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    Default Dell System Recovery Guide

    Dell System Recovery Guide-Winter 2010
    Written by Richard Hamilton – Thomas Chace-Contributor/Proofreader

    Need to recover your Dell, but don’t know where to start? Just Curious? Look no further, as this guide will walk you through the system recovery process. Whether you use XP, Vista, or 7, you’ll be back up and running in no time. I’ll go over the pro’s and con’s of each recovery method, so you can make an informed decision. Unlike some other computer makers, the recovery method’s Dell has offered has changed over time, hence the need for this guide.
    *Special thanks to fellow forum member Thomas for providing me with additional info about his particular recovery disk setup, some tips, and helping with the layout of the guide*

    Guide Quick Index
    Last edited by booboo12; 24th January 2010 at 08:39 PM.
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    Default Dell System Recovery Guide-Your Restoration Options

    Your Restoration Options


    There are 2 recovery methods available for most systems. I’ll outline them along with their pros and cons below.

    Dell PC Restore/Recovery Partition

    With this recovery method, you can recover your system literally within minutes. It uses a separate section of your hard disk called a partition that contains a system image. Think of this image as a “snapshot” of your computer’s hard drive contents, all the applications, Dell customizations, etc. when the computer left the factory. Recovering in this manner results in you losing all data and programs you added after you bought your computer. On systems with Windows XP, this was done via a restoration solution called “Dell PC Restore” by Symantec, the same company behind the Norton line of backup/security software. In Windows Vista and 7, this is done using Microsoft provided tools.

    *For the more technically curious, here is an excellent in depth look at the inner workings of Dell PC Restore*
    XP systems: Inside the Dell PC Restore Partition
    Vista/7 Systems: http://www.goodells.net/dellrestore/vista.htm


    Pros of using Dell PC Restore/Recovery Partition
    • Fast restore times-You can be fully up and running in minutes
    • Easy to use-You can start the process in a few clicks
    • No optical drive needed

    Cons of using Dell PC Restore/Recovery Partition
    • Less Flexibility: You can’t opt out of installing software contained in the recovery image that you don’t need. It’s “All or Nothing”
    • If something happens to the hard disk, you can’t use the partition to recover the computer. This is why, on most Dell systems, you’ll receive a second way of recovery that we’ll discuss below.

    Physical Recovery Media

    With this method, you use the CD’s/DVD’s that Dell provides to restore your system. Oddly, there are two kinds of Dell recovery media floating around. I’ll discuss both along with their pros and cons below.

    Full OS Recovery media

    This is the most common kind of Dell Recovery media, although from around May 2010, Dell is no longer providing this form of recovery media for it's Windows 7 consumer brand systems (Inspiron/Inspiron Mini, Studio, Studio XPS, Adamo) It includes a CD/DVD with just the operating system*, and a CD/DVD containing Drivers and system software known as the Resource CD/Dell Diagnostics disc. In addition, you will also have discs for software like Microsoft Works/Office/WordPerfect and Security software like Norton/McAfee/Trend Micro that shipped with your system if you didn’t opt out during the configuration process.**

    *Hat Tip to Thomas: While most people’s Operating System discs with this kind of media contain just the OS, Thomas reports that at least on his XP MCE 2005 OS CD, there comes a point in the install process where, after you set up the user accounts, a message appears onscreen saying its “installing applications.” He hasn’t seen this on any other XP installs he’s done and neither have I. He reports that popping the disc out just before the “installing applications” screen appears causes the install to fail. What does work is copying the contents of the install DVD to the hard disk, deleting the OEM folder, then burning the disc. I haven’t reported this happening on Windows Vista Full OS media. Windows 7 OS media should install just like Vista.


    ** Recently, Dell’s been making a switch from providing physical media for additional software included on the machine to making these available online through My Dell Downloads. Once set up on an eligible machine, you can download and burn the installers for the preloaded software from My Dell Downloads to physical media if you like. Not only is this beneficial from a environmental impact standpoint, but it addresses owners of netbooks, (Mini 9, 10 and 12/Latitude 2100) and CULV thin and lights (Latitude Z, Vostro V13, Inspiron/Studio Z series, Dell Adamo) since these systems often do not come with optical disk drives.
    Click here to learn more

    Pros of using Full OS Recovery Media
    • The most flexible way to restore the computer-You are in control as to what software gets installed.
    • Allows you to perform a clean install of Windows when you receive the machine, which is handy if you forgot to decline added software in the configurator, or your system was available in a limited configuration.-For more on this, look into fellow forum member Les’ excellent guide to doing a Clean Install of Vista and Windows 7 on Dell systems here.
    Cons of using Full OS Recovery Media
    • Time consuming-Set aside an hour or two to do this, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the installation process.
    • While the Resource CD does a lot of the driver work for you, you still need to know what order to install the drivers in-I’ll list this order for you.

