Reformatting a Dell Dimension 4550

Discussion in 'Windows XP Help' started by Guest, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I am having a problem reformatting a Dell Dimension 4550. My friend got this
    PC about 2 years ago, and unfortunately, he is not computer literate at all.
    He had the entire McAfee Security suite on it, but did not have it activated
    and working. He thought that it was on there, so it was OK. Well, his PC
    completely froze up a few weeks ago, and he called me. I did a quick virus
    scan and ran Ewido on it. I got over 600 spyware, malware, key loggers, and
    hijackers and 59 viruses. WOW, no wonder it wouldn't work. I got all but 1
    pest out, and it had changed a bunch of registry values, and a quick INET
    search revealed that the 1 pest that was left was an active desktop hijacker
    that is used the steal credit card numbers. Needless to say, I need to
    ensure that there are no registry changes that will point right back to this
    pest.

    Another unfortunate event is that it is a Dell, and their restore disks are
    terrible. There is no boot disk at all or a system restore disk of any kind.
    I have all the driver disks, the OS disk, and an application disk. I really
    hate the way Dell treats their customers when it comes to their equipment,
    and this is no exception. My friend told me that Dell didn't even send the
    disks until about a year after they got the PC. They had called numerous
    times, and they kept wanting them to buy them. Personally, I don't think
    that Dell provided a restore disk.

    So, that is where I am stuck. I cannot reload the OS without a bootable
    restore disk because the OS disk won't boot. I really need to reformat this
    disk to ensure that I get everything out. Just re-installing Windows is not
    going to solve the problem.

    Can I use the boot disk creator exe file on Microsoft's site for XP home
    wSP1, or do I have to have one specific for the Dell?

    I am stuck, and I have been working on this thing for 2 days. If Dell would
    just use restore disk images like all the other vendors, these people could
    have fixed this themselves.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
     
    Guest, Feb 12, 2005
    #1
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  2. The Dell Reinstallation CD is bootable and contains all the tools necessary
    to partition and format your drive. Follow this procedure and allow
    Windows XP to partition and format your drive:

    NOTE: It would be best to physically disconnect all your peripheral hardware
    devices, except the monitor, mouse and keyboard, before installing XP.

    NOTE: If you have an internal Zip Drive installed, physically disconnect the
    EIDE and power cable to it before proceeding, otherwise your main
    hard drive may not be assigned the customary C: drive letter.
    After installing Windows XP, you may then reconnect it.

    1. Open your BIOS and set your "CD Drive as the first bootable device".

    ===> Accessing Motherboard BIOS
    ===> http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/bios_manufacturer.htm

    2. Insert your Windows XP CD in the CD Drive and reboot your computer.

    3. You'll see a message to boot to the CD....follow the instructions.

    4. The setup menu will appear and you should elect to delete all the existing
    Windows partitions, then create a new partition, then format the primary
    partition (preferably NTFS) and proceed to install Windows XP.

    5. Clean Install Windows XP
    http://michaelstevenstech.com/cleanxpinstall.html

    [Courtesy of Michael Stevens, MS-MVP]

    6. ==> Immediately after installing Windows XP, turn on XP's Firewall.
    ==> http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/protect/default.aspx

    7. After Windows XP is installed, visit the Windows Update website
    and download the available "Critical Updates".

    8. After installing the critical updates, be sure and visit the support website
    of the manufacturer of the computer to download and install any
    available Windows XP compatible drivers, such as video adapter
    and audio drivers.

    9. If you happen to run into any installation difficulties, use the following resources:

    How to Troubleshoot Windows XP Problems During Installation
    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;310064

    Troubleshooting Windows XP Setup
    http://www.kellys-korner-xp.com/xp_setup.htm

    [Courtesy of MS-MVP Kelly Theriot]

    --
    Carey Frisch
    Microsoft MVP
    Windows XP - Shell/User
    Microsoft Newsgroups

    Be Smart! Protect Your PC!
    http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/protect/default.mspx

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    :

