I've done a lot of work and research into this Dell HPA situation, for the last 3 years. Learned it inside and out.
There are a few things to know. TOO Much to go into without an IN-DEPTH 3-4 page ARTICLE. Yes, it really is that complicated. Essentially, if you are NOT getting what you want, go back to the beginning and start again. There's too many mistakes to be made that are SUCH A PAIN to correct, that either you wipe the drive and do it again, or edit the HPA and wipe the drive and do it again.
For those of you asking for
1) Media Direct
2) DSR images or info and files
There is something to understand.
EACH is tailored to
1) you HD size
2) Your notebook model
The fast and dirty method...
Check "Goodell" (goodell's) Website and READ IT ALL.
Print out the guide here- it works in most cases.
DL and try and learn how to use HDAT2 in dos format. Too complicated?
Then don't use or mess with your HPA or MD2, skip it and go to MD3+ which no longer does or uses all this rediculous tech stuff.
Lost your image or DSR structure? we can NOT help you- unless we
1) Have the same HD side
2) the same model laptop.
you run risks painful indeed in a restoration process should you seek to return to it in a crisis time otherwise.
I wrote a huge guide on it in notebook reviews, linked to this thread and other important links (forum name "TangoGrandma").
Essentially, this MD2 and ctrl+f11 was SOO TROUBLESOME that even the TECHS WHO INVENTED IT GAVE UP ON IT (Dell kept the ctrl+f11 to simplify consumer tech help, it's there to revert everything to shipped condition in case of troublesome and lengthy tech calls burning up their time).
One no longer needs the hidden restore image though with ghost and 8gb dvd's.
The restore image was/is a cool idea, but it's too problematic vs. simply burning an image to a dual-layer DVD and storing it in a safe place, which can be done in 10 minutes or so, vs the 10 DAYS it takes, of full time work to recreate and make a perfect restorable image for your Dell. Forget it.
By the way, the ctrl+f11 isn't something you LOOSE- it's part of the Dell BIOS. Unless you flash your bios with some custom made thing or hack it yourself, it's in there. If it doesn't find what it needs it simply either
1) skips it, or
2) assigns something else to be the boot partition than what you want.
(I.E. Welcome to Dell!).
Make a Boot CD with these things
Normal DOS bootable
That's all you need to fix everything.
And by the way, I ABSOLUTELY RECOMMEND REMOVING THE HPA.
It's a waste of space and a pain -REAL-pain if something goes wrong.
Again, simply burn your OS's and partitions to a 8gb DVD, or leave in a viewable partition.
The only REAL COOL thing anyone ever did with the MD button and restore function was rigging up the MD button to boot the machine into Linux (NICE!) and back out when done. SWEET! all that work though for
selecting the OS option
with a mouse?
I vote wipe the drive and the HPA off, and never use it again.
4 months from now you'll thank me.
I've been doing this stuff for almost 20 years.