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Reinstall XP without disc
Thread poster: Paula James
Paula James  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:06
French to English
+ ...
Sep 23, 2008

I have a Dell lapop Inspiron 640m, which has been slowing down for several months. Apparently now it also has an empty devoice manager, so I can't install new hardware (wanted a new mobile Internet dongle). Basically, I think it's time to start from scratch.
I have read that with ctrl + f11 I can restore factory settings (I have an external hard drive with my data copies) but am worried it won't work - is this likely - what do I do if it happens? I wasn't sent a CD with my laptop, I know XP is on the recovery partition, and I have a copy on my external hard drive, but am not sure what to do if f11 + ctrl doesn't work (according to google this is possible). I'm out of my guarantee period with Dell so they won't advise me.
Although my computer still works, it's slow and I'm moving next week and worried I won't be able to connect to the internet then.
I really wanted to ask if anyone has experience with the Dell recovery system, and what can I do if this fails. I thought of just buying a new computer, but it seems vry wasteful as this one is probably ok if everything is removed.

Thanks!


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
can you burn a backup image? Sep 23, 2008

I've got an Acer laptop with Vista on a recovery partition. At least with my computer, there's a way to burn a backup image to CD (a series of CDs, actually) before you take the big plunge. This enables you to restore the system to its current, likely unstable and malfunctioning (otherwise you wouldn't be reinstalling the OS!) but at least "alive," status, in case things go horribly wrong with the reinstall.

I've no clue how you would go about doing so with your hardware/OS configuration, but that's the direction I'd be looking into.


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 01:06
Partial member
Spanish
+ ...
You should be able to burn a recovery CD Sep 23, 2008

Kathryn is right. If you haven't burnt a recovery CD or DVD yet, you should be able to do it. It will reset your computer to its factory settings. I'm not familiar with Dell computers so I don't know how you can burn it, but I'm sure there there are some Dell-specific forums out there where you can find more information. Try this one: techguy.org

Good luck,

Claudia


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My experience with recovery stuff Sep 23, 2008

Paula James wrote:
I wasn't sent a CD with my laptop, I know XP is on the recovery partition, and I have a copy on my external hard drive, but am not sure what to do if f11 + ctrl doesn't work (according to google this is possible).


I recently redid my laptop (which also came without a CD, but with instructions on burning two rescue DVDs which apparently then would have everything on it). When push came to shove, the DVDs turned out to be unbootable, and it turned out that the DVDs assumed that my rescue partition on the hard drive would still be intact and functioning (which, of course, it wasn't).

So I had a variety of other OSes on my laptop for a while (including Hardy Heron and Win2kP), but last night I installed XP from a desktop PC's CD again, and downloaded all the hardware drivers from the laptop vendor's web site (HP Compaq, about 400 MB of drivers). It seems to work, but I haven't tested to see if both processor cores function and if the battery life is back to what it should be.

It was quite hard, also. The XP CD doesn't have a partitioner on it, and if another version of Windows is found on the hard drive, you can't simply remove it using the tools on the XP CD. I had to dummy install Xubuntu Linux just so that I could wipe the hard disk, and then install XP over it. I never had this much trouble reinstalling an OS on a desktop PC, so I suspect laptops are suspect

So, to answer your question, do not rely on rescue CDs and recovery partitions. If you're going to do a clean wipe, prepare yourself for a long trip (unless the geek from next door sits in with his stack of hacker tools). Borrow an XP CD from someone, just in case (which IMO is quite legel because you have your own licence number, stamped underneath the laptop).


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Drivers and stuff Sep 23, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
So, to answer your question, do not rely on rescue CDs and recovery partitions. If you're going to do a clean wipe, prepare yourself for a long trip (unless the geek from next door sits in with his stack of hacker tools).


