Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Keeping occupied

Things have been a bit quiet here of late since I’ve been kept rather occupied due to a computer mishap on my parents’ machine. When I mean mishap, I mean that somehow the partition table or boot sector got corrupted and the computer would not boot Windows. And despite my best efforts in the recovery console, I wasn’t able to fix it either, so I’ve had to reinstall Windows on their computer.
Packard Bell, in their infinite wisdom, do not ship recovery disks with their machines – or any disks at all, actually, and what with it being the holiday weekend there was no way I was going to ask for one to be sent to us. In any case, Packard Bell put a lot of gunk on their computers which we don’t want (90 day trials of Norton Anti-Virus and Microsoft Office for example) and this would be put back on if we used their disks, no doubt. So I used the spare Windows disk from my dad’s laptop to get the thing up and running again, and I can now say it’s running well now. In fact, it’s quite a bit faster than it was, and the hard disk is larger because it doesn’t have a 5GB hidden partition where Packard Bell keep all of the uninstallers (so you can’t uninstall programs without using their uninstall tool and only remove the programs it allows you to remove).
I’m downloading Doctor Who at the moment, having missed it this evening since we were over at the relatives.


  1. Packard Bell still makes computers???
    In the 90s their hardware was the worst I ever had to deal with. If you wanted a cheap computer that broke often, Packard Bells are tops on the list.
    Sounds like they haven’t lost their touch either.

  2. As far as I know, NEC bought the rights to then Packard Bell name and use it for the home PC division.
    Hardware-wise the computer doesn’t seem to be too bad and we haven’t had a problem with it – it’s just I wish I could say the same about the software. Having checked the hard disk using a SMART reporting utility I can verify that it’s fine, so the problem was almost certainly software-related.

  3. My old circa 1998 Packard Bell came with a Recovery CD, Companion CD, and a Master Restore 3.5″ floppy, so apparently the old Packard Bell has something over the current company. Most of that PC has died by now, but I’m still using its (albeit tiny by today’s comparisons) HDD.

  4. HOW did you remove the hidden partition?
    My Packard-Bell of 1999 came with 2 CDs.
    When I changed the HDD, I didn’t have an operating system so I decided to use the Packard Bell CDs.
    After installation, 4 GB had disappeared – the famous hidden partition. It is really hidden: it doesn’t show up in FDISK, nor in the partition programme that I used before installing Linux (Mandriva 9.0).