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Reformating Dell Laptop


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15 replies to this topic

#1 Oijl

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 09:06 PM

Hello all,

What I want to do:
To reformat a Dell laptop.

I have a Dell laptop (Insperon, I believe) that I want to reformat. I want it back at factory settings. This thing is so messed up with viruses that it would intimidate the Black Plague. I firmly believe that the only way to deal with this computer is to set it back to square one - so, I do not want to restore it to a previous state. I have everything valuable off of it. I am aware that I'll have to reinstall an operating system.

What I've tried:
ctrl+f11
control panel>disk management>format
using run>"cmd" and typing in the commands (also running safe mode with command prompt)

What kind of help I'm looking for:
A way to reformat a Dell laptop that actually works.

I've followed several how-to's on the web, and have looked at, say, a dozen sites on this subject. Nothing I have tried, from all those sites, has functioned like the site claimed it would. My laptop is stubbornly independent, and will not do what apparently it is supposed to do.

So when I try ctrl+f11, a blank screen comes up that says "Cannot restore."

When I try to do it through the disk management window that I get to through the control panel, I right click on the drive (c:) I want to reformat, and I see the 'format' option that I'm supposed to click, but it is grayed and I cannot select it. I have tried this while logged in as an administrator.

When I try to use the command prompt to reformat, following the command lines from multiple websites, I am told that... well, that it can't. That 'format' isn't a good command, or something. I think it was that I was trying to format c: while in c:, and you can't format the drive you're in.


I hope this is enough information. I will gladly provide more if you tell me specifically what you think you would need to know.
If there's a way to do away with everything (everything, not most things, since this computer hardly has anything on it BUT viruses) except the operating system (XP, of course, since that's this subforum), then I might be interested in that. But preferably I'll eventually reformat this, set it back to how it was when it was hot off the line.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to look at this, and thanks a lot to those who will take the time to respond!

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#2 dc3

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 09:58 PM

What is the make and model of this computer?

Do you have or have access to a retail copy of Windows XP, this will need to be the same version that you have installed, eg Home or Pro.

Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#3 Allan

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 07:04 AM

You cannot format the system partition from within the OS. Insert an XP CD in the cd drive, make sure that drive is the first device in the bios boot order, reboot. The installation routine will begin. Early on you'll be given the option to format before installing. The disk you insert DOES NOT have to be the same version as is installed. You can use ANY OS disk (XP home or pro, Vista, etc).

#4 dc3

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 10:45 AM

The disk you insert DOES NOT have to be the same version as is installed. You can use ANY OS disk (XP home or pro, Vista, etc).


If you are suggesting that any of these can be used to reformat the hdd then you are right. But if they are going to reinstall XP they will need to use the same version to make the installation. If they don't there could be a problem with getting it activated later.

Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#5 Oijl

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 01:51 PM

First of all, thanks for your responses.

What I'm hearing is that I need an OS cd to even reformat. See, reinstalling an OS isn't my objective. Is there NO WAY to reformat without having an OS cd?


What make and model? I saw that information on some screen I brought up when I was following how-to-reformat instructions from some site, but I couldn't find my way back to that screen. So, if knowing the make and model would help you help me, then could you tell me how to find out the make and model?

#6 Allan

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 01:56 PM

There are other options, but if you don't mind me asking, what do you intend to do after you format?

#7 Eyesee

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 02:16 PM

We know that the make is a Dell.
The model number is usually on a sticker on the underside of the system.

"See, reinstalling an OS isn't my objective"
Im confused and I think Allan is too. Post #1 says you want to do exacty that.
You cannot format a drive that is in use from inside Windows.
When you format a drive you basically erase it.
What do you intend to do with the system then if you dont reinstall the OS?

Might be that the recovery partition has been deleted and thats why you get that error when trying to run it.
You might consider ordering a set of recovery cd's from Dell but they will need the model number to do so.
In the beginning there was the command line.