    | I am having a problem reformatting a Dell Dimension 4550. My friend got this
    | PC about 2 years ago, and unfortunately, he is not computer literate at all.
    | He had the entire McAfee Security suite on it, but did not have it activated
    | and working. He thought that it was on there, so it was OK. Well, his PC
    | completely froze up a few weeks ago, and he called me. I did a quick virus
    | scan and ran Ewido on it. I got over 600 spyware, malware, key loggers, and
    | hijackers and 59 viruses. WOW, no wonder it wouldn't work. I got all but 1
    | pest out, and it had changed a bunch of registry values, and a quick INET
    | search revealed that the 1 pest that was left was an active desktop hijacker
    | that is used the steal credit card numbers. Needless to say, I need to
    | ensure that there are no registry changes that will point right back to this
    | pest.
    |
    | Another unfortunate event is that it is a Dell, and their restore disks are
    | terrible. There is no boot disk at all or a system restore disk of any kind.
    | I have all the driver disks, the OS disk, and an application disk. I really
    | hate the way Dell treats their customers when it comes to their equipment,
    | and this is no exception. My friend told me that Dell didn't even send the
    | disks until about a year after they got the PC. They had called numerous
    | times, and they kept wanting them to buy them. Personally, I don't think
    | that Dell provided a restore disk.
    |
    | So, that is where I am stuck. I cannot reload the OS without a bootable
    | restore disk because the OS disk won't boot. I really need to reformat this
    | disk to ensure that I get everything out. Just re-installing Windows is not
    | going to solve the problem.
    |
    | Can I use the boot disk creator exe file on Microsoft's site for XP home
    | wSP1, or do I have to have one specific for the Dell?
    |
    | I am stuck, and I have been working on this thing for 2 days. If Dell would
    | just use restore disk images like all the other vendors, these people could
    | have fixed this themselves.
    |
    | Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
    | --
    | Cbarton
     
    Carey Frisch [MVP], Feb 12, 2005
    #2
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  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Carey thank you for replying, but what you suggested did not work. Even with
    the CD set to boot first, the PC just boots up. I even tried making the 6
    set boot disk for XP sp 1, and booting with that, but no go.

    All I want is to get a screen that say "This will erase all of the data on
    C:\. Do you want to proceed?" YES I DO.

    I think that it is real crappy of Dell to put their stuff together like
    this. I was on the phone with them for 2 hours today, and they could not
    answer my question or provide me with any documentation on how to reformat
    one of their PC's.

    What is the big deal with creating a system restore image rather than making
    the user figure out which driver the need for which device. They are stupid
    for doing that. The person who owns this PC already said that they would
    NEVER buy another Dell, because of the terrible support and lack of caring by
    the company. All they want is the $$$$.

    I just want to run fdisk, delete my partition, create a new one, and
    reinstall Windows. Is that too much to ask? If you have any other
    suggestions, or if anyone else does, please HELP!!!!!

     
    Guest, Feb 12, 2005
    #3
  4. Guest

    Billy Guest

    Clipped for brevity
    Try holding the control key and F11 during boot. On some models this
    loads the option to access the hidden recovery (ghosted) partition and
    reinstall to the factory specs.
     
    Billy, Feb 12, 2005
    #4
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Thank you Billy, but that did not work either. This PC has me thouroughly
    disgusted. I hate DELL. I have never worked on a DELL for anyone that
    didn't give me a world of fits, but this one tops them all. Dells tech
    support is really crappy also. I was on the phone with them for hours, and
    they couldn't answer my question either. If you get any other ideas, let me
    know. Thank you.
     
    Guest, Feb 12, 2005
    #5
  6. Guest

    Mike Guest

    I have a Dell 4550 and have formatted my hard drive just last year, with no
    incident.I know this info does not help you and your friend. The way I did
    it was the same way Carey explained. There must be more to this problem than
    getting to the format section. If you went to the Bios and selected the
    CD-Rom to boot first and it isn't, maybe it could be this:

    Note: Be sure to make a backup copy of your registry prior to making any
    changes.
    If after you remove CD Burning software, you can no longer access your CD
    ROM's, the following registry keys need to be deleted:

    Locate and delete the UpperFilters and LowerFilters values under the
    following key in the registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM \CurrentControlSet\
    Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}

    Maybe here. Try searching Google also

    http://www.5starsupport.com/faq/xp.htm#1-3

    Just one of many things thing to try

    Mike
     
    Mike, Feb 12, 2005
    #6
  7. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Mike, thank you for the advice, but the CD ROM is working. It works fine. I
    can copy and burn, and I can read. It just will not boot with this disk, and
    reformat. That is the only problem that I had. Someone in Dell's news group
    suggested that I unplug one of the devices (DVD/CD) and only 1 of the devices
    to boot first. I did this, and now, the plug and play will not even
    recognize what kind of device it is. It says unknown. It recognizes that
    something is there, and allows it to work, but it doesn't find the name of
    the device. I hate the computer. I'm going to put it in the garbage can,
    that is what I think I'll do with it. =)
     
    Guest, Feb 12, 2005
    #7
  8. Guest

    Billy Guest

    That trick works to get around the OS loosing the path during install.
    You need to insure the remaining DVD/CD player is the master (jumpers)
    and is on the end of the cable. (Or just insure both devices are
    jumpered right and insure you use the master to install from.

    You have tried using floppy disks and the CD, but the computer only
    boots to the hard drive?
    You have changed the boot order within the BIOS options?
    The last option would be to pull the drive, jumper it for where it will
    end (on the IDE chain) of another computer and format it there.
     
    Billy, Feb 12, 2005
    #8
  9. Guest

    Mike Guest

    I see. Would Dell consider sending a new installation disk for that PC?
    Maybe your friend should visit a trusted technician, if he is really
    interested in getting this fixed.On the hand the garbage can is a bit
    cheaper.lol...