    Recovery Partition Based Recovery Media
    Timespan(s): Dec 17, 2004 to July 15, 2005 and May 2010 to Present (Windows 7 systems only)

    This used to be much rarer, and was only done from December 17, 2004 to July 15, 2005. I’ve only seen one machine, my uncle’s Dimension 2400 from 2004/2005 have this kind of physical media, but from May 2010 onward all Dell consumer systems will use this recovery method. Like machines from HP/Compaq, Gateway/Acer, and others today, you had to make sure you burned a set of recovery discs when you got the computer. You can only burn one set. If you mess up a set, you have to ask Dell to send recovery media to you. The contents of the discs made this way are straight from the recovery partition we talked about in section 1. This means that you get many of the Pros and Cons of the Dell PC Restore recovery method.

    *If you realize that your system falls into the aforementioned time span, and you haven’t burned off a set of recovery disks, do so right away. It takes 30 minutes so make sure you do it during a time where you won’t be using the machine. For instructions see the following links based on the operating system your computer came with:
    ---------------------------------------------------
    My computer came with Windows XP
    My computer came with Windows 7
    *Label the discs and put them in a safe place*


    Pros of using Recovery Partition based Physical Media
    • A hard disk crash won’t affect this media
    • Quick recovery-You’ll be up and running in minutes
    Cons of using Recovery Partition based Physical Media
    • All the cons of Dell PC Restore
    Last edited by booboo12; 9th May 2010 at 05:37 PM. Reason: updated to reflect May 2010 Recovery Option Changes
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    Default Dell System Recovery Guide-Restoration Prerequsites

    Restoration Prerequisites

    Regardless of which restoration method you choose, make sure you do the following:
    Backup your data if you can- We cannot stress this enough, you MUST backup if at all possible. Why? Because both restoration methods WILL cause you to lose all the information stored on the hard disk. There’s several ways to backup, but the easiest is simply dragging and dropping your files onto an external hard disk, CD/DVD, or another computer on your home network. You can simply copy and paste your user profile folder to the external hard disk if you want. To get there in Windows XP, open My Computer then double click the hard drive icon. Once in the C: drive, copy the documents and settings folder to the external hard drive. This will back up everyone's files in one straight shot. If your in Vista or Windows 7, you can accomplish the same thing by copying the "Users" folder to the external hard drive. For all OS's, make sure you perform this action as an administrator.

    Gather your disc’s for any software you added to your computer since you bought it. If you still have the download files for software you’ve downloaded off the internet, make sure you back those up as well.

    Ok, so you’re ready to restore. In the interest of making this guide as clean as possible, We’ve split each restore method’s instructions into separate posts. Like Neo in The Matrix, you now have to make a choice, lol.

    I want to restore using the PC Restore Partition/Recovery Partition.

    I want to restore using my Full OS CD/DVD’s and Resource CD/DVD.
    Last edited by booboo12; 23rd January 2010 at 09:16 PM.
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    Default Dell System Recovery Guide-Restoring Using Dell PC Restore/Recovery Partition

