Dell/MediaDirect wiped my data!

I’ve used Dell laptops for a while and when I was looking for a new one about a month ago I was interested in a Dell Vostro as I’d read good things. One of the good things I’d read was that you could order it without all the crapware that comes installed on most machines these days.

So I brought a Vostro 1400 and was pretty pleased with it. One of the first things I did was *wipe all the partitions* on the drive and set it up to dual boot between Windows Vista and Ubuntu – with a nice big partition to store my data. This could then be accessed from both Vista and Ubuntu – ideal.

But yesterday, when the machine was switched off, I accidentally hit the button next to the power button when switching it on – the MediaDirect button. What happens next is that the system powers on and then boots from a ‘Hidden Protected Area’ of the hard drive that wasn’t visible from Linux so hadn’t been removed when I repartitioned the drive. This tries to start MediaDirect, but obviously it couldn’t find the MediaDirect partition (as I had removed it when I installed Vista & Ubuntu) so it *automatically* deleted my ‘Data’ partition and recreated a partition ready for MediaDirect. Yep, no warning, no clue as to what it was doing – just repartitioned my drive.

Whoever thought up that idea *is an idiot!* Just one popup message would have been really nice – “We’re going to repartition your drive and wipe your data – continue Yes/No”

I’m really surprised at Dell. I’ve now taken steps to remove MediaDirect from my laptop completely but Dell really should give people the option not to have this junk installed by default.

Luckily I was able to recover my data (hours of raw and edited video footage) but it’s definitely left a bitter taste.

There is lots more inforation about this issue on the web and here are some links. Included in these is how I recovered my data (look for testdisk) and how I wiped the HPA of the drive (look for dd)