OK some good news. I called the Asus call centre and they informed me that the Recovery disc would be able to reinstall Vista and get the computer back to factory standard.
Huh? Wow! I thought deleting the hidden partition containing the backup data would render the Recovery Disc useless. Apparently not.
So I guess I wasted the last 24 hours crying like a little schoolgirl over nothing.
Well, that's a relief.
It seems Asus (as well as other notebook makers) builds their machines are special way - so the normal Vista software doesn't install properly- as I discovered.
I inserted the disk and he told him to go for option 3. Partition both drives. Thankfully, I at least had the brains to recall my Data was still stuck on "D" drive so I installed Vista on the 1st partition.
Now, in the past, Microsoft OS had a disgruntled gangster bikie librarian attitude and could be to expected shove its data and kill everything else on the hard drive, including your precious collection of photos and videos.
It will do this even though you had the data stored onto a separate hard drive.
Be very careful about this. One small push of the button and you just deleted forever your PhD thesis on how to bake the perfect scone.
To cut a long story short - I installed Vista on the 1st partition and it didn't fubar on me.
Then I realized I didn't turn the HD to enhanced mode. I turned it on and it didn't seem to cause a problem. But I couldn't get the ethernet driver to work - meaning no internet connection. A couple of driver installations later and no magic. I also installed some of the drivers in the wrong sequence.
Paraonia set in. Its a bit like baking a cake and then wondering where your pet hamster disappeared to.
So I put in the recovery disc and redid it again. This time round I got a few more options. I installed the drivers in the right sequence, starting with the Intel inf.
And I got internet!!! Hooray
Deleting the hidden partition turns out to be a blessing in disguise cos otherwise Asus would have preloaded all its bloatware onto the system and screwed it up again.
I wish I could design a "Gauntlet of Pain" and get MS staff and the various computer manufacturers to do various tasks whilst being shot at by paintball guns.
Losers also get canned by Chinese language school teachers if their computers are inexplicably slow, their software fails etc..
You can sue doctors if they are negligant in their work. But for some reason you can't seem to do a damn thing to the computer programmers.
Anyways, I spend the last 12 hours reinstalling the software and updating Vista.
At least I didn't have to courier the machine to the computer repair shop.