Jump to content


Register a free account to unlock additional features at BleepingComputer.com
Welcome to BleepingComputer, a free community where people like yourself come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers. Using the site is easy and fun. As a guest, you can browse and view the various discussions in the forums, but can not create a new topic or reply to an existing one unless you are logged in. Other benefits of registering an account are subscribing to topics and forums, creating a blog, and having no ads shown anywhere on the site.

Click here to Register a free account now! or read our Welcome Guide to learn how to use this site.


Format Problems

  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 carnivalofsorts


  • Members
  • 100 posts
  • Local time:11:04 PM

Posted 23 October 2006 - 06:29 AM

Hi Guys,

There is probably a very simple answer to what im doing wrong here.
Quick story .....

I'm offering computer support to a friend over seas who is not too computer savvy.
He has a Dell laprop which recently wouldnt boot up.
He got the messages offering to boot into last known good configuration, safe mode, or boot as normal.
He found that none of these worked, and each time brought him back to the same option.
He contacted his computer manufacturer, who advised without much investigation that a re-install of windows xp would be necessary. Seemed to me that it was a bit of a cop-out but however ....
The re-install didnt work, nor did the repair installation option.
Having already lost pretty much everything on the hard dirve already, i thought the best way would be to format the hard disc and do a fresh install.
I got him to create a DOS boot disc, with the intention of using the fdisk option to wipe any data and partitions.
I have done this several times myself before, but its been a while.

When the system boots from the DOS disk, i got him to try " format c: /s " but it said that the specified drive was invalid.
As with every other letter i tried ( out of sheer frustration ) with the exception of A and B both of which seem linked to the floppy disk drive.

The laptop can be dconfigured to boot from floppy, CD, or USB.

It will not boot from the hard disc at present.

Can someone please advise whats the best plan of action here to completely format the hard disc so that we can do a fresh install of windows xp ??
I thought booting to a DOS prompt would be the most straight forward way of doing a complete format and going from there - seems it wasn't so straight forward after all.

Many thanks in advance,

If there really was a god, then why is my ass the perfect height for kicking ???

BC AdBot (Login to Remove)


#2 Enthusiast


  • Members
  • 5,898 posts
  • Location:Florida, USA
  • Local time:10:04 PM

Posted 23 October 2006 - 06:39 AM

If this is for Windows XP the best choice may be to download and use the Windows Setup Boot Disks appropriate to the service pacs included on the original installation or installation disk.

In other words, if the Windows installation cd was SVC Pac 1, get the disks for SVC Pac 1, etc.

How to obtain Windows XP Setup boot disks

Since he has a dell, he may have other options to reinstall the op system that came installed on the computer.

If he doesn't have the original owners manual look up the model at support dell.

He may have this:
Dell System Symantec Restore – How to access
1. Power the computer on.
2. When the Dell screen appears press and hold the <Ctrl> key on the keyboard, press the <F11> key, then release them both at the same time.
The Dell PC Restore by Symantec window appears.

Or - the following may help:
How to do a Dell restore
For Dell computers
Dell PC Restore by Symantec is available on Dimension and Inspiron systems that shipped on or after 7/16/2004 in the Americas and 8/30/2004 in Europe.

Use the Dell Wizard for instructions about how to restore your operating system:

or this may help:
How do I obtain a Windows CD for my Dell computer?
How Do I Create a CD Containing My Operating System with the Dell™ OS Recovery Utility?

1. Run the Dell™ OS Recovery Utility
The Dell OS Recovery Utility allows the creation of ONE operating system CD. This means that you can make one Windows® CD for backup purposes.

NOTE: If you have not created your backup CD you should take the time to create the CD and store it in a safe place now. If you wait until you may need it, it will be too late!

You will need a blank CD-R disc and a CD-R/W or DVD-R/W drive installed on your Dell computer to complete the steps detailed in the instructions at the link below.
Instructions for making the Windows XP CD can be found here:

Where can I get the Windows CD and other Dell CDs?

Question - What if the Dell Operating System Recovery Utility fails or wasn't installed by Dell?
Answer -
Email or Chat with Dell. Explain your situation and the Dell representative should issue you the Windows CD.

If he had media center:
Question - Where can I get the DMX CD?
Answer - Email or Chat with Dell. Explain your situation and the Dell representative will issue whatever software CDs (Dell Media Experience, Power DVD, Sonic MyDVD, etc.) you might need.

* Chat with USA Hardware Support on the support site
Click "Chat With Hardware Support"

* or Email USA Hardware Support

* or call toll free - USA Hardware Support 1-800-624-9896

Edited by Enthusiast, 23 October 2006 - 07:11 AM.

#3 carnivalofsorts

  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 100 posts
  • Local time:11:04 PM

Posted 23 October 2006 - 07:10 AM

Thanks for the quick reply.

The XP boot disks were indeed my first shot at installing.

This failed .... it boots from the floppy discs, and gives the option to do a fresh install, or repair an existing installation.
It then shows 3 partitions on the hard disc, one about 8mb in size, another 20mb or so, and then a third of over 2000mb.

I was reading some other forums, and they suggested that there are various factors affecting the format and reinstalltion on Dell machines ... one of which is the CD spin speed as it reaches around 95% of the format process ??

As i am not carrying this out myself, i am relying on my friend to accurately describe what is happening as he carries out each of these steps.

If i boot from these discs, and cannot do a fresh installation, nor repair the existing one ....what should be my next course of action ??
If there really was a god, then why is my ass the perfect height for kicking ???

#4 Enthusiast


  • Members
  • 5,898 posts
  • Location:Florida, USA
  • Local time:10:04 PM

Posted 23 October 2006 - 07:18 AM

I would have him look to see if the last option on my last post is applicable to him, and if it is, to try to make the Windows install cd, and if he cannot, get one from Dell.

There is an additional problem -
Get him to look at the bios post and see if his hard drive is being discovered as the post first begins. If it isn't - he may have a bad hard drive or controller.

#5 usasma


    Still visually handicapped (avatar is memory developed by my Dad

  • BSOD Kernel Dump Expert
  • 25,091 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Southeastern CT, USA
  • Local time:11:04 PM

Posted 23 October 2006 - 07:23 AM

If the Dell recovery CD won't do it's job, there's not much else that you can do software-wise. Then it becomes (most likely) a hardware issue.

Are you familiar with BartPE and the assorted plugins for system testing? Could you coach him through using that to check his hardware?
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#6 mihangel


  • Members
  • 25 posts
  • Location:South Wales
  • Local time:06:04 AM

Posted 23 October 2006 - 12:05 PM

I had a similar problem recently with that re-booting loop, all the options led me back to the re-booting choices page. The only thing that worked for me was a clean install of windows xp home, losing everything on the hard drive.( May have been another way but i'm no techie)
Some research on google led me to a forum where it was said a number of postees had this problem after a windows automatic update, now just before i had this problem, auto update was downloading updates for four consecutive days which i thought was unusual but went with it anyway, a couple of days later i had trouble booting up the PC.
Not recommending anything here, just wanted to share a similar experience.

Regards Mihangel

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users