Questions about restoring M4600

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Questions about restoring M4600

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It looks like I have no choice but to restore the OS to try and cure the BSOD problem on my M4600.

I read the Dell reimage guide and I have some questions.

The guide doesn't say much about the installation of the OS (in my case, Windows 7). Should I install all Windows 7 updates before installing any Dell drivers?

The network drivers are installed fairly far along in the process. Is the guide assuming the drivers have already been downloaded onto a USB stick or will the LAN work using a Windows driver?

The Dell Drivers and Downloads website has two file formats. One is an "Update Package" and the other is a compressed zip. The latter seems to be the default. Why are there two formats? Is one preferable over the other?

Any sage advice from someone who has restored an M4600?

All Replies
  • One more question that I forget to include. Where do I get the Dell Webcam Central software? It's not available in "My Dell Downloads".

  • Try restoring your system to the original factory setup.  If you can do this, then you will just have to update Windows and virus protection.

     

    PC Restore

    Click Here for PC Restore
    Available on many Dell Dimension and Inspiron computers, Dell PC Restore by Symantec is a hidden partition on your hard drive that contains an exact copy of your computer's original factory software. With PC Restore, you can restore your computer to the original state it was shipped in to you from Dell and in a fraction of the time a manual reinstallation would require.

  • Dell told me I had to wipe system and start from scratch. I tried to get them to send me a hard drive with a factory image, but for some reason, they are not allowed to send an imaged hard drive to Canada (considering that the new system came with an imaged hard drive, I'd love to hear the justification for not being able to send just a hard drive), so the best they will do is send a new blank hard drive so at least the existing image will be intact until I'm ready to move over the new image.

  • If the factory image on the disk drive that is in your system now is still intact, you could run PC Restore and put back to the original state.  This would save you the trouble of having to install the entire operating system and drivers.

    I would give it a try first.

  • Actually, Canadian Law prevents Dell from shipping software across the border that wasn't purchased with a WHOLE computer :) From what I understand, they can't even send you the disc :)  What reason did they give you that you couldn't use the factory image?  

    --
    Terry W.

    “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” - Edgar Allan Poe

  • That's not what they told me, but regarding the factory image, this is the first I've heard there was a factory image. Dell tech support told me I had to reload the system from scratch. I just took a look at the drive with disk management and there are two other partitions, OEM Partition (39 MB, 39 MB free) and Recovery (15.76 GB, 7.71 GB free). I haven't recovered a Dell laptop for a long time. Can I use it to get the system back to the factory original configuration? If so, I wonder why Dell tech support would not told me this.

  • So before we get to excited, can you get into windows or more importantly the advanced boot menu?  (Press F8 at the end of the initial Dell boot screen before it shows the Windows loading menu)  If you can get to the advanced boot menu then select the repair my computer option, there should be the Dell Backup and Recovery Manager option and restore my computer to the factory image (or some such).  Warning: Restoring to factory image will remove your data. :)

    --
    Terry W.

    “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” - Edgar Allan Poe

  • F8 doesn't do anything. F2 goes into bios setup. F12 goes into boot options, including diagnostics. I didn't see any restore options. Since there is a restore partition, surely it must be there for a reason?

  • I can't explain why the Dell tech didn't tell you about this.  It has been around for a while now.  Using PC Restore was designed to put your system back to the original configuration. The Recovery partition that you found contains the image file to return the system back to the factory original configuration.  It's definately a lot easier than reinstalling Windows from scratch.

    F8 upon boot up is a Windows thing so it should work no matter what brand of notebook/computer you are using.  Try tapping the F8 key as soon as the computer starts to boot up.

    As to how to run PC Restore, I gave the link above.  Before you perform the PC Restore, make sure you back up all of your files.  I'll give you the link here again.

     

    PC Restore

    Click Here for PC Restore
    Available on many Dell Dimension and Inspiron computers, Dell PC Restore by Symantec is a hidden partition on your hard drive that contains an exact copy of your computer's original factory software. With PC Restore, you can restore your computer to the original state it was shipped in to you from Dell and in a fraction of the time a manual reinstallation would require.

     

  • I checked F8 and F12 again and neither invoke restoration. I checked F12 on another M4600 in the office and it was the same as mine.

    Would someone with an M4600 please confirm what F key invokes restoration at boot? F8 does nothing on my computer. F2 invokes bios setup and F12 invokes boot sequence, but I can't find anything to invoke restoration.

