Dell Laptop Recovery


floppybootstomp

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Mate of mine's given me his son's Dell Inspiron 1720 to fix, there's nothing mechanically wrong but the kid's managed to hose his Vista installation, probably through virus/malware.

Now I know bugger all about Dells and laptops so I could do with a little advice here.

I have the recovery disk so I booted from that and selected the repair option but it didn't work.

So I booted with a Linux Mint CD and extracted 10Gb worth of I-Tunes music to one of my external hard disks, paving the way for a clean install of Vista.

Which is where I'm at right now.

I have booted from the recovery disk and selected a fresh Vista install. I'm presented with three options of where to install Vista.

It's a 120Gb disk divided into three partitions:

Partition 2: 10Gb: Recovery
Partition 3: 99.1Gb OS
Partition 4: 2.5Gb Mediadirect

Obviously I install Vista to partition 3 but I'm wondering what the other two partitions are for?

Can the recovery Partition be used to recover Vista with all previous settings, files and folders intact?

If not what's the point of having it? In such a small HDD 10Gb is a lot of space.

I was wondering whether it's worth booting from a Parted Magic CD and merging all the partitions into one. Or maybe merge into one then split HDD into 2 partitions for OS and I-Tunes music storage.

Or is the way Dell have set this thing up vital or beneficial?

My daughter was recently given an old Toshiba laptop with a similar setup and I wiped that HDD, made one partition and installed XP then activated XP ok with the serial number on the laptop case.

I've looked on the Dell website but it seems woefully lacking in information about the partition setup and what it's for.

Any advice/explanation from knowledgeable folk apreciated :)
 
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Ive actually just done a recovery on a compaq mate.

partition 3 is used for storing all the files needed for a factory installation of the O/S
I cant remember the exact commands i used it was all pretty straight forward though. It was Vista home premium if that makes a difference? It took ages I know that!

This is what I used last night. Booted into recovery via F8 and told it to do a full factory install again

Worked straight away without issues
 
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floppybootstomp

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Thanks for the help txd, I pressed F8 and was presented with a menu, but not the full factory install option.

I chose 'last good configuration' and it progressed to enter password.

But I couldn't enter the password, it seemed to have frozen.

Now when I use F8 and get to the choice menu, it just reboots, no matter which option I choose.

So it looks like a fresh install.

What I'd really like to know though is what those two other partitions are for.
 
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The Mediadirect one mate I aint got a clue about tbh

As I said on the compaq the 10gig held all factory install recovery info

as to why you have 3 separate partitions no idea apart from the obvous ive just mentioned
 

floppybootstomp

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Ok, thanks.

I think this is confirmation why I'm really not fond of either Dell or laptops in general.

Yuk.
 
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Hi Flopp's....the partition that holds 10Gb i reckon is for the "Vista" recovery service. That's the space needed for holding the ghost images that vista writes for itself (restore points). I think 10Gb is the default size but this can be changed or turned off completely.If you remember back when i had all the issues with Vista i learned that the system itself controls that partition and even though it's set to 10Gb it can move the partiton if it's growing. Sounds crazy i know but if you can recall people complaing about the HDD space disappearing it might make sense.
I also reckon the mediadirect partition is just for the young lads downloads.although i'm probably wrong, lol.

Anyway good luck with it.
 
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floppybootstomp

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wizkid said:
Hi Flops,

Not sure if this link below might help you?

http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/mediadirect.htm

Thanks :)

It helps inasmuch as I know what it's all about now.

Not sure if I understand it all though, lol

But really - what a crock of crap :D

Why do they make all purchasers of their computers reliant on how Dell want things to be?

That truly sucks.

I think I may well go for repartition/fresh install here.
 

floppybootstomp

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Yesterday I made the hard disk into one partition using PartedMagic and formatted to NTFS.

Installed Vista Home Premium from non-Dell disk successfully, downloaded drivers from Dell site and installed video driver first of all.

On reboot the machine is going into an endless reboot loop again, the original fault.

Prior to each reboot a BSOD flashes briefly.

I'm beginning to suspect a hardware fault or some peculiar quirk of Dell systems I'm not familiar with.

Going to run Memtest and some hard disk analysis.

Frustrating.