#8 Oijl

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 03:35 PM

Ah, I see it. Inspiron 8600.

Okay, maybe I misunderstand the meaning of the term 'reformat.' I thought that meant basically, as Eyesee said, to erase the drive. Yes, in order for the laptop to be of much use to someone it would have to have an OS installed, but unless installing an OS absolutely has to be paired with reformatting - unless you absolutely have to install and OS in order to reformat - then installing an OS isn't really something I am concerned about.

[Yes, eventually, I do plan on putting something on there. I just don't know right now what, and I'm the sort of person who would get peace of mind from having one step completed, and from just wiping this computer clean, clearing out the junk on it so that it just isn't there anymore.]

So, yes, I think Eyesee is right, I think the recovery partition has been deleted. And thanks for the suggestion of ordering recovery cd's from Dell; that's something I'll keep in mind, and mind just end up doing in the end, since I theoretically would know how to do this if I had those cd's.

But first, what other options did you have in mind, Allen?

#9 Allan

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 03:43 PM

You understand that if you format the drive you will have a completely blank hard drive and the system will be completely useless until you install an OS?

If you have a floppy drive you can create a Win98 boot floppy and use fdisk to format the drive. But again, at some point you will need to install an operating system. I have a feeling you really don't understand what happens when you format a hard drive. You MUST have an OS cd at some point, and since that's the case you should obtain one now and use it to format during the install routine. Alternatively you can contact Dell and ask them if they can provide a restore cd.

#10 Eyesee

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:25 PM

Checking the Dell site, I am not finding an option to order restoration cd's for that model. That does not mean that they are no longer available. I just means that you may have to call them.
One advantage to restoration cd's is that it will recreate your recovery partition for you and install all software shipped with the system.

Our folks here are very proficient at cleaning viruses and malware.
You might want to at least have them take a look at the system for you by posting in the Am I Infected forum.
Trust me, they are the best there is!
Personally I hate to format and do so only as a last resort.
In the beginning there was the command line.

#11 dc3

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:34 PM

Just to add to eyesee's post, another advantage to purchasing their installation disks is that you will get a CD which will have all of the drivers for your computer. That's a major pain if you have to download and install these on line. I also concur that a reformat and reinstall of the operating system is a last ditch effort.

I will go one step further and suggest that you follow the instructions in This Guide starting at Step 6.

Once the proper logs are created, then make a NEW TOPIC and post it HERE Please include a description of your computer issues and what you have done to try to resolve them.

If you can produce at least some of the logs, then please create the new topic and explain what happens when you try to create the log(s) that you couldn't get. If you cannot produce any of the logs, then still post the topic and explain that you followed the Prep. Guide, were unable to create the logs, and describe what happens when you try to create the logs.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to this thread and ask.

Edited by dc3, 10 May 2011 - 05:38 PM.

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#12 Eyesee

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:49 PM

Keep us posted too.
I want to see how this gets resolved one way or another.
In the beginning there was the command line.

#13 Allan

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 05:52 PM

I want to see what he intends to do with a system with no OS.

#14 ThunderZ

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 06:06 PM

Perhaps a clarification in terminology would be helpful.

The way I always used the term reformat = the erasing of all content on the hard drive. Either by wiping to zero`s, then to NTFS, then (re)installing the OS.
Of course just wiping to NTFS is usually sufficient.

Formatting is just the act of erasing the drive. Usually to NTFS, or FAT32. This usually pertains to new drives when purchased either as additional storage or as a new primary drive.

If the OP simply wish`s to erase the content of the drive but have it in a state to at some point accept an OS then he would be formatting it.
Or. If all he wish`s to do at this point is wipe the contents, leaving the drive unformatted, then there are several good free tools available to do so.

Either way he does need to be aware an OS disk will be needed at some point to restore the PC to a useful state.

#15 dc3

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 06:09 PM

Have you reformatted the hdd?

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