah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Darlene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darlene said...

Whoops, I missed the boat on my first comment. I did read all the post, but got caught up in the last bit and forgot that the computer wasn't booting.

So a couple of questions. Why wasn't the computer booting? Sometimes there are ways to get a computer to boot without doing a reformat - like using a virus recovery program to fix messed up files.
Did you try ghosting your HD to another HD, thereby saving the files?

Ok, I deserve to have my computer fry for this bit of hypocrisy, but
if you had a multi-gig flash drive, why didn't you back up your computer on a regular basis? It won't help for the lost file, but it will help for future disasters - which seem to come along on a semi-regular basis. If you do a back up each week, you would only need to back up the files you have changed in the last week. So the first time, it would take an hour or so to find and back up all the files you want to keep. But there after, it should only take a few minutes. Having said that, please don't ask me when the last time I backed up my files. (blush) (But I will add, that the only medium I can afford is CD's and it takes a bunch to back up my stuff to start with. Of course, that won't help a bit if I get zapped, now will it. lol)

Have you tried a recovery program that can sometimes recover stuff from a HD?

Shrinidhi Hande said...


1. It didn't boot because of blue screen error.

Virus recovery programs can't be used if system is not booting.

If it was a desktop I would have removed the HD and connected it to another system and recovered the file, but I decided not to experiment with laptop hardware, atleast for an year.

Well, I do take back up once a week. Just that in this case it crashed before I could take a back up hence lost one week's effort.

Haven't tried other recovery programs yet.

Thanks for the detailed comment. Hope I answered all your comments.

Anonymous said...

This can't help you today, but great for the future...I currently have several PC's running XP and Win98SE.

The most valuable program I have ever installed is "GoBack". Works on the BSOD, viruses, just about anything. No data loss whatsoever. You can "goback" to right before whatever problem you have, even without the operating system.

I do not know if it runs under vista, but if not, a close second appears to be RollbackRx by Horizon.

Finally, for critical data, back up daily to an external HDD that does not remain connected to the PC.

Good Luck!


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Comments received for this post at

Comments on this review (21)
Chintu25 Star Writer said:
Jan 21, 2008 02:21 PM

Hi Shrini..

Glad u wrote this one, my fren too has this laptop and its better to be aware of such a flaw..
And i think my bro might have some solution to ur prob...I’ll ask him & get back to you..

Keep writing

enidhi said:
Jan 21, 2008 02:59 PM

That’s so kind of you. Thanks in advance.

Kweldebs said:
Jan 21, 2008 03:04 PM

Very informative Shrini.

Thanks for such a detailed review ...

rohankaikini said:
Jan 21, 2008 03:20 PM

hi Shrinidhi,
there is a workaround.. if you can arrange for a Linux Ubuntu 7.10 Live CD.. it is generally available free for download, or you can even get it delivered to your doorstep free of cost (just search for ’’shipit ubuntu’’ on the net).. it might take some time.. so better if you can get it from some geek.. just insert the cd, and boot through the cd, and you will be able to see all your files in Linux.. then you have to connect any pen drive or external harddisk and take backup..
hope this helps..
nitesh1104 Star Writer said:
Jan 21, 2008 03:22 PM

Good techie-talk.... your reviews are always full of knowledge....

Ambuj :)

enidhi said:
Jan 21, 2008 05:02 PM

@ Debs,


@ Rohan Kaikini,
Thanks for the tip. I understand there’re alternate ways to recover contents from corrupt system-I can always connect my had disc to another system, make my disc as slave and extract files.I know that. I was interested in knowing if there;s any work around for the Hp recovery manager to do the same.

Thanks again.

Ambuj, Thanks.
coolamit79 said:
Jan 21, 2008 05:43 PM


Only workaround i can suggest is :

DONT trust shipped recovery managers with laptops. They would always fall short.

And one suggestion too: Make a habit of making regular backups of your critical files at not just one but atleast two different backup locations (my suggestion wud be one pen drive and one USB disk dirve). This comment is coming from someone who learnt the lesson the hard way.
rohitthebest Star Writer said:
Jan 21, 2008 05:44 PM

Yes, I too use a manual back up almost every month on my machine and dont trust these back up software and applications.

Manual is always better.
Keeping a copy stored in a spare HDD.
thakurman said:
Jan 21, 2008 06:45 PM

Bah... Another linux fanatic... We talk about windows and we are bound to see linux and Mac fanatics... Humbug!
Recovery options with HP are as below.

Destructive recovery or factory settings - a complete format and reinstall
Non destructive recovery - Reinstalls OS and only saves your my documents which you can recover from safe mode.