Now I know why I really don't like laptops or Dell.

And have just run Memtest for an hour, no errors shown.

Have taken HDD out it's a Toshiba SATA 120Gb and am going to do some software tests on it.

Also, this morning it booted straight into Vista so I installed the chipset driver but on reboot it went into the endless reboot loop again.
 

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Flops,

The 10 GB Recovery partition is the factory install partition and should be part of the system when you use the Dell recovery disk. If you install the the complete software from the recovery disk it would create that partition and store the necessary software there. However the software will only work once you activate it from within Vista on booting. Once activated it will always give you a choice to do a complete factory install with all software and drivers.

I am never thrilled with the idea of working with dell when it comes to recovery, most of the time it does not work. Something that you cannot test when you buy the system unfortunately. You only find out once you have your system all buggered up.

The best recovery system was built by IBM and it always worked wonderfully. I have had plenty of experience of rebuilding IBMs, Dells, and HP's and only IBM worked flawlessly. That is why I always rely on IBM laptops and recommend it to folks. Unfortunately, IBM sold it to Lenovo and things have changed somewhat but still they are the best in this.

The reason recovery partition is so small is because it is a compressed image of the factory install and once initiated it was take about 2-3 hours for it to rebuild the entire system. If you had to do all yourself it would take a lot longer than 3 hours I can assure you with OS and all the system drivers and programs to be installed manually.

I would urge you to use the recovery disks and follow the instructions as it will solve your problem I hope and will also give you an indication of hardware failure if things do not go in the right direction.

I hope it helps.
 

floppybootstomp

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Thanks Quad, that's helpful.

In fact that was to be my next step, installation from the recovery disk but I wasn't sure whether it held a full version of Vista.

As I've mentioned above the disk is now one partition so any mirror image no longer exists.

I did notice when I managed to get into Vista that it was prompting me to load Dell drivers and I didn't get as far as getting the machine's Wi-Fi to work so couldn't connect to my wireless router.

So I was rather hoping an install from the recovery disk would automatically install all Dell drivers.

It was pointless me taking out the HDD as it won't fit into my SATA dock so I put it back.

I booted from the Ultimate Boot Disk V4.0 and have run Emsa Disk Check which showed no errors.

Am currently running Western Digitals' extended disc diagnosis program, has been running 54 minutes and has 39 minutes left to run, although the time left to run keeps increasing, which is perhaps a little odd.

I noticed within this program there is a 100Mb FAT partition as well, I hadn't noticed that before and I'm wondering whether that is something to do with Dell that is perhaps causing the problem.

If the HDD checks out ok then the problem can only be with the motherboard or software. As the motherboard is happily running Linux Mint Live; PartedMagic; memtest and The Ultimate Boot CD I would imagine it's software related or more specifically, Dell related.

I will wait until WD has done it's stuff, write a string of zeros to the HDD then boot and install from the Dell recovery disk.

And we shall see what we shall see.

 

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Quadophile

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Flops,

Let me explain what the recovery disk are all about.

When you buy the computer it already has the recovery partition installed from factory like you had the 10 GB one, The main partition is where the OS resides. During the course of use if the main partition is corrupted you use the recovery partition to bring it back to factory state like new. The recovery disks are not needed if the recovery partition is still intact.

When HD fails and is no longer usable that is when the disks come into play, you install a brand new but same spec HD and use the recovery disks to create the brand new installation. The new installation will create the same recovery partition and the OS partition on the new disk.

The recovery partition basically has a very compressed set of files which when initiated uncompresses all the folders and installs the OS just as if it were new from the factory. That is the reason the recovery partition is so small and one wonders how the entire OS resides on it.

Once you use the recovery disk and the hard disk does not fail you need not use the disks again as the recovery partition will remain intact for subsequent installation if you do get the OS corrupted or loose the files.

I have a feeling that the hardware is OK since you can run the Linux live CD, if there was a problem it would not run. So rest assured things will fall into place when you just follow the instructions on the Recovery disk.

By the way, you may need to activate the recovery partition once all is installed from the OS, so the first thing that you do is check out the recovery procedure and enable it in the OS so that it can be used for quickly reverting to factory state.

I hope this helps.

