Dell system restore and Vista, Ctrl+F11 no longer works for factory restore.

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Dell system restore and Vista, Ctrl+F11 no longer works for factory restore.

  • Dell system restore has been replaced yet once again.  Since the release of Vista, Dell is just using Vista’s restore.  The Ctrl+F11 at start up no longer functions.  In fact, it is no longer included on a Dell PC with Vista installed.  My new Dimension E521 just arrived with Vista Business x32 preloaded.  I did receive the Dell Vista Business reinstallation DVD and a Dell Driver/Application cd with the system, thank you Dell.  I’m not sure if they will stop sending the discs as Vista sales increase.

    Anyway, my PC arrived with three partitions on the hard drive.  The first is the Dell hidden utility partition, the second is the OS partition for Vista, and lastly a partition called Recovery.  I haven’t attempted to do a system recovery yet.  I just started to play with the PC to see if Dell restore was still there, Ctrl+F11.  Which it’s not as mentioned earlier.

    First thing I am doing is using Acronis True Image to make an image of the entire hard drive on an external hard drive in case I need to go back if I mess things up.  Then I did some searching at Dell support to see if they had any documentation on how to restore to factory condition if using Vista.  Surprisingly they did, unlike the old instructions for the Dell restore that were very hard to find at first.  Here’s the link….

     

    http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/dsn/en/document?c=us&cs=19&docid=26394F48E8802900E040A68F5B28291F&journalid=CEAF8E2FB57E11DBAD9D912FD62633C1&l=en&s=dhs

     

    And a quick rundown of the instructions…

    Restore Windows Vista™ to the factory backup.

    To restore Windows Vista™ to the factory backup, perform the following steps:

    1. Start the computer.

    2. Tap the <F8> key on the keyboard during the startup process until you see the Windows

    Advanced Options menu on the screen.

    3. Press the <Down Arrow> key to select Repair Your Computer and press the <Enter> key.

    The System Recovery Options window appears.

    4. Select your language and click Next.

    5. Log in as a user with administrative rights and click OK.

    6. Click Dell Factory Image Restore.

    The Dell Factory Image Restore window appears.

    7. Click Next.

    8. Check Yes, reformat hard drive and restore system software to factory condition.

    9. Click Next.

    The factory software image is now written to your hard drive.

    10. Click Finish to restart the computer.

    NOTICE: Restoring Windows to the factory default configuration deletes all data on the

    C: drive. You must back up your data before performing this step or your data

    will be lost.

    NOTE: If the Windows Advanced Options menu does not appear, restart the system

    and try again.

     

     

    The only major drawback I see for now is that the recovery partition is not secure in any manner.  It just shows up in My Computer as a normal drive.  This can be easily damaged or files can be accidentally erased.  I am doing some more reading on Vista restore and will post back with hopefully a better solution. 

     

    Besides the Vista restore feature, I am going to use Acronis True Image Home v10 to create a DVD back up of the primary OS partition and also a secure zone to store the image file directly on the hard drive for later restorations.  If Vista’s restore is anything like the old XP restore, then I am just going to do a clean install of Vista on the OS partition and use the recovery partition for my documents.  I will then just image the OS partition and use that clean image to restore if need be in the future.  I will include the drivers and my standard applications in the image file.  Since all of my documents are on the third partition, I can just restore the OS partition and I would be back in business without overwriting my documents…

    ------------------

    UPDATE

    Well it seems that Dell does have some sort of system restore, but its tied into the Vista restore.  Further investigation showed a Dell image file, "factory.wim", on the recovery partition.  The image file in WIM format is part of the new Vista Imaging software, ImageX.  By hitting F8 on boot up, you get the normall Vista revcovery options with an added option at the bottom for Dell Factory restore.  At this point, I am not sure if this is based in the BIOS or on the Dell utility partition.  It could also be part of the MBR?  Not sure.  I will need some more time to play around with it.  There is a Tools folder on the recovery partition that starts the Dell recovery program, this opens even in Vista.  I'm just not sure how it gets there from booting and hitting F8.

    Besides that, I like the new Vista interface, but be WARNED, it is a resource hog.  I have spent the last few hours trying to uninstall the added Dell software that is useless in order to clean up the original install.  Dell is selling the PC with 512mb of memory and believe me, that is not enough.  My PC actually froze up at one point and I had to do a hard boot to get it running again.  The minimum memory should be 1gig and I would recomend at least 2gig to run smoothly.  So if you plan on upgrading your current system to Vista, better get more RAM or stick with XP.  If you are buying a new system from Dell, compare the cost of base memory and the cost of upgrading thru Dell and buying from someone else.  Dell has lowered thier prices on memory when configuring a new system, but it still is not the cheapest.  More updates to come...

     



    Message Edited by dscrap on 02-05-2007 10:24 PM
  • You refer to "the Dell Vista Business reinstallation DVD" in your post.
     
    Is this simply the Microsoft OEM Vista Business Edition, full version, the same as sold to system builders at retail (as for example at newegg.com)?
     
    If not, what precisely is it?
     


    Message Edited by mxytplk on 02-07-2007 02:39 PM


  • mxytplk wrote:
    You refer to "the Dell Vista Business reinstallation DVD" in your post.
     
    Is this simply the Microsoft OEM Vista Business Edition, full version, the same as sold to system builders at retail (as for example at newegg.com)?
     
    If not, what precisely is it?
     