Note that these options are provided by MS which are defined by HP as such. What HP does is not install the files, but only ’places’ the files after a format. If you want to add the new file types, then you can add it to recovery manager. You can modify it by learning it from a HP chat support technician. (Help and support options)

All hardware vendors offer their own customized options in recovery. However most like IBM (Lenovo) and Dell offer solutions which are mostly legacy. IBM for ex., offers a third party software recovery which allows you to recover when you boot up the system. However what happens when you have issues with this software?!? You will find that certain versions are no longer supported!

Personally, I feel the personal media drive provided by HP on its Media center PCs is one of the best options as it allows you to backup at any point of time. But with laptops, ah! that’s another ball alltogether...

But as Rohit says, there is no better option than saving those important files in online storages... (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo)

vishalvkale01 Star Writer said:
Jan 21, 2008 08:46 PM

Hi Enidhi

Despite being a techie myself, my trust in computers ranges between -100 to -200 degrees!!!!!

Me, I do not use any of the high-fangled devices. My recovery disks are lying thankfully unused in my desk drawer, my laptop diskspace is blissfully empty of any backup material!

I backup on my company’s mail network. That way, I can blame the IT department when I miss schedules coz’ of computer problems!!!!

As a second option, copies on CDs

Third, prints of all important docs in files with my secretary!!!!!!!

My company has, with remendous foresight provided me me ALL of the best softwares, alongwith a list of instructions, which are dutifully followed to the last letter {yaar, naukri hai - kaun panga le mgmt se}

BUT LEKIN PARANTU KINTU I have never resorted to them. My own system takes less disk space by the simple expedient of zipping and mailing to self on company address.

The data integrity is maintianed, as the data does not leave company network at any time, and back - up is also had!


sarav said:
Jan 22, 2008 08:29 AM


can’t help much.:-(
i helped a friend using the alternate OS and pen drive approach as his recovery software did not work and he had run out of warranty for support.

But your revu asserts, recovery softwares suck, be it HP or IBM.


enidhi said:
Jan 22, 2008 08:30 AM

Hi Amit,

I agree...we should have multiple business continuity plans...

enidhi said:
Jan 22, 2008 08:32 AM


Yes-Manual backups are more reliable-but we sometime feel lazy to do it regularly and regret later...

enidhi said:
Jan 22, 2008 08:36 AM


Thanks for the detailed comment.

Yes, online storage is good option, but downside is the size limitation.

I will check with HP support as to how I can add new file types.

enidhi said:
Jan 22, 2008 08:39 AM


Good idea to blame IT department :) But loss will be ours.

I am sure there’ll be a limitation to mailbox size. Alternate plans will be necessary when dealing with personal files or with huge size of data.

A pen drive is a good option.

enidhi said:
Jan 22, 2008 08:41 AM


Yes, as long as hard disc is intact it is possible to recover the files. I didn’t knew that HP recovery manager doesn’t recognize .docx as word document. Else I would have tried something else.
Chintu25 Star Writer said:
Feb 07, 2008 12:02 PM


Congrats for ROD :-)


Apna Sapna More & More Points©
anilkumarav said:
Feb 07, 2008 12:35 PM

if you are using windows xp there is a little hope. insert windows xp bootable cd. cd will boot. choose Repair option R when it comes to install on the blue screen. in this way you can recover your files.

option 2 . if you have another partion that is D:, install win-xp in that partion for temporarly and back up ur files.

option 3. Using our Linux. Get a linux live cd with any linux magazine. insert and boot from cd. you are now in linux os. now back up any word file which you want.

enidhi said:
Feb 07, 2008 12:40 PM

@Smita: Thanks.

@Anil: Thanks for the tips.. I was not looking for how to recover my files but was asking if there’s any way of tweaking with recovery manager to overcome the said flaws..
vishalvkale01 Star Writer said:
Feb 07, 2008 03:00 PM

Hi Enidhi...

R O T D ! Great: Congratulations are in order



enidhi said:
Feb 07, 2008 05:59 PM

Hi Vishal,

Thanks for the wishes..

Warm Regards

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ SteveG

Thanks for your comments.

BR said...

Hey guys, I hope I am not too late with the comment..that is that it still will be read...
When you restore/reformat hard drive not everything gets erased. It just erases 'table of contents' so to speak so the computer does not know where to look for the stuff. One can still run data recovery software (Data Recovery Wizard Pro being a really good one!) even after the reinstallation and find the data they thought were lost. The programs are usually straight forward as long as you read the instructions and options on each page (which most of us don't do!!!).
One of the recommendations that even a software itself gives you is that you try and install it on an external drive so you don't overwrite the data you are trying to recover.
Also, you should take care to place the recovered data on an external drive for the very same reason.
I wish you luck.

Data Loss and Recovery after Re-installation of Windows XP said...

Data Loss and Recovery after Re-installation of Windows XP