Windows 10: Removing 'mystery' partitions after upgrade to Win 10

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  1.    20 Nov 2015 #1

    Removing 'mystery' partitions after upgrade to Win 10


    I've successfully installed Win 10 on 4 PCs with no problems so far, so I was asked to upgrade one of our office systems from Win 8.1 to Win 10. The unit was an ASUS with Win 8.1 OEM-installed and working, but missing almost all of the available Win 8.1 updates. All else looked good and Win 8.1 was working well.
    I updated the machine to current 8.1 maintenance level, and the 'Get Win 10' app appeared as expected. I did the upgrade with no problems, but then found that Win 10 Disk Management shows a very large C: partition (Win 10) and 4 small partitions marked 'healthy recovery partition'... and they all show 100% free space and have no drive letters.
    Right-clicking on those partitions offers no options at all other than 'Help'. Is there no way to get rid of these partitions within Windows? Or will I have to use GpartEd or equivalent? These partitions must have existed before the upgrade because I have not yet created any Win10 backups or recovery disks. I do have the Win 10 ISO files handy, so as a last resort I can do a full drive format and a clean install, but I'm curious about what might be hidden in those mystery partitions.
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  2. topgundcp's Avatar
    Posts : 1,993
    Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64 Win10Prox64
       20 Nov 2015 #2

    Those partitions are not empty, just hidden. Please post a screen shot of disk management then we can explain what they are.
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  3.    20 Nov 2015 #3

    From an elevated command prompt, type reagentc /info

    That will tell you which partition(s) are the active recovery partition(s).

    You can install MiniTool Partition Wizard which will let you manipulate the partitions with that program, such as assigning them drive letters to be able to get a clue what is on them. You will want to leave the active recovery partition there and there should be a small partition that has the boot files that you will need to leave.
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  4. topgundcp's Avatar
    Posts : 1,993
    Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64 Win10Prox64
       20 Nov 2015 #4

    NavyLCDR said: View Post
    From an elevated command prompt, type reagentc /info

    That will tell you which partition(s) are the active recovery partition(s).

    You can install MiniTool Partition Wizard which will let you manipulate the partitions with that program, such as assigning them drive letters to be able to get a clue what is on them. You will want to leave the active recovery partition there and there should be a small partition that has the boot files that you will need to leave.
    If you gonna use MiniTool then there's no need to assign letters or run reagentc. Just right click on the partition->Explore
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  5.    20 Nov 2015 #5

    topgundcp said: View Post
    If you gonna use MiniTool then there's no need to assign letters or run reagentc. Just right click on the partition->Explore
    And if MiniTool shows more than one recovery partition, then how do you know which one has the WindowsRE mapped for the recovery environment?
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  6. topgundcp's Avatar
    Posts : 1,993
    Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64 Win10Prox64
       20 Nov 2015 #6

    And if MiniTool shows more than one recovery partition, then how do you know which one has the WindowsRE mapped for the recovery environment?
    There's only one WinRE.wim in one of those partitions. The others might contain factory image, factory diagnostics.
    And not to mention that reagentc sometimes can't even locate the Recovery Tools (WinRE.wim).
    Last edited by topgundcp; 20 Nov 2015 at 18:33.
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  7.    20 Nov 2015 #7

    Hi,

    Upgrading from Win 10 build 10240 to 10586 created a new recovery partition chewed off the C:\ (system) drive.
    The original recovery partition contained winre.wim version 10240, the new one 10586 obviously.

    Having a recovery partition at the right of the system partition is a nuisance as it does not allow you to extend the system partition if and when needed. Either way, not a good idea.

    Easily solved with Macrium Reflect on EFI systems, a bit more tricky on legacy ones.

    The reason for the second recovery partition is so you can revert to the old version of the OS.
    Once you decide you don't want to keep that possibility you can back up the latest recovery partition using Macrium Reflect and restore it to where the original recovery partition was, iow overwrite it.
    On EFI systems Macrium takes care of everything and all should work well without further user intervention.
    On legacy systems using MBR schemes you can expect boot problems which you can easily fix using Macrium's rescue disk.
    There's a menu entry in the PE version to fix just that and it works just fine.

    Naturally there are several ways to skin that proverbial cat but this seems the fastest and safest way to go about it provided you make that equally "proverbial" backup before tampering with a working system.

    OEM recovery partitions can be backed up too and removed afterwards. I don't see much use for those unless you perhaps want to resell your system in a factory fresh state.

    Cheers,
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  8.    20 Nov 2015 #8

    There are two parts of a recovery partition that Windows 10, by itself, uses. This does not account for whatever extra stuff the computer manufacturer has added.

