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System Recovery on Dell desktop PC

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Old 05-02-2009, 06:15 AM   #1
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Hello,

- I'm not sure if I'm posting this in the right place; I hope so

My problem is

* I have a DELL Dimension 3100 (purchased in 2006).

* My Windows XP Home crashed (seemingly because of malware)

* I've installed another Windows - parallely - on my second HDD. It's only temporary solution: what I'm going to do is move all my data from C: and re-install Windows on my primary HDD

* I heard that Dell computers (including desktops) provide the "System Restore" option - restoring the operating system to the out-of-the-box state, from hidden partition.

* It doesn't seem to work though: I'm pressing Ctrl+F11 (I tried F11 as well) when the computer is booting up, but it doesn't do anything.

* I haven't found any "recovery disc", nor a Windows disc among the CDs I have got.
I'm not sure if the computer was shipped with anything of that sort (I can't remember), I have to assume it wasn't.

* I know that I can, and perhaps I should contact the Dell support, but I hoped I could get a quick answer here...

My questions, precisely, are:

1. How can I check whether I have this hidden "system recovery" partition at all?
(I've certainly never removed it, since until now I haven't even known such a thing may exist).

2. Do I need any CD to perform this System Recovery?

Thanks in advance for any help

PS. I tried to search the forum first, but with every attempt I was ending up on the http://www.techsupportforum.com/search.php?do=process site with a blank screen (then I have to wait 1 minute, after which the whole thing repeats - ).

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Old 05-02-2009, 06:31 AM   #2
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Hi,
Look under Disk Management to "see" if you have a Recovery Partition
You may not have one. In that case you will need your Dell XP CD

To use the PC restore:
Quote:
Using Dell™ PC Restore by Symantec
NOTE: Dell PC Restore is not available in all countries.
Use Dell PC Restore by Symantec only as the last method to restore your operating system. PC
Restore restores your hard drive to the operating state it was in when you purchased the computer.
Any programs or files added since you received your computer—including data files—are
permanently deleted from the hard drive. Data files include documents, spreadsheets, e-mail
messages, digital photos, music files, and so on. If possible, back up all data before using PC
Restore.
NOTICE: Using PC Restore permanently deletes all data on the hard drive and removes any applications
or drivers installed after you received your computer. If possible, back up the data before using PC
Restore.
To use PC Restore:
1 Turn on the computer and watch the keyboard status lights.
2 Immediately upon seeing the lights flash, press <Ctrl><F11>.
If you do not press <Ctrl><F11> in time, let the computer finish restarting, and then
restart the computer again.
NOTICE: If you do not want to proceed with PC Restore, click Reboot in the following step.
3 On the next screen that appears, click Restore.
4 On the next screen, click Confirm.
The restore process takes approximately 6–10 minutes to complete.

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Old 05-02-2009, 06:46 AM   #3
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Thanks for prompt reply.

I went to Disk Management - that's what it shows


But how can I tell if any of these partitions is the recovery one?

Could it be this "unknown partition"?
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:07 AM   #4
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Hi,
It appears you may have one.
Have you backed up the data you need.
If so remove the drive you have backed up. This way we will not loose your info.

With the damaged drive connected only reboot the PC
Constantly tap the CTRL-F11 key upon boot up
See if PC Recovery will start.

Bill
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:14 AM   #5
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I haven't disconnected the other HDD yet (I'd have to ask a friend to come over and do it for me, since I'm a newbie), but as I wrote, I already tried this Ctrl+F11 shortcut (as I knew it would still ask me for confirmation before proceeding) - and it didn't do anything!
So - I think - what's the point of disconnecting the disk if it still won't work...

Any ideas why Ctrl-F11 doesn't do the trick? What can I possibly be doing wrong? I'm simply tapping it when the Dell logo appears on the black screen.

Is it possible that having two Windows systems installed (the corrupted one on one disk - the one I currently use, on the disk I'd disconnect) - somehow disables this function? Nothing else comes to my mind
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:53 AM   #6
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I think you are booting up the newer drive first, as it is set as Disc 0

Have you set the older drive to boot first in the BIOS?

Bill
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Old 05-02-2009, 08:30 AM   #7
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Aah. Yes you're right. I'm booting from E: right now. So that's the reason why System Restore won't pop up, isn't it?