In fact, before you do it, go to your vendor's web site and see if you can find download links for your laptop's drivers and utilities. Start one or two downloads and then check if those installer files happen to be present anywhere on your laptop as well. If so, back it all up on a CD, to save you some downloads when you do the reinstall.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:06
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Take it to a specialist Sep 23, 2008

I wouldn't bother to do it myself but would phone the nearest vendor with a repair facility. They have all the stuff that may be needed.
Regards
Heinrich


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 22:06
English to Russian
+ ...
Not with Dell, but I have a recent experience Sep 23, 2008

I have a Compaq Presario with XP Home Edition. Well, a while ago it started to freak out in numerous ways (too numerous to list them all here), so I decided to do a clean sweep, thanks to the partition on the hard drive.

I followed the manufacturer's instructions to the letter - and, wow! it worked! It was not difficult at all (and no, I'm not a geek). To restore everything (QuickBooks, my Excell and Word files, my photos, etc.) was somewhat time consuming, but not difficult, either.

So, read the manufacturer's instructions, and then decide for yourself whether you want to do it yourself or take it to the specialist.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Partial member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Dell Sep 23, 2008

I have myself three Dell Computers (bought just the third one, a laptop which came with Vista Ultimate WITH the Windows CD), and I remember that for the second one, which didn't have any CD with the operating system, I burnt one myself nearly immediately, just in case. I found the instructions in the manual. If you don't find them, just call Dell. They will advice you at any time, even once your PC is out of guarantee.
But Samuel is also right, IMO, you can use every XP CD, since you own the licence, and just type in your own licence number.
Make sure you have all the drivers which you can download form Dell's support site. Provide your service tag number and it will show you all the drivers you need which of course you must have ready BEFORE you start the installation.

Good luck!


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:06
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
If you got it preinstalled, you should have a partition on your HDD with OS to reinstall Sep 23, 2008

Look in the users guide - there should be an information about it.
If not, look at www.dell.com - you'll find all information there.
Usually you have to press F10 (or similar, sometimes F1 or F2) when switching the laptop on. This starts the installation utility.
Only in case you did repartition you HDD this is lost. Otherwise you will not lose this partition even when reinstalling the system.


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RieM  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
English to Japanese
+ ...
ctrl+F11 option Sep 23, 2008

Hi,

This option is only available for a dell system shipped after July or August 2004. If your PC is older thant that, it doesn't do anything.

CTFL+F11 has some prerequisites - Dell creates a hidden partition for storing programs and scripts, and an factry-made image to restore - this is what "PC Restore" does. There is a good thread:

http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/fixes.htm

It's a bit technical, but you may not have to worry about "dsfix" part at all.

Basically, PC restore is almost the same as a clean install, just like when it was shipped to you. You have to apply servicepacks and other recent changes on your own.


I was on the chat with a Dell tech support about somethine else, and he almost made me do this. Because I repartition and install multiple OSes, I thanked him and finished our chat. So, - I haven't done PC restore, but I know how Dell configures a hard drive.

Also, there are some folders you might want to save -- in your C: drive should have theee folders:

DELL
Drivers
i386

The DELL folder contains dell utilities and is not so important, but i386 and drivers are very handy to have. In case Ctrl+F11 doesn't work and you have to get a CD to install from scratch, you can use the drivers from this folder. There are many references about "i386" folder:

http://ask-leo.com/i_dont_have_an_installation_cd_for_windows_xp_what_if_i_need_one.html

Last but not least, you may want to call Dell if you can have a media (CD) copy from them, if you don't have one. You probably have to pay, but since you have a license I think you should be able to get a copy.

Good luck
Rie


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Paula James  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:06
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Sep 23, 2008

Thank you all very much for taking the time to reply. I had done some research on this, and found what you told me, but everything seemed to be either very complicated or suggesting it will be very easy.
My computer is from after 2004, it's 2 years old, so it should have the restore partition, and as I have never repartitioned anything (no idea how to!) it should work. I have a copy of all the necessary folders on my external hard drive, but I have no instructions on burning a bootable CD, so not sure how to use them. Dell have told me they can't give me technical support or a copy of the CD, as the warranty has expired, but I can borrow a disc from someone else if necessary.
I think I will try f11 + ctrl, and if it doesn't work, try using a CD. I definitely need to do something, as it's slow and various things aren't working.


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 22:06
English to Russian
+ ...
Well, good luck, Paula! Sep 23, 2008

Whatever you choose to do - I hope it will work as painlessly as possible....

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