    Message Edited by mxytplk on 02-07-2007 02:39 PM

    It is a Dell branded OEM copy of Vista Business.  It includes just Vista Business and not the other Vista's like the retail DVD.  It also has Dell OEM files on it and comes with a separate DVD for upgrading to different versions of Vista via Windows Anytime Upgrade.  I’m not sure if they will continue to give the Windows Anytime Upgrade DVD since it is actually available online.  They probably have x amount of copies to give out from Microsoft since Microsoft wants people to upgrade.?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

     

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/windowsanytimeupgrade/overview.mspx

     

    I messed around with the system for several hours.  I like Vista, but the system was really underpowered with only 512mb of memory and onboard video.  I haven't really figured out the Dell restore aspect yet.  I am most likely going to return the system since it is so slow. 

     

    I called and talked to a tech at Dell about the system being really slow and he said that it meets the minimum requirements for Vista.  I told him that it only met the minimum for Vista Basic and that all other versions require a minimum of 1 GB of memory and a dedicated 128mb video card, per the Microsoft Vista site.  He offered to sell me the upgrades.  No thanks, I'll wait until more people complain about new systems being really slow and wait until Dell offers a system that can actually run the software they sell it with.  I can't believe they even offer such a base configuration with Vista.  It literally was like running XP Pro with 128mb of memory and an 8mb video card.  That’s how slow it was, no exaggeration...  Dell will quickly get a bad rep of selling slow systems if they don’t offer better configurations with Vista.  People that know nothing about computers will buy a cheap Dell and then complain it is slow not realizing that the system would perform 1000x better with a few upgrades.  I see it all the time…



  • dscrap wrote:

     People that know nothing about computers will buy a cheap Dell and then complain it is slow not realizing that the system would perform 1000x better with a few upgrades.  I see it all the time…


    Yet you still went ahead and bought it with 512MB of RAM???
     
    Dave
  • dscrap,
     
    Thanks greatly for the additional details on the content of the Dell Vista Business reinstallation DVD.  I am primarily concerned with ensuring that I can immediately perform a "clean" installation of the OS, in particular free of any/all unnecessary garbage applications that may have been pre-loaded by Dell.  (Not to single out Dell here - the other manufacturers do it, and even worse.) 
     
    Consequently, I would appreciate it if you could expand on your comment, "It also has Dell OEM files on it...".  
     
    What kind of files are these?  Are they simply present on the DVD for optional later installation, or are they installed without your control during installation of the OS?  Can they be uninstalled? 
     
    Any information that you can provide in this regard would be extremely helpful. 


  • mxytplk wrote:
    dscrap,
     
    Thanks greatly for the additional details on the content of the Dell Vista Business reinstallation DVD.  I am primarily concerned with ensuring that I can immediately perform a "clean" installation of the OS, in particular free of any/all unnecessary garbage applications that may have been pre-loaded by Dell.  (Not to single out Dell here - the other manufacturers do it, and even worse.) 
     
    Consequently, I would appreciate it if you could expand on your comment, "It also has Dell OEM files on it...".  
     
    What kind of files are these?  Are they simply present on the DVD for optional later installation, or are they installed without your control during installation of the OS?  Can they be uninstalled? 
     
    Any information that you can provide in this regard would be extremely helpful. 


    It is a Dell OEM DVD.  There are Dell OEM files, mainly badging.  If you install it normally, then the OEM files have no effect.  They are there for custom installs using the Vista OPK for IT professionals...  There is no other Dell programs on the DVD that I saw besides the badging.  The DVD works the same as any other Vista OEM disc would.  The DVD is not the hologram one, but it is branded by Dell.  The DVD says Dell  "Reinstallation DVD" on it and it is brown in color.  The purpose of the DVD is to reinstall Vista in case the hard drive fails or if you want to do a clean install.  Understand?  Let me know if you have more questions.

     

    As for Dave's comment...

     

    I purchased the base system with 512mb knowing that I had 2gb of memory to add when I received it.  The point I was trying to make is that Dell should not be selling pc configurations that do not meet the minimum requirements for the software installed.  I unboxed the system and started it up, as is, to see how it ran.  And it ran SLOWWWWWWW. 

     

    I didn't mean to make it sound like I expected 512mb of memory would be enough, because that is not the case.  I just could not believe how slow it was stock and the fact that Dell would sell it that way.  They had to have tested the systems before selling them and someone at Dell India(na) should have recognized that the system was severely crippled.  People with little computer knowledge would just assume the PC was slow and complain.  Kinda like what you are doing by taking my comment out of context.

     



    Message Edited by dscrap on 02-08-2007 05:51 PM
  • dscrap,
     
    I was seeking positive confirmation that the Dell reinstallation DVD would not cause the installation of extraneous software that possibly could muck up the standard OS operation.  Your description did provide that confirmation. 
     
    Thanks greatly.
  •  I keep getting logged off dial-up service every 3 minutes after install of Vista. AT&T ISP proved not their problem as my other computer running XP Home stays connected.  Dell support told me to press CNTL+ F11 and use system restore. Inspiron 1501 does not respond to that command and when I try your suggestion of F8 ,Repair your computer does not appear as an option.Also computer locks up frequently and verticall stripes appear on screen. Computer is still under warranty. What do you suggest?
     
    Thanks
  • Hey there, read your post and seemed interesting about your research.....

     

    now to the point i was not as lucky as u are with my vista system...i think i messed up my restore drive unknowingly although i never deleted a thing.....but for now i dont have an image of the drive either.....so i was wondering that is there a way to recreate this partition back to its normal state?????

     

    if possible can i get your image of recovery drive....however if u wish to give but dont trust then edit the image and delete the factory .wim file but plz make sure that you don't alter the contents....

     

    this is because that when i opened my drive in a ntfs explorer it showed that this drive was not bootable.....so i would like to do some research on it

     

     

    my mail id hotmins@yahoo.co.in

    Message Edited by hotmins on 03-13-2008 01:55 AM