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Reformat a Dell with no backup XP CD?

TimTim Southwest PA Icrontian
edited Sep 2010 in Technology
Someone wants me to fix their Dell XPS 400 computer. Their kids have it all junked up with games and downloads and spyware and adware and such things.

My normal route would be to save all important files, which we've done already, then do a complete hard drive reformat / reload of everything.

But these new Dells don't come with a backup CD with all the drivers and special programs. It seems that their only cure is a System Restore (which won't get rid of viruses and spyware as far as I know), and other tools on the hard drive to make it like Day 1 again. I can get an XP CD for the reinstall / reformat.

I'm used to the full reformat route, I haven't had a virus get through that yet.

But what if I do a format, then I need a bunch of drivers and special programs? I could use my laptop and a USB flash drive to download files from Dell and transfer them over, I just wonder if it'd be more hassle than it's worth.

What is my best option for getting rid of the viruses and not having to do special software downloads from Dell for 3 hours afterwards?

Comments

  • RWBRWB Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    The system restore should do the trick.... and it's fairly fast IIRC; in comparison with the normal route. Do that then uninstall all the crap, do a few spyware sweeps, do you thing I am sure you know ;)

    After I did all that it seemed to help out alot, I haven't heard from the guy about Virus's or anything since I got rid of the default crap and put my favorite stuffs on, he also has the XPS system..
  • TimTim Southwest PA Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    Yes, but will a system restore EFFECTIVELY eliminate all the viruses and spyware and excess program installations? I don't think it will.

    I tried running AdAware SE, and there was still junk on the system.

    Besides, I'm getting $30 an hour for this, I don't want to get done with the job TOO quickly, as that will only hurt my money. I just want to do as little work as possible, and have the computer clean and running smoothly when I'm done. That makes a happy customer AND a happy bank account!
  • MissilemanMissileman Orlando, Florida Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    The system restore on a Dell laptop will wipe evrything on the partition and restore a factory fresh drive image similar to how Acronis works. Dell uses a new style Ghost though. They have a small boot partition (about 36Mb) which boots up and restores from an image stored on the hard drive as a hidden partition.

    It will format the user partition and restore to the factory new clean image.

    This will destroy eveything on the user partition. This isn't a Windows restore.

    I have done it several times for people.

    You'll only have to redo the WinXP updates and whatever drivers are new since unit shipped.
  • TimTim Southwest PA Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    You said that's how it works on a Dell laptop, how about on an XPS 400 desktop? Same thing?
  • mtroxmtrox Minnesota
    edited Aug 2006
    Tim wrote:
    You said that's how it works on a Dell laptop, how about on an XPS 400 desktop? Same thing?

    Yes Tim. They don't have a separate method for each computer. I haven't done it on an XPS 400 but have done it on a Dimension. It's a ghost image and replaces the entire file system.....meaning everything is gone.

    The bad news is you are back to the day they bought it. The good news.....it only takes about 10 minutes. It's slick as hell. Dell does something right.....
  • MissilemanMissileman Orlando, Florida Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    I just set up a new Dell Desktop for a guy the other day and it was set the same way.

    I know because I had to remove the hidden partition for him to get a set amount of space (100GB) in the partition. It was a 160GB drive and it was the only way I could get 100GB contiguous he needed for an auto parts database.

    It really is a slick system.

    The pros and cons are like mtrox said. Resets to fresh out of the box, but you have to reupdate drivers and XP updates since it was released.

    Still better than a whole re-install.
  • TimTim Southwest PA Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    Sounds like a good system. My main concern is getting all the viruses and spyware off the system. When I loaded them the first time, AVG antivirus was finding viruses left and right, and AdAware SE took out over 250 things. Depending on the user account, there were 65-107 processes running!:eek2:

    But there were still a lot of excess programs running in the background. The guy has 4 daughters ages 6-12, so there were a lot of games and "Click here to download a photo of something or someone" type stuff on it.

    As long as the computer will be internet functional after the restore, I can go online to Dell and Microsoft and re-download the updates and drivers. No big deal there. I just have to put on a good show to justify why I'm there for a few hours, which shouldn't be a problem!:screwed:

    We'll see how it goes.
  • TimTim Southwest PA Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    System Restore MY ASS!!!:mean: That computer was a BITCH, no matter how you look at it.

    System Restore said it could not restore to any given date about a dozen times. Between about 10 different dates to restore to.

    My XP boot CD (a full version of XP Home, no service packs on it) failed several times. It'd load up the files, then just as you got to the screen where you can start selecting things, it'd BSOD. Every time.

    I could go on and on, but the short version is that this was the most F@#KED UP computer I've ever worked on. I called a well known computer guy during the job, and he said that Dell locks down things in the BIOS, and you'd have to change something in the BIOS screen to even load the XP disc.

