Dell Win8.1 Recovery Disk Validation Test

I have a new Dell laptop running Win8.1 and they have added their own branded backup/recovery tools.

They have a process to create Recovery Disks, but I had an issue so searched the web for fixes and found TWO huge major issues everyone seems to have with Dell Recovery Disks:

1.  The Create Disk process doesn't work.  Mine used 2 DVDs, said it completed, but I have serious doubts.

2.  When actually needed, the recovery disks don't recover.  You are hosed at the worst possible time to be hosed.

Is there a way to test the validity of recovery disks you built to be viable and complete now when system is secure and safe, instread of relying on them, using them, having them fail, and no longer being able to create recovery disks.

I have not applied the Win8.1 Pro Pak, but will.

I have looked a little, but doesn't he OS itself have usable tools for this?
dsmrtnAsked:
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nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
>>  Is there a way to test the validity of recovery disks you built to be viable   << put in another disk of the same size, and run the recovery DVD's

i mean, even if a test "validates" the dvd's - are you sure it will work?
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
The only test I'm aware of is to have the recovery software read the disks and actually apply files back to restore system to a viable, minimal, earlier state - provided disks were built correctly.  This is possibly too late if the disks are bad or incomplete.

I'll contact he vendor see if they can provide a net set of directories/files and sizes maybe I can compare to my disks.
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nobusCommented:
that's what i said, but on ANOTHER disk drive, so you don't loose anything
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
That just proves the created recover disks create same disks - doesn't prove either set works.  I can put the DVDs in another machine and browse the contents.  But I don't know if I have 3000 files in 10 folders or are supposed to have 3005 files in 11 folders.

Where is my personal "crash and burn" pc when I need it.
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nobusCommented:
i don't understand you; if it creates the same HDD, it does work imo, since that's what it's supposed to do.
what else do you expect from it?

>>  Where is my personal "crash and burn" pc when I need it.   <<  what do you mean??
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
I trusted MS tools.  I thought I trusted the DELL tools, I mean who would release buggy recovery software.  If you believe the blogs - DELL - and they just don't give a sht either.  Whole lot of angry DELL owners out there, so I'm hear looking for insurance I guess.

Seems DELL is creating bad recovery disks and/or their recovery software sucks - which is worse because you may have one or more years of use, files, patches added software on your box.  I'll test that.  I can run a standard backup and test restoring files from it.

It is these recovery disks I'm worried about.  Maybe DELL will help by supplying file/folder details.
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
I doubt given your comment that a confirmation that the files on your DVD set match the list from Dell is going to put your mind at rest.  As nobus has said the only way you will be able to prove to yourself that the disk set works is to restore the operating system from it.  Either by resetting your machine or by swapping in a hard drive and restoring to that.  By design you can't use the disk set to restore a working copy to a machine with a different hardware configuration.
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nobusCommented:
but if you want, you can always image your disk with the free- and excellent paragon soft :
      http://www.paragon-software.com/free/                  PARAGON Free image soft
      http://www.paragon-software.com/home/rk-express/            PARAGON Rescue Kit

then you're better of than with the recovery, since the image includes updates, and installed soft !
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smckeown777Commented:
Bit confused as well by what you are expecting...

The Dell recovery disks are not backups...they are disks that allow you to go back to Factory Default mode should you run into an issue where you want to restore the laptop/pc back to when you first bought it...

I've used them fine multiple times...they work, but like others mentioned the simplest way to test is with blank HD and do a test restore...
You don't use these disks to 'restore files'...they are image based disks and you restore the 'complete image' when needed...so don't expect them to function like regular backup based software...doesn't work like that unfortunately
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
I understand about recovery disks vs backups.

I do not have a blank HD, I do not want to violate the terms of the warrantee.

I'm just asking if there is a way to test disks before actually needing them.  My concern being raised because this is the first time I've not used the native OS to perform these tasks, and because searches revealed DELL potentially has a huge exposure here.  I would never have expected that.  Recovery and backup software have to be bullet proof, anything less causes reputational damage to DELL, but would, if I'm impacted, but an entire skid on my day.

So far, it seems NO unless I violate my warrantee, or DELL steps up and can provide me some assurances.