    Restoring Using Dell PC Restore/Recovery Partition

    Before you begin, have you:
    1. Backed up your data?
    2. Gathered all your discs for software downloaded/purchased after you bought your computer, along with their license/product keys (if applicable)?
    The exact restoration process differs in Windows XP from Windows Vista and Windows 7. To restore a Windows XP system, (except the Mini 9 and Vostro A90 netbooks, as they don't have a F11 key) do the following:
    1. Remove anything that's plugged into the notebook-This helps ensure that the Windows installation will go smoothly. If your plugged into a docking station, eject the computer from the docking station.
    2. Turn off the computer
    3. Turn on the computer, at the "Dell" splash screen hold down CTRL and press F11. Let go of both keys.
    4. Follow the prompts to restore the computer on the Dell PC restore screen. If a confirmation message is displayed, click "Confirm"
    5. When prompted to restart the computer, click "Finish"
    6. Follow the Windows XP system setup process then jump to the "What should you do after restoration" portion of this guide
    If your using Windows Vista or Windows 7, follow these steps:
    1. Remove anything that's plugged into the notebook-This helps ensure that the Windows installation will go smoothly. If your plugged into a docking station, eject the computer from the docking station.
    2. Turn off the computer
    3. Turn on the computer. After the Dell splash screen loads, but before you see the Windows splash screen, hit the F8 key repeatedly to bring up the "Advanced Boot Options" menu. If you don't manage to get it started, keep trying.
    4. Using the arrow keys on the keyboard, move down to highlight "Repair Your Computer" then hit the Enter key.
    5. When the Windows Recovery window opens, choose a language, then log on as a user that has Administrative rights.
    6. Click on "Dell Factory Image Restore" and follow the prompts. Confirm that you want to restore by checking the checkbox and clicking "Next."
    7. When the restore is complete, click "Finish" to restart the computer
    8. Jump to the "What should you do after restoration" part of this guide.
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    Default Dell System Recovery Guide-Restoring using Full OS CD/DVDís and the Resource CD/DVD

    Restoring using Full OS Recovery Media and the Resource CD

    Restoring this way takes a bit longer than using Dell PC Restore. Plan to spend a hour installing the OS and Drivers.

    *If you have a Dell system w/out a optical drive, you'll need to use an external Optical Drive to install the OS. Other installation methods might be possible, but are outside the scope of this guide. You can ask about those in the Windows OS and Software forum on NBR.

    Before you begin:
    1. Backup your computer, you will lose all your files during the re installation process.
    2. Gather your discs. You'll need the following:
    • Dell OS CD-This disc may be a CD or DVD. Regardless, this has the Operating System on it. You need this to recover the computer.

      (Your disc might be a different color)
    • Dell Resource CD-This disc has the drivers and essential software (like Dell's Quickset Software) you need to get all the devices functioning properly after installing the OS. It also contains a copy of Dell Diagnostics, that you can run if you suspect your computer has a hardware problem.
    • CD's for any software/hardware (like a printer) that came with your computer, software/hardware you ordered to be shipped along with it, and or software/hardware you bought after you had your computer.
    Ok, now let's start the restoration process. To restore a XP system:
    1. Place the XP CD in the optical drive and close tray. Turn off the computer.
    2. Set the boot order to the CD drive. To do this, start the computer and when the Dell splash screen appears, hit F12. Highlight the CD drive entry in the list and hit enter.
    3. Walk through the XP setup wizard. When the XP partitioning screen is displayed, highlight the largest partition you see and hit Enter. If you aren't careful, you might accidentally reformat the Media Direct (if so equipped) partition or the Dell PC Restore partition. If the disc asks to format the partition, choose "Format the partition using the NTFS file system (Quick)" to format the drive.
    4. The computer will restart, once it restarts, finish stepping through the install wizard.
    5. The computer will restart one more time, then detect system drivers. If the message "Press any key to boot from the CD" appears, ignore this.
    6. Now your ready to install Drivers and System Software using the Resource CD.
    To restore a Vista or Windows 7 System
    1. Place the Vista/7 DVD in the optical drive and close tray. Turn off the computer.
    2. Set the boot order to the CD drive. To do this, start the computer and when the Dell splash screen appears, hit F12. Highlight the CD drive entry in the list and hit enter.
    3. When Vista/7's setup program loads, choose your language, time, and currency/keyboard settings and click next.
    4. Click install now and accept the license terms.
    5. Choose "Custom" (advanced) install on the "Which type of installation do you want?" screen.
    6. On the "Where do you want to install Windows" screen, look carefully as this is a bit tricky. Make sure you select the largest "Primary Partition" then click next.
    7. Go ahead and finish the setup wizard using recommended settings when prompted.
    8. Now your ready to install Drivers and System Software using the Dell Resource CD.
    Last edited by booboo12; 23rd January 2010 at 07:55 PM.
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    Default Dell System Recovery Guide-What To Do After The Restoration Process

    Restoring using the Dell Image Based Recovery Disk

    Before you begin, have you:
    1. Backed up your data?
    2. Gathered all your discs for software downloaded/purchased after you bought your computer, along with their license/product keys (if applicable)?
    I haven't found the correct Dell support document regarding restoring from the Dell DataSafe Discs. However, I can tell you that placing the first disk into the system, and booting from it should display restoration options. You would then use the DataSafe wizard to complete the process.