  • Okay so this isn't the recommended way to get to this because the F8 key as the Dell loading screen is going off but before the Windows loading screen is the proper key command (even if not displayed).. but if you can't get to the boot menu any other way, you can try forcing the system to shutdown as it's loading windows (by pressing and holding the power button until the system shuts down) and it should get you to the option to repair your computer and eventualy to the recovery environment that would let you restore to a factory image (if it's still there)  The recovery partition is there for any Windows 7 installation, so I wouldn't read too much about it being there :)  You can try the Dell Backup and Recovery manager from within windows too, I suppose.  To find directions, click here and look in section 5.  It gives detailed directions.  The menu we're trying to get you into by the way is very hard to get into sometimes.  Another way you can try is by hitting F12, selecting the hard drive and IMMEDIATELY start hitting the F8 key (like hit enter then tap F8 a few times right after with another finger that was already on the key)..

     

    --
    Terry W.

    “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” - Edgar Allan Poe

  • Thanks for the reply. I was on the Dell website last night and stumbled on the Dellâ„¢ Backup and Recovery Manager. It looks like that's the method for restoring to the factory image. I wonder why they are keeping it a secret?!? I started the application and it does appear that the factory image is available to restore from.

    I can't get the F8 key to work. If you've seen it work on an M4600, I'll stand corrected, but it does not seem to anything on the M4600.

  • I tried to use DBRM to restore the computer. It could see the factory image, but it would not restore it to the C partition. I tried several times, but it simply hung, doing nothing after asking for confirmation. This is strange because I could see the factory image inside the restore partition.

    Before attempting to restore ot the factory image, I used DBRM to generate factory media, which it did (3 DVDs). Since I could not restore from the factory image using DBRM, I tried using the media generated by DBRM, which also did not work.

    I ended up cloning the original hard drive onto a slightly newer model of the original hard drive and installing the OS manually. Since the restore partition serves no purposes if you can't restore from it and since there is no obvious reason for the OEM partition, I deleted both of them, repartitioned the hard drive from scratch and installed the OS using the default Windows partition configuration. It took quite a while to install all of the drivers, but the system is working well.

    I give Dell a big FAIL for DBRM.

    I also give Dell a big FAIL for their re-imaging guide, which is a very poorly written, vague and inaccurate document. It attempts to cover too many generations of too many products, and as a result, it is almost useless. It refers to names that are not used in the current downloads. In a number of cases, its suggestions for installing drivers do not work because the drivers have prerequisites that are not installed (e.g., .net). I found a thread on notebookreview.com which was more helpful than the Dell re-imaging guide (although it was for an M6600 with an nVidia graphics option which installs differently than the ATI graphics option).

    I also give Dell a big FAIL for their drivers and downloads website. This website allows you to find downloads for your particular system tag and for ALL system tags, but it omits the one thing that would actually be useful, which is to find all of the downloads which are useful for your system tag. It's not obvious which of the downloads for ALL system tags are applicable for your system tag and it recommended the Intel GMA HD driver which is for a system with the nVidia graphics option, not the ATI graphics option. The other big problem with this website is that for some reason, it does not filter downloads correctly for the correct operating system so it's possible to accidently download a driver for the wrong operating system.

    I took a look at Dell Client System Update. While in theory, this should be a very useful tool (Lenovo has has had this for years), it's very dangerous. For my system, it recommends a driver for a different ATI graphics option and it also recommends a touchpad driver that is several versions behind current. If Dell is going to offer a tool lilke DCSU, it should work properly, otherwise it could potentially mess up a system, in the worst case requiring re-imaging to repair the damage.

  • Not sure if anybody is still following this thread, but I've hit the same road block...

    The link provided earlier is complete garbage; you can hit F8 until the sky turns purple, it will NEVER provide any solution for restoring the Dell factory image.  (Yes, the partition is still on my M4600, never been touched.)  If you happen to hit F8 at exactly the right time, you will get the "Advanced Boot Options" screen to appear.  If not you can try hitting any of F1 or F3 thru F7 and get the Windows Boot Manager, which in turn will give you the option to hit F8 and get in that way.  However, in either case, this will only list the standard Windows 7 boot options ("Safe Mode", "Last Known Good", etc.), with "Repair Your Computer" at the top of the list.  That option will take you to the WINDOWS repair utilities, not any Dell product.  There is an option in there to restore from an image, however it is only for Windows Backup generated images, and it will not find the image on the restore partition.  (Particularly bothersome, as it is a .WIM file and theoretically should work.)  Nor is there any option to tell it where to look, except over the network (via the Advanced button).

    So, as has already been asked repeatedly in this thread, how does one access the DELL factory restore options?

    As for restoring via DBRM...

    I've not tried this option, but I suspect the reason that it can't apply the image to C: is because DBRM is installed/running on that partition.

  • And one more thing, which should help any new people reading this...

    DBRM did not come pre-installed on my M4600, nor is it easy to find on the support site.  I am having to download it via a link provided in another thread (www.dell.com/.../DriverFileFormats).

    And, now that I have it installed, I come to find that the option to create a recovery DVD has the button to select "Factory image and recovery tools" disabled (greyed out).  So, thank you SO MUCH to Dell for making the process that would have saved me at least 2 hours take 5 hours only to find that it is a complete waste of time.