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Restore modern dell to factory settings.

Posted on 2004-08-12
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Last Modified: 2011-08-18
I have a customer whos XP system wont boot. I tried recovery console and ran chkdisk which terminated at 25% with the message "one or more unrecoverable errors on volume". So the XP partition is toast. I booted from knoppix and discovered there is a hidden partition with several programs and what appears to be a disk image. I assume this is to allow the system to be reset to factory settings. Ive searched on how to access  this facility and have come up with a couple of different things, one being a program called zztop and the other booting from the dell diagnostics cd.
I dont know the model but its a 2 year old desktop system. Any ideas?
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Question by:owensleftfoot
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14 Comments
 
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by:tmireles
ID: 11788235
Are you trying to re-install XP or just recover the original installation.  

Did you try and run chkdisk /f  

The /f will force the fix of the errors.

Dell's sometimes have a hidden partition in the drive for diagnostic reasons.

Let me know exactly what you are trying to accomplish.
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by:owensleftfoot
ID: 11788334
Im trying to restore the system to the way it was whenever it was bought. I know this is possible. chkdisk /f wont work. The clue is in the "one or more unrecoverable errors on volume" :) In other words chkdisk cant fix it.
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by:SheharyaarSaahil
ID: 11788409
Hello owensleftfoot =)

Where are the Restore Disks :)

and if u didn't get them then as u said u are having a hidden partition from where u can run the setup to restore the system to the factory settings..... usually when u boot the system,,, u have to hit a key to get a special menu where u can choose to boot into Recovery Console..... when u do this,,,,, are u not getting the choice of booting to that hidden partition for running the setup ??

U dont know the model number,,,, otherwise i can provide the link from Dell support site on How to Restore Factory Settings =|
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LVL 4

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by:tmireles
ID: 11788410
If you are not worried about data on the drive then boot into the Windows XP CD and re-install everything.  When you come to the part that shows the partitions on the drive you can delete these and then make a new partition to re-install on.

However it sounds like there might be something wrong with the drive.  Usually Dell ships out the drivers CD and it is a bootable CD that has some diagnostic utilites with it.  I would run something on the drive to check it.  You can also go to the drive manufactures website and find a utility to check the disk.  They all have something to check them to make sure there isn't anything wrong with the drive.

If the machine is still under warranty you might want to give Dell a call to (humor them) walk you through the steps to check the drive so they can ship you a new one.

Let me know if this helps or if you want a different approach as you can also do a repair install.  If you want info on that let me know and I can post some instructions for that.  However since there seems to be problems with the volume I would recommend a reformat of the drive.

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by:owensleftfoot
ID: 11788791
"Where are the Restore Disks :)"

Dells dont ship with restore disks because they have a hidden partition which has everything needed to restore the system.

" If you are not worried about data on the drive then boot into the Windows XP CD and re-install everything."

See above. There isnt any XP cdrom for the same reason. Anyway, the disk image on the hidden partition will include all the relevant drivers for winmodems, soundcards etc. If I did do a re-install with an XP cdrom, chances are I would have to download drivers.




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by:tmireles
ID: 11788831
You are correct you would have to download the drivers.  If you have the model number or service tag number you would be able to go to support.dell.com and enter that in and it should get you what you need.

Also as SheharyaarSaahil stated if you tell us what the model number is then we might be able to point you in the direction to get to that hidden partition to get to the image.

I have found on some that when the computer boots it tell you different options for booting so you might want to go into the bios and disable the Dell splash screen to get the full boot up and see if there are options like press esc or F10 for boot options.

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by:SheharyaarSaahil
ID: 11788849
>> Dells dont ship with restore disks because they have a hidden partition which has everything needed to restore the system

that's why i wrote something more after my first question "Where are the Restore Disks :)"

:)
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by:bradje
ID: 11790293
You can try this:
You can also use a Windows 98 boot disk.....What your are trying to do is get to a "Dos" prompt.

Once you have made it to the C:\ dos prompt.
Type in the following line:
zz -zzload -sure

Let us know if it blows up! :)

JB
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by:Brave_Sir_Robin
ID: 11790771
Try this site, it's pretty good and should hopefully be able to guide you through the process fairly painlessly. I understand not knowing the model may make it a little harder to use the site but at least the site has drop down lists of what you can select so hopefully the drop down lists might jog your memory or coincide with something written on the bottom or in the boot sequency.

http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/software_reinstall/en/index?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=mn

Hope this helps.
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by:Sootah
ID: 11798708
Generally speaking, to get to the recovery partition you hit a key on bootup; usually while the BIOS is still doing it's thing. F10 is the standard key on HP's, I'm not sure what it is on Dell's systems.

Hmm... It may be F12. I just happen to have a Dell Inspiron 8500 right here that I am working on for a client and it lists F12 as the boot option key to press while it is POSTing. Give this a shot, as it may have the option to load the recovery partition in it. If not, you may be able to use a boot manager to force it to boot from the location you want.

The very BEST way to reinstall is to slipstream SP2 into an XP CD and reinstall their system with that. This will, of course, not install the crap that is shipped with their system. Much much cleaner. In theory Dell should have at least shipped a CD labeled "Drivers, Utilities, and Applications" This should have the software they want on there. (Usually WordPerfect and whatnot)
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by:gonyeama
ID: 12958481
Hope you didn't kill the partition yet.  On newer Demension and Inspiron systems, Dell loads a Norton Ghost partition.  When viewing the bios bootup, hit CTRL+F11.  If you restore that, it will be like you just pulled the machine out of the box from Dell.  This information was given to me from Dell Technical Support.
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