But I did not change the settings in BIOS - what I did is I simply booted the system up from Windows installation CD, and installed this Windows on E:

Now whenever the computer boots up, it asks me which copy of Windows I want to run - E: (new) or C: (original, broken); in that very order.
Obviously I choose the former, since the latter will not start up.

Does it mean that Windows installer has automatically reset the BIOS?

So what I should do - step by step - to launch System Restore is:

1. back everything up, turn the PC off, disconnect the second disc

2. turn the PC on, go to BIOS and set the first disk - the only one that will have left in the machine - as the one to boot from

3. reboot the computer and tap Ctrl+F11?

- do I get it right? Have I missed something?
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:56 AM   #8
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The EISA Configuration is a hidden drive usually to do with the recovery system.
The Unknown Partition is probably part of that.
You should not change any data there.
If you want to see what is on it, you will need to change the “Drive Type” from 12 to 0B or 07 with PartEdit (Free). Google it!!
For the Restore to work, the system BIOS must be set to “D2D” enabled.
That’s the Disk to Disk feature.
I doubt it will work if you are booting from a different Drive.
Try doing the Control+F11 while trying to boot from C: drive.
I think you may need to set C: as active.
This recovery system seems to have some special instructions in the Master Boot Record or somewhere like that and the Partitions need to be in their original order.
I have had problems with this when trying to Backup such a Drive.
Not sure if that will help.
My Acer uses Alt+F10.
Joe
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Old 05-22-2009, 05:01 PM   #9
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Hello again

There's been some delay with the task; holidays, afterwards I'd kept on using that "temporary" copy of Windows for convenience.

But now I have to grab the bull by the horns and finally resolve the issue = restore the system.

I've tried to accomplish that today but it doesn't seem to work. As you said, I have to boot the computer from the original (primary) Dell HDD, where the utility partition is located - and then Ctrl+F11 should work fine.

The trouble is, I can't really figure out how to do that...

When I'm booting up (and the DELL logo appears on a black screen), I am given two options: F2 for BIOS setup, F12 for booting options.

So I tap F12 and I'm given the choice between:
Quote:
Onboard SATA hard drive
and
Quote:
Onboard IDE hard drive
When I choose IDE, I get a message
Quote:
Selected boot device not available
When I choose SATA, everything goes just as usual - Ctrl+F11 doesn't get any response, and I'm followed to the screen when I get to choose between two copies of Windows (the corrupted one - or the temporary one, on my second HDD).

I went to BIOS as well and these are my hard disks:

Quote:
SATA-0 - the original one (with the recovery partition)
SATA-2 - off
PATA-0 - the second HDD, where I installed my temporary Windows and backed up my files
PATA-1 - my DVD drive
Since the Dell HDD is SATA, this would indicate that my computer is booting from that very drive anyway (?)

The boot sequence in BIOS looks as follows:
Quote:
1. Onboard or USB floppy drive (not present)
2. Onboard SATA hard drive
3. Onboard IDE hard drive (this was originally switched off, I turned it on but to no effect)
4. Onboard or USB CD-ROM drive
5. USB device (not present)
What am I supposed to do then? Do I have to physically disconnect the second HDD for the procedure to become possible?

By the way; I've browsed the entire BIOS and there is no "D2D" or "Disk to Disk" option in sight...?

I'd appreciate any advice. Please just say if you need any other information apart from the one I've supplied above.
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:47 PM   #10
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The 39 MB FAT (EISA) partition on Disk 1 contains the Dell Diagnostics
The 3.15 GB FAT32 (Unknown) is the Recovery partition
You are booting with the C: drive on Disk 1 (MS calls this the System Volume)
You are running Windows on drive E (MS calls this the Boot partition).
I'd guess one of two things.

1. The BIOS is enumerating the IDE drive first (Disk 0). Dell PC Restore may not like being seen as Disk 1 instead of 0. If that's the case, disconnecting the IDE drive will allow it to work.

2. Doing the parallel install overwrote the special Dell MBR needed to detect the CTRL+F11 keypress. Or, if you've ever run the FIXMBR command or if you used a 3rd party tool to create the F: partition, it may have overwritten the MBR as well.

This website has a lot of good information, and some tools that may be able to repair that in the Troubleshooting section.
Inside the Dell PC Restore Partition

HTH

Jerry

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