    Well I tried lots of things there and it still wouldn't go.

    In addition, AVG antivirus kept screwing up, and even getting it to uninstall was a pain, and the computer owner had Trend Micro PC-Cillin or something like that on it, and it'd keep popping up saying the same file was infected. But it was never able to do anything about it.

    So in the end, the people weren't mad because they saw me spend nearly 6 hours on their Dell POS, so I took only a small partial payment and let it go at that. They're going to try and return it / exchange it with Dell, or so they said. :crazy:
  • MissilemanMissileman Orlando, Florida Icrontian
    edited Aug 2006
    You should have hit Ctrl-F11 I think it is when the Dell screen was up.

    Then you would have gotten a menu to restore the whole disk. It has nothing to do with restore points inside XP.

    I'm sorry but I thought you understood what we were saying.
  • mtroxmtrox Minnesota
    edited Aug 2006
    Tim,

    I hate to tell you but there's been a huge misunderstanding here. When we were talking about System Restore, we didn't mean that System Restore. The one with the dates is the one built into Windows. A lot of spyware will screw with that one. We were talking about the one that wipes out your hard drive and starts over. I took this from the Dell web site.

    DellRestore.jpg
  • edited Feb 2007
    just a quick question
    but who in their right mind offers to help with something they know hardly a thing about?

    just curious. :P good luck - :tongue:
  • edited Jul 2007
    Yeah..Im having the same problems but I just talked to Dell Tech and they are sending me the Dell OS disk.

    One thing repliers didnt address Tim is how to get everything off the PC which generally destroys bugs and viruses. A complete wipe out not a Norton Restore Back to Factory Settings because doing just that cant kill anything that may be hiding deep.

    I have tried the Restore to factory settings Symantech thingamajig and trust me...it doesnt work for viruses that are buried deep. I tried it many times and it just doesnt stop what I want it to stop namely "blue screen of deaths" minidumps.

    So I guess the BIOS A07 is going to cause problems...oh what fun. Now Im scared if i go through with this it will only make things worse..any suggestions Tim?
  • edited Dec 2007
    My computer is coming up with a message "lsass.exe operation failed" and when I click "ok" it shuts down and restarts. I can't get into safe mode or anything. It is a Dell and there is no OS disk. I've tried using the Windows disk and restore disk and still get the same message. Do you know if this is a hard drive problem? And if so, how can I get to a place to reformat the hard drive when I can't even get into safe mode? Thank you!
  • spycespyce Bermuda
    edited Jan 2008
    mtrox wrote:
    Tim,

    I hate to tell you but there's been a huge misunderstanding here. When we were talking about System Restore, we didn't mean that System Restore. The one with the dates is the one built into Windows. A lot of spyware will screw with that one. We were talking about the one that wipes out your hard drive and starts over. I took this from the Dell web site.

    DellRestore.jpg

    mtrox,

    Your response to Tim's problem is the closest thing I've seen to my own issue. Only thing is that my Dell is pre-July 2004 so the <Ctrl> <F11> combination of keys doesn't work. Do you have a solution for restoring my Dell back to Day 1?
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Pokémaster, Watch Slut Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited Jan 2008
    You need the CD pre-2004.
  • spycespyce Bermuda
    edited Jan 2008
    Thrax,

    I have the CD but for some reason it won't boot from CD Rom - here's what I've tried so far.

    I have Dell Dimension XPS bought pre July 2004. I note that date because the <Ctrl> <F11> method for System Restore provided to the other member works on Dell Dimensions shipped after that date.

    My computer works but it's so full of crap and slow that I want to start afresh. I tried to boot from CD Rom but I think that as there is a valid Windows version on the hard drive it isn't allowing that. I went into BIOS and unchecked the A: and C: drives so that it would only boot from the CD Rom but it gave a message of "Boot device not available" or something like that.

    The CD Rom drive and the original reinstallation CD with Operating System on it both work fine as the CD will Autoplay. If I select the Option "Install Windows XP" then a message stating "Setup cannot continue because a newer version of Windows is on the computer" comes up. It seems to suggest that I could delete the newer version of Windows but if I did then would that not mean that I wouldn't be able to boot the computer up properly and access the CD through Autoplay? Plus how do I even go about deleting Windows?

    The Windows System Restore method doesn't allow me to go back any further than October 2007 (3 months).

    Any suggestions?
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Pokémaster, Watch Slut Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited Jan 2008
    Do you have any other bootable CDs that you could try? ROMs that are going bad often fail to boot CDs properly.
  • edited Jan 2008
    spyce, just a shot in the dark here, but something you should check out. My old Dell laptop from around the 1998 era had a couple of hidden files on the C drive used for restoring, IIRC. The one that would restore everything to new status was "zztop.exe". In the tools dropdown of windows explorer, enable viewing hidden files and see if there is that exe file on the root drive.
  • Gate28Gate28 Orlando, Florida Icrontian
    edited Jan 2008
    If it's still needed, i have a pre-2004 Dell XPS 400 with the recovery disks that ill be happy to send you!