When I develop software that acts on files, I usually provide a test switch which runs and display the files and actions that would have occurred if run without the test switch.  It validates the test against expected results.
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smckeown777Commented:
You will not void any warranty...not sure why you think you will

Restoring to another blank HD is not voiding warranty just to be clear

I understand what you mean now...have no clue how to do that to be honest...then again does imaging with Paragon have a 'test restore' or 'verify' option? Suppose its all based on the package itself

But all I can tell you is i've run these restores many times without issues...we are a Dell shop and work with their hardware all the time...
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
There's no warranty issue, either if you replace a HDD or if you restore from the DVD set over the current system.
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
If a company, like Paragon has specific products that do what I need, I would expect them to be near flawless, and to step up if issues are found with their product, to make their product better and to stay in business.

I think DELL may think they are too big to be bothered and this issue might be too expensive to fix, so just ignore it.  That seems to be the general theme of angry bloggers.  A few have gotten satisfaction.

I apologize, my mind is still stuck in desktop land.  I use a KVM setup so all servers and workstations out of sight out of mind. My desktops/servers often have paper tape on case that if broken, voids warranty.  I know the battery on the bottom is accessible.  I didn't know, and can't tell yet if the HD is accessible.  I'll check that.
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smckeown777Commented:
Can I ask where you are reading these 'bad reports'? If you look on Google for 'problems with <insert laptop model here>' you are guarenteed to find some poor soul that had issues...I can't say i've had these same issues with the disks myself...

Dell allow you to open their models...in fact if you call their tech support for an issue they'll talk you through opening the case etc and ask you to check things...so from that perspective they are different than other manufacturers with warranty...so you are all clear to open it up and have a look

Which laptop model is it? Some of them are in a module(2 screws on bottom marked with HD symbol) that is easily slid out once you remove the screws...others require the entire back cover to come off so again depends on the model...
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nobusCommented:
you are free to expect what you want; but i want you to remember that there is no such thing as a 100% good software  - all have flaws (see MS updates, talking about a BIG Cy)

and if Dell does not fix it, it can be caused by other problems (say hardware), but i would not expect them to let such a problem hanging around
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
I cannot find the links I used earlier.  I tend to clear out cache, history and stuff like that.  I don't recall the exact search I did so I'm not seeing a links.  

Inspiron M731R on the outside.  Dell software shows it as 5735 when showing system information.  Wife bought it for me.

I was told that if you open up the case you void the warrantee if not explicitly okayed by Dell tech support.  No idea if true or not.  Laptop came with lifetime tech support bundled (lifetime being the release of the OS 2 versions out I think).

I've been coding since late 70's.  I know a little something about bugs, production quality code and what's not yet ready for prime time.  Recovery software - come on - this isn't just rounding error or output formatting errors.  This software needs to be robust.  Having a few flaws doesn't by itself mean the software isn't 100% good.  Depends on where the bug is.  The blogs I can't find a second time were pretty specific about the issues both in creating disks, and other folks not being able to restore later when needed.

Okay, I have a 1TB drive with several DELL provided partitions.  Can I just open my parts drawer and whip out one of my spare 1TB drives that the same drive I have in my laptop, or do the partitions have to match too?

I will price a new drive.  Might be nice to have that on hand.  This seems the most viable solution if it is not cost prohibitive.
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nobusCommented:
you can even put the drive in an USB case (best USB 3.0 for speed) to use it afterwards as backup, or for testing
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Dell classify all Inspiron HDDs as "CSR" (Customer Service Replaceable) - that is there is an expectation that if a technician suspects a drive needs replacement they will send the part out to the customer and expect them to fit it.

You've probably already discovered that the drive on you model is accessed from under the base by removing the panel marked with the HDD symbol and sliding the HDD module off the connector.

The drive already contains a recovery partition.  That's restored using a standard WIM file.  The disk set you've created is to image a new hard drive in the event of HDD failure.

It might be worth checking that lifetime support - the maximum Dell usually offer is 3y renewable if purchased from new.
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
The lifetime support is just another product.  Lifetime "as defined by Dell".  You just pay more up front I suppose.  I've used it once, very nice once you reach a technician..
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dsmrtnAuthor Commented:
not quite what I was looking for, but this is a better solution and I needed an external drive for backup anyway.
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nobusCommented:
tx for feedback
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