    1. Place the first DataSafe disc you created into the computer, then turn it off.
    2. Turn the computer on, when the Dell splash logo is displayed, press F12 to access the boot menu.
    3. Use the up and down arrows on the keyboard to highlight the CD/DVD/Optical Drive and press enter.
    4. Follow the prompts on Dell DataSafe.
    5. When the process is complete, remove the disc and put them in a safe place.
    6. Go to the section in this post below titled "Final Thoughts."

    What To Do After The Restoration Process

    So now your computer looks like its ready to go, but before you hit that "Start" button you have a bit more work to do.

    If you used Dell PC Restore/Recovery Partition or the homemade discs that are based off of the partition, you can scroll to the "Final Thoughts" section below, as your computer was returned to its factory configuration with all drivers installed.

    "Why's my monitor fuzzy?" "Why can't i sync my phone over bluetooth?" "Where's my webcam?" Those are just a few questions that you might ask if you don't complete setting up your machine. You need to install drivers to let your computer's hardware "Talk" to Windows, and vice versa. Here's how.
    1. Insert your Resource CD/DVD into the optical drive. Close the drive.
    2. If a window like what's shown below shows up, click Run autoRcd.exe.
    3. Click "OK" to run the installer. Accept the UAC prompt if one appears.
    4. Click "next" in the welcome window. The Dell ResourceCD will check hardware in the computer, so it will show the drivers you need. The drivers you need to install have a "checkmark" next to their entry in the list. Install the Drivers in the following order: (from top of list, to bottom)
    • Notebook/Desktop System Software
    • Chipset
    • Video Adapter
    • Network Interface Card (NIC)
    • Audio Adapter
    • Modem
    • Wireless Network Card
    • Touchpad, Pointer, Trackstick, Mice, and Keyboard
    • Other Devices (Bluetooth Module, Dell Wireless Mobile Broadband Cards, PCMIA/Smartcard Controller)
    You might be prompted to restart your computer after installing each driver. You can usually uncheck the restart the computer box or hit "No" on the dialog box to cancel the restart. After your done installing drivers, restart the computer.

    Final Thoughts

    After you've installed drivers successfully, you can now go ahead and install software and restore your documents from your backup. You DID backup didn't you? If your an advanced user, you might just want to hop online and install the latest drivers from support.dell.com. Also, if your system is in My Dell Downloads, head over there to pick out software you might want to reinstall.

    Make sure you turn on/install Antivirus software, and keep it up to date. Microsoft Security Essentials is free and available for XP, Vista and 7.- www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/

    If your on Windows XP, you might want to check for and install Windows Updates faster than the automatic updates interval. You can do this by opening IE and going to the Windows Update website: windowsupdate.microsoft.com

    We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post below.

    Thank you! Richard and Thomas
    Last edited by booboo12; 9th May 2010 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Added steps for Recovering from Dell DataSafe discs made in Windows 7
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    Default Re: Dell System Recovery Guide

    What a thorough guide, Richard. Thank you very much for this!
    Kudos! It was nice that Thomas helped you on this..thx to him also.


    This will very helpful to the forum members & myself!

    This should be "stickied"



    Cin

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dell System Recovery Guide

    Alright, we are indeed pinning this thread as a replacement for Les' Vista-specific reformat/restore guide. For the record, a link to the older thread is provided here:

    Dell Vista Laptop Reformat and Bloatware Removal Guide
    n o n s e n s e - w a r s . c o m

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    Default Re: Dell System Recovery Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Commander Wolf View Post
    Alright, we are indeed pinning this thread as a replacement for Les' Vista-specific reformat/restore guide. For the record, a link to the older thread is provided here:

    Dell Vista Laptop Reformat and Bloatware Removal Guide
    Wow! This is awesome! And thanks Commander Wolf for keeping Les' guide available, as it does remain a valuable resource!

    Thanks again,

    Ricky
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    Default Re: Dell System Recovery Guide

    Quote Originally Posted by HENARRY JAYA View Post
    Please refer to this dell support article explain in step to step format on how to do a system restore.
    Update your video card drivers. They were probably lost during the crash. You don't need to install drivers for most (if not all) monitors. I've never had to install a driver for a monitor..
    When you use the Dell Resource CD, it will give you the correct driver to install. You can then get the latest driver either from Ati, nVidia or Intel directly, or from Windows Update.
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