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This should be simple but I cannot figure out how to do it. I've been dual booting Ubuntu and Vista for a while. About 8 months ago, I realized my windows partition got corrupted and wouldn't boot. This wasn't a problem since I didn't need it anyway, but now I do need windows.

Using the disk manager I can see a partition called Toshiba System Volume which is 1.6 GB and one called HDD Recovery which is 7.8 GB. I assume the second one is what I need and I'm not sure what the first one is for. Anyway, how do I boot to this one? Is it a matter of configuring GRUB to boot to it? Once I do boot to it will it let me only reformat my windows partition, or is it going to restore the entire hard drive to factory condition? I assume I'll get the general windows installer which lets me choose the partition but, as you can probably tell, I've never used a recover partition.

Should I burn the contents of the partition to a disk and boot to that? Sorry if this is obvious but I'm confused and cannot figure this out.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Recovery partitions usually work differently for each computer manufacturer. For Toshiba it looks like you must start your windows installation, and press F8 before windows starts loading, then select Repair you computer. If your windows partition is too damaged you might be unable to do this. Here is a quick how-to

If it works you are not going to get the normal windows installer, but some kind of custom installation, probably based on images. The outcome I'd expect is that it'll wipe all of your hard disk. Judging by the screenshots on the Toshiba page, I'd bet that it will delete your Ubuntu install.

Your best bet is to get a normal windows installation disk. As long as it's the same version and edition (e.g., XP Professional) as the one shipped with your computer it should work. Remember to put the serial number that is on a sticker on your computer, not the one from the disk. And even this is going to hose your Ubuntu install, as it will overwrite grub. You will need to boot from a live-CD/live-USB and restore it.

And remember to make a copy of your data before trying anything like this.

The windows serial number sticker is something like this:

image of windows CD with sticker

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+1 for backup ;) – Takkat Jan 5 '11 at 15:08
I'm at work so I can't try this until later, maybe this weekend, but you provided all the information I needed. I think I can get a windows disk and do a regular install and then restore grub. What do you mean by a serial number that is in a stick in my computer? Last I checked there are no sticks in there, just lots of metal and plastic computer chip looking things :-P – Andy Groff Jan 5 '11 at 18:41
Computers with windows preloaded should have a stick with an Hologram, the windows logo, and a serial number somewhere in the box. It's usually at the bottom in laptops and in the side of desktops. BTW, all of this windows talking is way offtopic here. – Javier Rivera Jan 6 '11 at 22:22
The 'how-to' link appears to be broken. Probably could be removed without much damage to the answer. – belacqua Sep 4 '11 at 3:37
It's not a stick, it's a sticker. It's also usually on the outside of the computer. Also, that number on it is not a serial number. It is a Windows Product Key that may be needed during installation. – FuzzyToothpaste Oct 14 '14 at 18:45

Did you get any error when you tried to boot into Windows? Try command sudo update-grub to update grub and try to boot in windows again. And don't forget to type here if you got any error while botting in Windows(e.g. missing file: blah.dll).

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