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Many machines come with a portion of their hard disk set aside as a recovery partition. When visible as a drive, some maintenance operations are safe.
I have a Compaq notebook with Vista Home Premium 32 bit. HP/Compaq machines have D:\ recovery partitions, and I'd like to know if I cam run Clean Disk, Check Disk, and Defrag on D:\.
Vista from HP has by default C:\ and D:\ on a monthly defrag schedule. My Security program tells me C:\ is 1% fragmented and D:\ is 15% and recommends I defrag D:\. My security program just sees D:\ as a drive and not a recovery partition I assume. So, I don't know if I am allowed to defrag D:\ or perform any basic maintenance on it. I also don't understand how D:\ got 15% fragmented to begin with.
Personally I'm amazed at how little information manufacturers give you sometimes about how they decided to set up your machine. HP and Compaq aren't the only ones to create a D:\ partition and use it for recovery, my Dell laptop came the same way.
I mean, they could at least tell you what's on it and what it's for.
So, what's safe to do to it?
First realize that it's not just your security program that sees D:\ as "just another drive", because that's exactly what it is: just another logical drive. A portion of your hard disk that's been partitioned off to appear as a second drive letter. No more, no less.
What makes it the recovery partition is what your manufacturer puts on it, and the tools that know what should be there should you ever need to perform a recovery.
So, with that in mind:
Defrag: go for it. Like you I'm surprised it came fragmented, but there's nothing at all wrong with defragmenting (or "defragging") it. Given that the drive is never used otherwise, you'll probably only need to do that once.
Chkdsk: go for it. It better show no errors, though, otherwise I'd be concerned that the contents of the recovery partition may be corrupt. That's good to know now, as opposed to later when you actually need it.
Clean up: it's probably safe, but in all honesty, I'd avoid it. The problem is that we don't really know with absolute certainty that a cleanup wouldn't delete something important. Almost by definition everything on the recovery partition is there for a reason, and even if not, that's the assumption we need to make. (Mine even has a recycle bin with deleted files. My guess is that's just being sloppy, but I'm not going to take the risk; I'm leaving it alone, just in case.)
Now, there is another alternative.
Do nothing. Ignore it. Don't touch it.
The recovery partition is not part of your normal, day-to-day use of your machine. Defragging it won't help you in any way. Chkdsk might tell you of a problem ahead of time, but if the recovery partition's never been used the chance of there being a problem are very small. And cleaning up the drive, besides having a small chance of deleting something important, also won't help you, and won't free up any space that you'd actually use.
So while some things are safe to do, doing nothing is also very safe. In fact, perhaps the safest of all.
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