    Mike
     
    Mike, Feb 12, 2005
    #9
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Dell will not send another disk, unless I pay them $230.00, I am considered
    their "trusted" technician, and I think the garbage can is going to be out
    best bet. Another newsgroup that I go to for advice when I'm having a
    problem gave me 2 responses, both were people who had these exact PCs, and 1
    told me that he had this problem when his system board went out and the other
    said that his power supply was bad. They both had the exact same problem. I
    have ran the diagnostic tests, and it says that the devices are OK, but we
    all know that it could be an intermittent problem. I'm leaning more toward
    the system board, and had actually thought that that might be part of the
    problem, but wanted a "second opinion". Occassionally, when I reboot this
    PC, it will give me dumb errors like the drive is missing or the no keyboard
    detected. I can boot again, and it works fine.

    Anyway, by the time that I replace the system board and/or the power supply
    and/or both, a couple of hundred dollars are going to be gone. With a PC
    that is almost 3 years old, I'm not sure it is worth the $$$ to repair it.
    Today, he could get a PC 2X as fast as this one for a couple more hundred
    $$$.

    Thanks for the help. As always, I find more answers on-line that I ever do
    from tech support. These companies should save some dough, and pay the
    newsgroups to answer their questions instead of India. lol
     
    Guest, Feb 12, 2005
    #10
  11. Guest

    D.Currie Guest


    It's interesting, but most experienced computers users feel exactly the
    opposite about the use of a "real" os cd like Dell provides compared to a
    restore CD that only gives the option to reimage the system. With the os cd,
    you can customize the install or do a repair, which isn't possible with the
    image. And for people who have data on the computer that hasn't been backed
    up, reimaging the system can be a tragedy. But if you prefer the images,
    that's certainly your option. I'd suggest that you simply make your own for
    your computers, and then you have what you like, and no need to worry about
    what comes with the computer.

    But even if you had an image, you'd be in the same situation. If you can't
    figure out how to get the computer to boot from the cd, the image disk
    wouldn't run, either, because it also has to be able to boot.

    Rather than beating your brains out, it might be best to get some hands-on
    help so someone can actually see what's going on. I've had plenty of people
    swear to me that their computer wouldn't boot from the cd, but when I got
    the computer into the shop there was no problem. It might be worth your
    friend's while to pay to get this done, because once you've got Windows
    reloaded, you're going to need to install drivers, etc., and if it's already
    been 2 days trying to get the computer to boot from CD, it's going to be a
    long, hard journey getting the job finished.
     
    D.Currie, Feb 12, 2005
    #11
  12. Guest

    Rick S. Guest

    Power up the computer and when the BLUE DELL SCREEN 1st comes on, press CTL
    & F11 , tthat should get you to a recovery screen where you can reformat
    and install Windows XP (with the programs that came with it)
     
    Rick S., Feb 13, 2005
    #12
  13. Guest

    Mike Guest

    I agree with Billy on this statement:

    "The last option would be to pull the drive, jumper it for where it will
    end (on the IDE chain) of another computer and format it there."

    I had problems with a hard drive on windows 98 with format and took the HD
    out and put it in the Dell and had no problems formatting it from there.If
    you have access to another PC. Since you say that the cd rom is reading and
    writing, then I think we can rule a cd rom problem out. I guess when you put
    the HD back in the Dell you will know what other problems you have with that
    system, and go from there.

    Keep us posted.
    Mike
     
    Mike, Feb 13, 2005
    #13
  14. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Thanks Mike and Billy. Yes, I have done all of this. I have flashed the
    bios, I have reset the CMOS. I even removed the DVD drive so that all the PC
    could see is the CD drive and then flip flopped removing the CD drive and
    leaving only the DVD drive. I have the sequence set to boot to the CD
    device, then A:\, then HD. My last option is to start swapping parts, as
    you've stated, but I don't have a bunch of available parts, so I'm outta luck
    here. I'm not messing my PC up to try to fix someone elses.

    I live in a very rural area, and there are no PC shops around for over 150
    miles, so that is why everyone calls me. I am an experienced user, and have
    fixed hundreds of PCs. I have a 4 year degree in CIS, and have been working
    with computers for 20 years. I am a network admin. and take care of over 200
    PC's, 100 printers, 30 connectivity devices, 2 servers, and 400 users.
    Unfortunately, we all meet our limits, and this PC has touched on mine. When
    I get stuck on something, I come here.

    Thanks for all you help guys. I appreciate it. =)
     
    Guest, Feb 13, 2005
    #14
  15. Guest

    Billy Guest

    Sometimes when I have needed to quickly scan or clean a client's drive,
    I'll pull my CD's IDE and power cables, attach the wayward drive, power
    up into my utilities and be done with it. Two minutes total for setup
    and reattachment, no risk to my system.
     
    Billy, Feb 13, 2005
    #15
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