Depends on the manufacturer, some companies make it more difficult than others. Usually all you would have to do to access the partition is disable the startup program designed to lock you out of it. To figure that out go into the msconfig menu (Start>Run>"msconfig") and look under the startup tab. The program you are looking for may not have an obvious name, so you might want to look up the ones you don't recognize on Process Library (http://www.processlibrary.com/
). Once you've disabled that program you should be able to access the partition normally, however once getting to this point you may realize that the information is using a specific type of compression designed by the manufacturer to keep you from tampering with it. So what most companies do is the build in a program that allows you to make a series of "restore" discs (because unless you spend a pretty penny on you machine, they won't give you a CD with an actual copy of the operating system) so go through your documentation or the manufacturer's web site to find out if that option is available to you. As far as I know Hewlett Packard used this method of making restore discs, at the time I had to make 9 CDs, but the were mostly filled with default new computer "Junkware" and personal user settings gathered from the install and initial customization process.