Cloning HP Digital Senders

HP offers a neat series of devices called Digital Senders, which have the capability to scan papers and email a PDF all with the touch of a button. While the newer models like the 9200c work, the older — and discontinued — 9100c is still far more popular in office environments. As with all things digital, they occasionally decide to stop working, often at the most inconvenient time. The most common point of failure in Digital Senders is the built-in hard drive, which is used for storing the operating system, address book, and other critical information. HP offers replacement drives, but they cost a small fortune. Fortunately, the replacements are run-of-the mill 3 to 10 GB hard drives (worth only a fraction of the price HP would have you pay).

If you have more than one 9100c, a spare hard drive, a standard desktop PC, and a copy of Norton Ghost 2003, you can clone the working Digital Sender and bring the broken one back to life. Personally, I’ve had great success cloning 9100c hard drives using Ghost, however it took a bit of work to get that far.

By default, Norton Ghost clones partitions between hard drives while simultaneously resizing them such that the destination uses all available space — a feature usually taken for granted. This is great when moving an install of Windows XP from one hard drive to another, but having the maximum available space is hardly a concern in a Digital Sender. This feature can also cause some cloned drives to fail, as the device expects the partition sizes to be within certain ranges. Thankfully, a simple “-IR” (Image Raw) switch can force Ghost to do a bit-for-bit copy, ignoring partitions and unused data alike. When using this option, the destination partitions remain the same size despite the likely increase in total available disk space. After all, a 5 or 10 GB IDE hard drive is impossible to find in stores, these days.

Using a working 9100c Digital Sender hard drive as a source disk, it’s a good idea to first upgrade the software on it using HP’s tools and reset it to factory defaults in the Shift-Alt-Green, Tools menu. While this is not a necessary step, it’s generally good practice to have the newest Digital Sender software, and to get the configuration as close to the defaults as possible to avoid any conflicts. After resetting it to factory defaults, the Digital Sender will reboot. While the initial RAM test is onscreen, switch it off (similar to pulling the plug on a desktop computer while it’s running POSTs — before the system begins to load and the hard drive gets changed in any way).

With an “untouched” and factory-default 9100c hard drive in hand, it can then be attached to the IDE bus of your computer in Master configuration (the default for 9100c Digital Senders). Then, connect a Slave drive of slightly larger size, as the -IR switch can only copy a drive to one of exactly equal or greater size. Make a Ghost boot disk, and when prompted for any additional switches, enter “-IR”. In the disk creation summary, you can see that ghost.exe is being called by “ghost.exe -IR”. Once the disk is made, boot the computer and use Ghost’s “To Disk” command to copy the 9100c drive to the larger one. Be very careful not to overwrite your good hard drive with the blank one! Since the -IR switch is set, Ghost will pay no attention to partitions as it usually does. Cloning the disk will take a good 10 minutes, since it will be copying several gigabytes bit-for-bit. When done, set the newly cloned Slave drive to Master, and the 9100c should boot off of it without a hitch.

Symantec maintains a list of useful Ghost commands here. Note that the -IR switch is the most “raw” one available, as it does not modify any portion of the data — not even the partition map (as the -ID switch may). For this reason, your clone destination drive must be the same size or larger. A smaller disk simply cannot contain all the data from the source disk, even if the bits technically aren’t used by the Digital Sender.

So far, my experiments have worked with every brand hard drive I’ve tried, with sizes ranging from 5 to 40 GB. This is, of course, after many hours of testing, trials, and errors. If anyone has questions regarding 9100c hard drive cloning, feel free to comment.

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Cloning HP Digital Senders

13 thoughts on “Cloning HP Digital Senders

  1. Unfortunately, I don’t have an image or drive with the 9100c software on it outside of my work.

    Also, the smallest drive I have is about 6.5 GB, and since it needs to be cloned bit-for-bit, it would make for a rather large image. I suppose there would be a lot of unused space, so it may compress very well. That’s something to look into.

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  2. Dave says:

    I’m looking to do just what you are talking about. Unfortunately, I do not have a working 9100C hard drive to clone. I tried buying one on e-bay just to clone the drive, but got out-bid at the last second. Do you have a working drive to sell?

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  3. E.F.Redham says:

    Even a 40MB IDE disk is pretty hard to find. Have you tried a larger disk (120MB+) with the 32MB limiting jumper (if you can even find on of those). Any idea what is the maximum disk size it will support?

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  4. I wouldn’t worry too much about disk sizes.

    For one, you should still be able to find 40 GB disks. I’ve bought a number of 10 GB disks via eBay in the past month or so. I’m not sure what the maximum supported size is, but it’s either 137 GB or much, much higher. I believe the ATA-66 standard limits drives to 137 GB, but the ATA-100/133 bus can go into the terabyte range.

    Judging by the 9100C’s age, I would not be surprised to find if it has an ATA-66 bus and is limited to 137 GB. Thankfully, IDE drives below that capacity should be available for the forseeable future.

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  5. Mike says:

    I have a 9200C and the HD just died. Tried to read it in an notebook IDE USB enclosure and it just ticks.

    I have a spare 20 gig HD here I want to swap in but don’t have a source for a 9200c image, can anyone make an ISO?

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  6. Mike says:

    Ok found how to initilize the new disks in a 9200C Digital Sender, coped from HP forum:

    “OK here it is… turn on the unit wait for all three lights to light up they will only be lit for a few seconds… then hold down the start button wait till all three lights light up and stay on… 10 sec… then hit #5 wait 10 sec then hit #6…”

    It works! The timing is critical, but finally our 9200c has risen from the ashes!

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  7. Dwayne says:

    I’m in desperate need of a 9100C image. We have 3 dead ones and the 4th is about to go.

    Can anyone help? r6racer790 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    Thanks!

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