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Issue with Windows 8.1 on Dell Inspiron 3521 (no administrator account)

Posted on 2016-11-08
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Last Modified: 2016-12-11
Hey there,

I'm currently troubleshooting an issue with a clients Dell Inspiron 3521, where there is no administrator account. Upon turning on the computer it attempts to boot then brings you to the repair menu. Seems simple, but they do not have an administrator account or a backup to restore to.

If you try and do any of the repair options, you are prompted that an administrator account is needed. Is there a workaround?

My thoughts at this point, as time is not on my side, were to wipe the drive and reinstall everything from scratch. Only issue with that is the client does not have any of the disks that came with the computer. Also trying not to send Dell more money for a factory reset.

Notes: I have pulled out the HD and can access all the files. From this I was able to gather all the docs and pictures the client wanted, but could I also change any files or extract any files that could give me admin rights and/or make the reinstall painless, without having to track down all the right drivers etc.?

..Also I attempted to wipe the drive before and my systor drive duplicator/eraser could not pick up the drive.. not sure if it's relevant.

Any help is greatly appreciated and you'll have to excuse my ignorance if I am missing any obvious clues.

Thank you!
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Question by:Charlie Reynolds
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Dr. Klahn earned 250 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41879795
If none of the other experts can get you in with admin privileges ...

The reason the client has no disks is because Dell stopped shipping restore CDs/DVDs after XP.  (I estimate this saves them approximately 10 cents per system.)

They used to offer a set of media free on request to the original purchaser, but it appears that this also went away.

You can download an ISO image of the install DVD at the Dell web site, so long as you know the Service Tag of the system.  Then you can burn a reinstall DVD from the ISO.
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by:Experienced Member
Experienced Member earned 250 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41879811
The post above will get the 8.1 media. At this point, since you need to start fresh anyway, upgrade to Windows 10. Best move in the long run
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by:Experienced Member
ID: 41902974
Good solutions offerred
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Author Comment

by:Charlie Reynolds
ID: 41921817
Thanks for the help guys. I did just that. I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled Windows 10 from scratch. I am still curious if there is a work around for the needed admin privileges but then again, that would also pose a security risk.

In the end, the client got a working a computer and all their recovered files. I'll consider that a win. Thanks again!
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