HP Hard Drive DMI and Motherboard Tattoo Issues

| March 1, 2012 | 6 Comments

When most people think of the word “tattoo”, they think of the gnarly tat they got on spring break in Panama on a location of their body they would rather forget about.  Enough about my troubles (just kidding family, no Panama tattoos here).  HP has a different idea of the word.  HP, at least when I had to deal with their systems under warranty about a year ago, would have a service technician tattoo a replacement motherboard after the physical install.  Some times a Hard Drive DMI update was required as well to get everything copacetic again.  When your HP Recovery CDs throw certain errors or your motherboard is not playing nice with your Hard Drive recently shipped from HP, this information could lead you in the right direction or at least help you question HP.

What is Tattooing / DMI And A Code Purple?

DMI stands for Desktop Management Information and is a multiple set of characters specific to your system of which that information can be found on the PC itself.  Tattooing is taking information from a system and applying it discretely to the hardware to avoid licensing issues and Microsoft has a hand in its implementation.  If the Hard Drive DMI and Motherboard do not match up, it will not work correctly which is why they state to run the Motherboard tattoo process first, then DMI Utility on the hard drive.  You are supposed to do this upon installation of a new motherboard or hard drive according to HP.  If you see this “Code Purple” after attempting to use your Recovery Disc set, then you have some tattooing to do.  You would need to get your hands on the software, but the techspot download link doesn’t work anymore.  I’m currently in the process of tracking down a legit copy of the HDD and Motherboard programs.  HP will supposedly help for a fee, $249, that is not cheap.  There are ways around this though.  Either make a backup using a third party like Acronis or Ghost and you will not need to worry about seeing that dreaded error message.  Or you can install off of a store bought XP/Vista/7 disc which will not have to look for the DMI, plus you wont get all of the bloatware that HP packages on its default systems.

Tattooing your System

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the Hard Drive DMI Utility and the Motherboard DMI Utility, then you are a step ahead of most.  It should be in a secure ZIP which is password protected.  Now if you can get the password or get around it, we then get to create some bootable media.  After making the bootable floppy or CD/DVD, you need to gather some information off of the computer itself.  Information such as the Build ID, Serial Number, HWBOM, RIN, Product Number, etc.  You will need all of this information to preform the flash.  Use that acquired information to do the flash and your Motherboard should be tattooed.  Now you can run the Hard Drive DMI Utility to get it to accept the new motherboard tattooed information.

Peek at the PDF docs that I found for a better explanation: PDF Document on the Tattooing Procedure for a HDD and Motherboard

Summary

While there are ways around it like a store bought OS disk or using a third party backup and restore disc, this is a real problem with some older (3 plus years) computers.  While working in the forums I have seen issues similar to this which is why I wrote this article, to spread the word.  There is also a known issue with recovery disc sets that will not load onto a hard drive that hadn’t had a MBR on it before.  There are ways around that as well as a Cyberlink utility to help with that.  See the HP Forums Discussion on Tattooing as they discuss this a little as well as what we have talked about above.  They also say you shouldn’t have this issue if you replaced the HDD with a new one, just when either using a used hard drive formerly installed in an HP.  I know within the last couple years they abandoned the Hard Drive Utility and since none of their links work in the PDF, possibly the Motherboard one officially as well.  Hopefully you don’t have to deal with this situation.  HP doesn’t do this anymore and hasn’t for a couple years to my knowledge.  They are a very respectable company and I still refer people to them to this day.  It’s just that the above was a bit of a snafu on their end and Microsoft.

Category: HP

Rob Walls

About the Author ()

IT Admin in Southern Illinois. Previously Apple Certified Technician with 9 years in the IT/repair world. Writer for PCTechbytes.com and assist in the forum.Have a PC/Mac issue, check out our helpful forums

Comments (6)

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  1. Lisa says:

    Great Information, Thank you!

  2. Scott says:

    Customer brought in a HP desktop with a dead drive. Ordered a replacement drive and a set of HP 64-bit Vista disks (had a 32, but she had 8g ram). Since she’s a student, and needed the machine ASAP, I formatted a loaner hd and shoved it in. Drive came in, and disks, but got a code purple with the new drive install.

    Had one more install left on a family pack and attempted that. System wouldn’t even allow it. Me thinks that HP is not on my Christmas list–except with a lump of coal.

  3. carol slagle says:

    hi dr bob. i have a hp pavillion a375c . i replaced the hard drive. the restore cds sent from hp when computer was new, does not work ” system restore cds are not for this pc”
    -the motherboard specs are here: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00041640&lc=en&cc=us&dlc=en&product=376094#c00041640_doc
    -the system specs are here: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?lc=en&cc=us&dest_page=product&dlc=en&product=376094&docname=c00043812

    the computer is all factory stock. i have the stickers that came on the pc still attached. can i get the tattoo disc so i can re-tattoo the motherboard and the other disc for the hard drive as well. i will try the motherboard tattoo first and see if the restore discs will work, if no go, i will have to tattoo the hard drive as well.
    thank you for any help,
    carol

    • Rob Walls Dr_Bob says:

      Is it giving one of the errors listed in the article? Have you tested the RAM, the new Hard Drive, or investigated any other possibilities for the failure? Having to tattoo a motherboard or HDD is relatively rare especially with PCs about 3 years old or newer. HP did abandon the tattooing on the later models. I believe I have a tattoo ISO hiding somewhere. I would advise making a posting on our forums and I can Private Message you a link to them if we cannot fix this problem outright.

      Forum link – http://www.pctechbytes.net

  4. Josh says:

    It seems that go2techonline.com is not accessible. I would like to have a copy of the document Tattoo_DMI_Utility_Instructions_v5.pdf and the tattoo ISO.

    I have a DV7-1245dx which is not accepting any of the three sets of recovery disks sent to me by HP.

    I would like to share my experience with HP on this problem, and the technical details of my situation in a posting on the forum.

    I hope to catch you on the shout box, or hear from you here or in the forum. My user name is Mainsail.

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