    Also, slap their mother for me for getting ripped off by dell on an XPS ($1400 for a radeon x550, half a gig of ram, and a cheapy CPU)
  • spycespyce Bermuda
    edited Jan 2008
    Thanks for the offer Gate28 but I have the CD's and have a hardware issue - pretty sure it's due to the BIOS not recognising the CD-ROM drive. The Dell I have also has a CD RW and I put the bootable CD in that but it doesn't seem to find it as I think it's only looking at this CD-ROM that doesn't work properly.
  • Your-Amish-DaddyYour-Amish-Daddy The heart of Texas
    edited Jan 2008
    Forgive this, but you're well boffed and far from home.
  • edited Apr 2008
    ZzzZZzZZZzz I have similer problem. I have a Dell XPS 720, and a friend who shall remain nameless actually deleted the partition with the backup programs in it, so I am stuck with a computer which I can not reformat. I have XP cd's and vista cd's but basically as soon as the disk finishes loading the data, and attempts to run the program I get a blue screen of death (I figured it was dell blocking me from reformatting my comp - zzzzzzz) Anybody have a solution? Much appreciated.
  • Your-Amish-DaddyYour-Amish-Daddy The heart of Texas
    edited Apr 2008
    What's with the Z's? Tell me what the bluescreen says.
  • edited Apr 2008
    A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer.

    If this is the first time you've seen this Stop error screen,
    restart your computer. If this screen appears again, follow
    these steps:

    Check for viruses on your computer. Remove any newly installed
    hard drives or hard drive controllers. Check your hard drive
    to make sure it is properly configured and terminated.
    Run CHKDSK /F to check for hard drive corruption, and then
    restart your computer.

    Technical Information:

    *** STOP: 0x0000007B (0xBACC3524,0xC0000034,0x00000000,0x00000000)

    -PS: zzz's are for I'm tired of trying to reformat lol.
  • Your-Amish-DaddyYour-Amish-Daddy The heart of Texas
    edited Apr 2008
    That error means that the device it's looking for is not avaliable, Inaccessible Boot Device. Something that was there during the OS set up is gone, or the driver isn't readily available.
  • edited Apr 2008
    I wish it was that easy lol. I've tried like 3 different boot disks for different OS's (64 xp, 32 vista and 32 xp) Basically my theory is that recently when Dell spits out their machines they are messing with the bios and restricting what you can do with them, thats why it's not letting me reformat.

    -Oh and before any one asks, no I havn't touched the hardware lol ^^
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Apr 2008
    Jarrad wrote:
    I wish it was that easy lol. I've tried like 3 different boot disks for different OS's (64 xp, 32 vista and 32 xp) Basically my theory is that recently when Dell spits out their machines they are messing with the bios and restricting what you can do with them, thats why it's not letting me reformat.

    -Oh and before any one asks, no I havn't touched the hardware lol ^^

    Your theory is wrong. Dell does nothing to prevent anyone from reformatting and installing things on their boxes.

    Are these legit actual windows cd's and not recovery cd's that have been shipped with say other dell's or name brand computers? If you are getting that stop error it's telling you that you have a hardware problem. Now if it's a recovery cd you're using then the hardware error is because you are trying to run a recovery install on a system that it's not designed for. If these are actual legit windows installation cd's and you are getting that error then you have a general hardware error.

    Then the most usual culprit is bad ram, in which case you should run memtest on it. Additionally if you want to check out your hardware get a copy of ubuntu from ubuntu.com. It's a live linux cd (also has memtest as an option). You boot up with the cd in the drive and it'll run linux off of the cd without installing anything on your computer. It's a good way to check for more common hardware problems.
  • edited Apr 2008
    lol my comp is basically brand new gameing rig with 0 faults. They are also legit window's cd's which I've used to reformat upto 10 times with in the past so that shouldn't be the reason. Im pretty much positive it has something to do with dells drivers because I read a couple of other forums where people had the same problem, however their guides weren't so successful for me lol >.<. My cousin sent an email to his Dell rep today to see if he can help out but as far as I can tell, the most they could do is send me a CD with drivers on it, which may/may not work.
  • EssoEsso Stockholm, Sweden
    edited Apr 2008
    Did you install SATA driver (i.e using the F6 key and 3.5" floppy) ?

    But my guess is that Dell has removed the 3.5" floppy on the Dell XPS 720.
    dual boot on dell xps 720 - Richi

    Dell XPS 720 help for install Window XP?

