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options to restore on Dell after HD crash

when the disk crashed beyond repair, i wanted to restore the OS on the Inspiron 660 as before. so I called dell and they sent me a USB drive with the following id on the side of the usb:
pa5093l-md8u
when i googled it i got the below..
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Genuine-Microsoft-Windows-7-Pro-For-Dell-8GB-USB-Recovery-Key-/231220457292
it looks the same as that but just that it is windows 8.

it also has a 'tracking id'...

when i tried to register the OS, MS complained an error. I called MS and they said they need the 25 digit product key. i said i only have the service tag, and called Dell. Now they mentioned that the USB is not the full OS but just some utilities.

I may be wrong, but did the OS recovery DVD used to come with XP and then later with Windows 7, you had a pay for it ($10  or $20 or something like that) to have an additional DVD added to the PC purchase. Now they seem to just tell me to go and get a new OS key which maybe around 100$?

what are my options? is this normal for Dell.. Is this a new change only for the newest PCs (perhaps from windows 8).

If I have to purchase a full version of Win8 and no other privileges from Dell to cover us a little for purchasing from them. Then would I be better to just get straight from MS and avoid all the Dell-stuff which can clutter? i would appreciate your thoughts.
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25112

8/22/2022 - Mon
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Tom

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25112

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win8; i only see express service code, service tag
i am afraid i don't see any COA (is that the 25 digit product key?)

i called them for product key and they said i need to purchase again.. that is why i thought i will ask the experts of what is what and then talk to them again.
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i can see Win8 open up after using:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Genuine-Microsoft-Windows-7-Pro-For-Dell-8GB-USB-Recovery-Key-/231220457292 (this kind of USB but win8 that was supplied me from dell for $40).. but it seems like it won't do critical things.. like register.. it won't even adjust the clock time.. but i am able to go online on the pc now.

the below is the exact screens/steps this usb drive took me on the brand new HDD:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP4qt8njl5E
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660 Desktop PC (with a tower)
Your help has saved me hundreds of hours of internet surfing.
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Tom

When you say "when the disk crashed beyond repair, i wanted to restore the OS on the Inspiron 660 as before"

Do this mean you cant read from the disk at all after mounting the disk in an HDD External Enclosure?

Like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=0VN-0003-00006
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update: MS was understanding and cleared it.. it is full registered now. thanks to all.

now is there a way to check if this is the full windows 8 or just the partial as Dell suggested?
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>>Do this mean you cant read from the disk at all after mounting the disk in an HDD External Enclosure?
correct. yes. that is why new HDD and new install.
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>>Windows 8.x now has a tool for that (create recovery media) built-in
what is its name?
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thank you- I chose 'create a recovery drive', but the checkmark to select "copy the recovery partition from the pc to the recovery drive" is disabled.

it is asking for min 512MB for the USB drive.. that seems too low? can I choose DVD over USB? where/how?

thanks.
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OK.

Can you suggest a tool to perform these :
clone your Dell stick
do a real backup of your system now and store that away.
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will use that, then, Rindi- thank you.

now just to confirm:

>>You probably have those same functions on the recovery USB stick Dell sent you, so there is no real reason to make one now. Maybe it is better to clone your Dell stick
>>

in my specific situation, the Dell stick purchased has more content (whole OS) & better compared to the recovery drive i can possibly make right now... but in general, that is not the case? or will the recovery drive always be limited? Dell calls the USB sent as 'recovery key', too.. but it means more than what the recovery drive could be, right? i just wanted to confirm that point.
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thanks a lot Rindi, and experts!