    There is the WindowsRE environment which is usually created by the installation of Windows. Yes, you can explore partitions inside MiniTool Partition Wizard which is actually very good for finding the WindowsRE directory and file, and I didn't know that until Topgundcp posted it. And he is also correct that reagentc may not have that location set. To set it, the easy way is to assign a temporary drive letter to the recovery partition that contains WindowsRE using MiniTool. Then the command is reagentc /setreimage /path r:\Recovery\WindowsRE. The path after /path would depend on the drive and folder containing the winre.wim file. This is necessary to create a recovery drive.

    The second purpose of a recovery partition is to hold the install.wim or install.esd file that is used to reset Windows 10. This is also necessary to create a recovery drive with the "copy system files" option selected. The install.wim file may be on the same recovery drive as WindowsRE or on a separate partition. The easy way to set this is also to assign a temp drive letter to the partition, and then reagentc /setosimage /path r:\Images - again the path being the driver letter and folder that contains install.wim or install.esd.

    Here's an example of what I have done. I bought a cheap tablet with Windows 8.1 on it. I imaged the entire "hard drive" using Macrium Reflect. I upgraded to Windows 10. I ended up with two recovery partitions - one from the old Windows 8.1 and one from the new Windows 10. I didn't know for sure that Windows 10 would be good on this tablet so I expanded the Windows 10 recovery partition which only had WindowRE in it, enough to hold the install.wim file from the old recovery partition. I copied the install.wim file from the old recovery partition to the new recovery partition. Then I made sure both /setreimage and /setosimage pointed to the correct folders in the new recovery partition, deleted the old recovery partition and added the empty space to my C: drive partition.

    So, what I ended up with was the Windows 10 Advanced Startup Options and if I chose to "reset" Windows from the Advaned Startup Options it would have restored the original Windows 8.1 from the install.wim file I copied. If I am sure I want Windows 10 for the reset, then I copy the install.wim file from the sources folder of the Windows 10 install media to the recovery partition. Oh, after setting the windowsre and osimage paths, turn on recovery with reagentc /enable.
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  9.    25 Nov 2015 #9

    bobrcnut Finally got a semblance of an answer to those mystery partitions after an OTA upgrade to Windows 10, after two-days of online search. Thanks to both topgundcp and NavyLCDR, not to mention bobrcnut for starting the thread.


    However, the last answer is a bit confusing for me, a basic user.


    I have downloaded the MiniTool partition manager to find out what is really in those drives (Disk manager showed no less than three recovery partitions besides OEM, EFI system and C drive). MiniTool is showing one more partition of 128MB.


    The contents are dated February of this year and June (when I bought the laptop). Only two of the hidden partitions -- WinReTools-750MB and the other 450MB partition show entries of 19 November, when I updated to Windows 10. The uber-mysterious 128MB does not even let me explore it.


    The 7GB partition shows it has an image file and is called PBR image.


    I want to get rid of only the 8.1-related drives and merge the space with my C drive and keep Windows 10-related partitions. My ultimate goal is to create a new drive for my files and stuff.


    I have come across all these terms (PBR, WindowRe, install.wim) but I am terrified of doing away with crucial links if I depend on my second-hand knowledge only. Request you to please take a look and give me some guidance.


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  10.    25 Nov 2015 #10

    Hi, any help with this?

    Some more details to explain these partitions:-
    1. The ESP partition, 500MB: Shows folders Dell, EN-US, Boot. The first two mostly (since I did not check everything) has files dated 15 February, 2015 (probably when the laptop was formated by the OEM?). Boot has 4 files dated 19 November, 2015, when I upgraded
    2. DIAGS, 40MB: Does not have any folders or dates
    3. Other, 128MB: Uber-mysterious, does not even let me explore using the tool
    4. WINRETOOLS, 750MB: Has System volume information folder which itself is dated 15 Feb, but has folders SPP and Online Metadata cache dated 19 Nov; has recovery folder, windowsre, logs with some entries dated Feb and August and September too. Has other files like HDD.hex, BOOT folder, Master.log, RP.CRC etc
    5. Disk 1 Partition 6, 450MB: Has System volume information, Recovery and WindowsRE folders with files dated 19 November only. (much less visible files than the previous partitions)
    6. PBR Image, 7.4GB: Has System volume information, Preload, PART001, AfterReset, DELL with subfolders Image, PART001, file RIP.CRC. Most of the files are dated February, two June, and only one visible file has the date of 19 Nov, called DONOTREPLACE.txt.
    ---there, have given as much details as I could. Do these make sense? Are there steps that I can take to bring all the Windows10-related recovery in one recovery drive for the computer to read when necessary and do away with Windows 8.1? I have a recovery USB drive for 8.1 made just before the update (in addition to an image backup).
    Last edited by Esskay8; 25 Nov 2015 at 20:38.
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