    This can be fixed by Slipstreaming Windows XP with SATA drivers.

    Dell XPS-720 Chipset: "NVIDIA nForce® 680i SLI TM Chipset for Intel (D)1

    Nvidia chipset

    Dell XP drivers
  • Your-Amish-DaddyYour-Amish-Daddy The heart of Texas
    edited Apr 2008
    Jarrad wrote:
    ....is basically brand new gameing rig with 0 faults....

    Everything that exists has faults. Down to the eyes you use to see, the fingers you use to touch, and the brain that you used to formulate that passage of illiteracy. Hostility aside I think I have a theory you can try for me.

    The Dell XPS720 uses the 680i chipset as stated by Esso. In theory, this should work; if the PE system is what I think it is. I'm not going to test it because I leave well enough alone...And if I disable IDE on my motherboard, my SATA is read blind.

    Step 1 is quite long. Make a BartPE disc of your XP install disc. Instructions here, follow to the letter. You are going to need a working computer with a CD/DVD burner depending on how you want to do this. CD at a minimum, but you will most likely need a flash drive with about 256+ available, since I don't know how big the Nforce 680 package is.

    Step 2 is probably the easiest in the world. Put the Nforce package on the flash drive.

    Step 3 is boot the PE disc you made, and after it loads, Try installing the Nforce package. It might work. Usually I just drop the driver files in the drivers folder, but it might work.

    Step 4, Pray to ENIMAC and pray that it worked. If not, just try going into your bios and looking for a setting that says SATA mode, IDE emulation, compatibility, legacy whatever...And see if there's a setting for it that says
    anything like legacy, or if you see SATA Ide emulation, turn that on.

    If this theory works, you should be able to boot normally from your hard disk. If not...Well I can't help you because I'm not there. I don't do tech support from a distance...Difficult for me to do since I can't see what you see and the human brain doesn't upscale.
  • edited Apr 2008
    Wow thanks Esso and Daddy, I'll get on it and see if it works. I'll get back to you to you and tell you if it works.
  • edited May 2008
    i have the same problem as Tim on page 1 a dimension that needs help with no cds, it has a second back up partition and i made it active, tried to boot ....now it says NTLDR is missing any ideas? :-s do i need an xp cd? if yes when i install it will it delete the second partition?
  • Your-Amish-DaddyYour-Amish-Daddy The heart of Texas
    edited May 2008
    Search the forums for "NTDLR Missing". You'll find it to be a wealth of knowledge.
  • GhandiGhandi Warrington
    edited Sep 2009
    Hello all,

    May 2008 hey? I'm reserfacing an old thread here I know.

    I have been put forward to fix a DELL Inspiron 3100 computer for one of the bosses at my workplace, the problem is I have jumped the gun and deleted the boot partition. Being a DELL machine it wont accept any installation disc other than the correct OEM disc. My options are:

    (1) Install using a copy of the OEM disc, as suggested by DELL technical support,
    which is unsurprising considering they want to charge us £60 for said disc or,
    (2) Or somehow recover the boot partition, using ghost.

    So I'm asking for any of two thing I guess, does anybody happen to have the necessary installation disc or boot partition they can make an image of for the required model?

    -Ghandi
  • edited Dec 2009
    I completely re-formated my Dell with a disk from Western Digital. It was my Dad's and he doesn't remember where he got it. I've used it several times. It totally wipes the hard drive, and gives you partition options if you need them. It's quick. I insert it, select to reformat, select main drive, a few more clicks because it makes sure you want to wipe the drive, then it wipes the drive clean. I then re-install windows, and move on. Google Western Digital and see if you can get the disk. Super handy and kills every virus. I reformat every once in a while just for house cleaning.
  • lulululu texas
    edited Sep 2010
    mtrox wrote:
    Tim,

    I hate to tell you but there's been a huge misunderstanding here. When we were talking about System Restore, we didn't mean that System Restore. The one with the dates is the one built into Windows. A lot of spyware will screw with that one. We were talking about the one that wipes out your hard drive and starts over. I took this from the Dell web site.

    DellRestore.jpg

    hey tim? does this also restore all your drivers once you do this? or will i have to restore all my drivers back? I forgot what my lap top was, windows vists i know, lap top, got it last year
  • lulululu texas
    edited Sep 2010
    mtrox wrote:
    Tim,

    I hate to tell you but there's been a huge misunderstanding here. When we were talking about System Restore, we didn't mean that System Restore. The one with the dates is the one built into Windows. A lot of spyware will screw with that one. We were talking about the one that wipes out your hard drive and starts over. I took this from the Dell web site.

    DellRestore.jpg
    i said tim, i meant this message for any one actually
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