Saturday, November 21, 2015

HP Pavilion a1630n Recovery of WinXP After Failed Win7 Upgrade

This is how I was able to access and run HP Recovery from the intact recovery partition after an unlicensed copy of Windows 7 had been installed on an HP Pavilion a1630n. If you have the proper Recovery media (discs) for your computer, you shouldn't need to use this procedure. Use your Recovery discs instead.

This computer came originally with Windows XP Media Center Edition. Someone had installed Windows 7 over that, I believe because they may have thought it would solve some issues that they were experiencing. At this point, it was unable to boot into any OS. As I recall, attempts to boot into Windows 7 resulted in a restart loop.

The installation of Windows 7 had somehow removed the ability to enter the HP Recovery application through standard means, which include pressing F10 at the BIOS splash screen.

I can't tell you this will work for every situation, every HP or even every specific model of Pavilion, but it's something you can try, or to at least get ideas from when trying to resolve your own similar situation. It may seem like a lot of steps, but that's only because I have it broken down to pretty much every click, keystroke or command as I try to be as clear as is possible and reasonable. It's really rather quick and simple overall. Yes, you could condense some of the steps if you know what you're doing. Good for you.

Things you'll need:
  • The computer you want to repair.
  • An intact recovery partition. If you're not sure it has this, give it a try, you might get lucky.
  • A valid Windows password, if one is assigned. If you're not sure whether you'll need one, try the procedure anyway, you might get lucky.
  • Some knowledge of DOS/console commands. (or check out the video)
  • The understanding that this will delete all data on your computer. This means your photos, music, documents, etc. Make sure that you have backed up any data you want to keep before doing this. You might be able to alter these instructions slightly to use a non-desctructive recovery method that will, in theory, not delete your personal data, but I have not tested that, nor have I provided instructions for such alternate methods here. Proceed at your own risk.
  • The means to reinstall any programs that did not come preinstalled on your computer originally. This may include Microsoft Office, or even drivers for any after market hardware that has been added, such as a wireless network card or printer. Think about this, because you might not be able to access the Internet post recovery, unless you are prepared. Just saying.


  1. Turn on the computer. At the BIOS splash screen, press the F10 key for System Recovery.
    Next I had some screen that said "Edit Windows boot options for: Windows 7". I don't know what the screen is for or why it came up, but I pressed the ESC key to continue.
  2. Select/highlight "Windows 7" (if it's not already) and press F8 at the "Choose an operating system to start" screen.
  3. Select/highlight "Repair Your Computer" (if it's not already) and press the ENTER key to continue.
  4. Click the 'Next' button on the window titled "System Recovery Options".
  5. Enter the Windows account password and click the 'OK' button.
    If you don't know the password, you can try to continue with leaving it blank. If that doesn't work you might be stuck and unable to continue. Be sure to try all user accounts available in the 'User name' drop-down list, if available.
  6. Click 'Command Prompt', typically the last option in the list.
  7. Change to the D: drive.
  8. CD to the "MiniNT" directory.
  9. CD to the "system32" directory.
  10. Run "Restore.exe". This should open the HP Recovery program.
  11. Select "Start PC Recovery" and click the 'Next' button.
  12. Click the 'OK' button on the useless Welcome screen.
  13. Click the 'Advanced Options' button.
  14. Select "Destructive Recovery" (if it's not already) and click the 'Next' button. Remember, this will delete all data on the computer.
  15. Click the 'Yes' button on the warning about your hard drive being reformatted. The recovery will then run to completion.
  16. Click the 'Restart' button when the recovery is finished.
    For me, this didn't actually restart the computer, but it did exit the HP Recovery program. If your computer does restart, you can skip the rest, otherwise keep going.
  17. Close the "Command Prompt" window.
  18. Click the 'Restart' button in the "System Recovery Options" window.
The computer should restart and boot into Windows XP successfully. Please let me know if this procedure worked for you, or how it may have helped you otherwise. Good luck!

Boot to system recovery options, command prompt, run the following:
Once recovery is complete, restart and you should be good to go.


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