Good Luck!
 

floppybootstomp

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Yes Quad, it does help - best explanation I've had :)

Almost finished wiping the hard disk, will then boot from recovery CD.
 

floppybootstomp

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The next person who asks me to fix a laptop I'm going to tell them politely to go away, this thing is giving me gbh of the brain, have never had these probs with desktop machines.

Ok, having got that moan out the way the good news is Vista is installed from the recovery CD and is booting fine and staying stable.

But I can't get online or open Network Discovery :confused:

I also note Vista is activated. Weird.

The hard disk still appears to be just one partition in 'My Computer'

I cannot activate the Network. This thing is meant to have wireless capability but I can't get it going.

I also had to install the Nvidia video driver, mobile chipset and 'laptop software' all of which I downloaded from Dell's site.

Dell do not make it easy to recognise exactly what files you need, there seem to be several options - without explanations - for different things.

Did I mention I hate Dell? :)

This experience is further confirmation why I really don't like them.

In control panel there is one part that seems to be crying out for drivers.

It's headed 'Other Devices' and has four sub headings - 3 x 'Base System Device' and 1 x 'Network Controller'

I'm guessing the Network controller is the reason I can't join a network and hence get online.

But I honestly don't know which driver to install to activate it.

I also wonder why all this stuff didn't happen automatically as Quad told me it would.

What a crock of crap eh?

Still, that's quite enough for one day, it's 22:43 hours, time for a little online CoD4 or maybe Spore or maybe a movie or maybe listen to some vinyl.

Anything but this poxy Dell machine, lol

On a positive note, this piece of crap boots far faster than my desktop ever did loaded with Vista.

Life is indeed a learning experience :)
 

Quadophile

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Dell, what the hell!

The recovery CD is suppose to install the system, period. Yes the recovery partition is supposed to be hidden form the OS so it should not show up and the HD capacity should also not report the capacity taken up by the recovery partition. The reason this is done is to protect the recovery partition to get infected.

Anyway, I am not sure how to guide you at this stage, If it was an IBM machine I could walk through everything since I have been using IBM laptops for the last 10 years or so and having owned only one Dell D600 for 1 year in between. Which in my opinion was piece of crap.

Sorry flops it did not go well for you.

Let's work on it later and try to get it going. You take some rest now.
 
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floppybootstomp

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Update:

Today I had this thing running with Vista activated, main drivers installed and connecting through wireless. Just three system base devices unrecognised, one of which I'm sure was the built in webcam.

Then I decided to apply Vista updates, all 77 of them.

After about 30 minutes I was given an error window telling me update 76 had failed to install and to reboot.

So I did.

And it went into the constant reboot loop again.

A BSOD flashed briefly telling me something like a hive entry in the registry had failed, though I can't be sure of that.

So I'm back at square one, currently erasing disk via Parted Magic.

Jeez, I really really really hate both Dell and laptops, I really do :mad:
 

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I am really sorry to hear that. :(

I have a feeling it is not just a single issue but multiple issues you are confronted with. Vista as you know is not the best OS out there and has been known to have bugs which were never addressed properly.
 

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How about putting Linux on this machine and see if all works OK? That will confirm the hardware has no issues, if you can do that before you start all over again it could really save you a lot of hassle, just an idea which I thought I should put forward.
 
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floppybootstomp

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Quadophile said:
I am really sorry to hear that. :(

I have a feeling it is not just a single issue but multiple issues you are confronted with. Vista as you know is not the best OS out there and has been known to have bugs which were never addressed properly.

I'm wondering myself whether there's a hardware fault here or not but my gut feeling tells me the machine itself is doing what it's supposed to do and what we have here is software faults.

Vista may not be the best OS out there (I wonder what is? OSX? Ubuntu? Who Knows?) but for me it has been the most stable and reliable of all the Microsoft OS's.

Yes, strange but true, I never had a prob with anything in Vista.

Nope, again I'll go with my gut instincts and lay the blame at Dell's door.

Hard disk now erased, tomorrow will try another install.

What really guts me is that I phoned the owner earlier and said all was ok, collect machine.

Now I have to start all over again but at least this time I know what drivers to install.

And responding to your other post, Linux Live runs fine in this thing.
 

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