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Windows 8 reinstallation using files from recovery partition (damaged disk)

Posted on 2014-01-04
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Hi,
I have a Dell Inspiron 3521 with Windows 8. It has no COA label/activation code on the underside (presumably it's license is tied to the BIOS).  The disk is damaged, unbootable and no recover disks were ever made.  However, I was able to get the full contents of the 4th and 6th partitions which seem to house the recovery setup.  I've also gotten most of the data from the windows partition.

Partition 6 has two small .wim files and 4 .swm files which are 3-4Gb in size.  I've attached a screen dump to show the partition's files and directories.

Some points to note:
I can't get a recovery DVD from Dell or any other source
I don't have any other Windows 8 media to work with

My question is, is there any way I can restore this PC to a new disk using what I've saved from the recovery partitions?  I've attached screenshots showing the files/folders of partitions 4 and 6 with the WIM and SWM files highlighted.

Thanks in advance!
partition-4.gif
partition-6.gif
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Question by:mark_D74
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Expert Comment

by:Korbus
ID: 39756313
Hi Mark,

I have not run into this situation before, but when I looked up .WIM files (windows image), I found MS does indeed have software to "deploy" these files:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj979425(v=winembedded.81).aspx

this part in particular seemed like it would be useul to your situation:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj979690(v=winembedded.81).aspx

Looks like you need to know which of those two WIM files you have are neede to deploy.

It also appears that those SWM files in the dll folder can be opened with 7zip
http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Notebook-Recovery/How-do-I-restore-backup1-swm-files-created-during-system/td-p/1414171

Sounds like a pretty hairy situation with no recovery disks,  Good luck.  (By the way, wont dell let you download the recovery disks?)
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Miftaul earned 500 total points
ID: 39756321
Oem version of widows are preactivated. You could reinstall that as long as the partitions are intact. Only option left is to get the OEM dvd, you might have to buy that.

Here is what Dell says - link
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Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 39756348
If the Inspiron is still under warranty and you're in the US you can order re-installation media by using your Service Tag here:
https://www.dell.com/support/diagnostics/us/en/19/nondiagnostichome?c=us&l=en&s=dhs

Your CoA sticker should be in the battery compartment or it will be a BIOS embedded product key.  Either way you need a Win8 boot environment to launch the recovery from which without a bootable environment or an OS DVD you simply don't have.

Why aren't Dell helping?
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Author Closing Comment

by:mark_D74
ID: 39769260
This wasn't the solution I asked about, but in the end, was the one that worked. I obtained an ISO of the correct Dell reinstallation DVD and it worked perfectly.
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