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How to repair Dell PC Restore

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How to repair Dell PC Restore

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I have a Dimension 9150 running on XP

With all the excitement of Windows 7 i tried it for a while. Now I uninstalled Windows 7 and deleted the partition I made for it, leaving my good old XP in a one piece “C” drive.

Being only a standard user I had no idea that making a partition in my “C” drive would make my Symantec Dell factory restore not work anymore. Unfortunately no one mentioned it in the instructions to install Widows 7.

I have been searching in the net and the solution I found in has a very detailed and very technical manual about how to fix this issue, still for me is just impossible to understand It since requires of a knowledge I don’t have, I would probably be able to follow the instructions with child like explanations, but the manual is written for people who obviously know what some technical words and some functions are.

I live in an insolated place in the jungle, so I don’t really have a choice to just take it to a technician, and in any case what I would find in the nearest location would be someone who probably has no idea how to deal with this problem.

I really need to bring my computer back to factory default,

I’m actually having a kind of anxiety crisis with this issue, could someone please help me solve it out?

Beforehand I really appreciate very much any given help.

Mario Mayorga

All Replies
  • The installation of a different Operating System caused the corruption of the Dell Recovery Partition. If you found instructions on how to fix it you are very lucky and will need to take those instructions to someone who can follow them. 

    If you made a separate partiton for Windows 7, and left the Windows XP partition in tact, it should still be working?  Or at a minimum you may need to run Windows XP "Repair" using the Windows XP disc.   I had the Windows 7 RC1 beta version installed on a hard drive with Vista and I removed the Windows 7 RC1 last week and recovered the partiton space.  But, it had no affect on Vista (I had a dual boot with Vista and Windows 7).  However, this was on my home built PC and there wasn't any Dell Recovery Partition on that.

    I am not a Dell Employee

    Dell forum member since 2002

    Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

    Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS Z170, i7 6700K CPU,  Windows 10 64 bit Pro. SSD drive.  Studio One 3 Recordng Studio Software.

    Dell SE2717HR 27" Monitor


    Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

  • Hello 

    Thank you so much for your kind reply.

    Yes i made a separate partition for the Windows 7 Beta, and XP was left intact, as I mentioned I uninstalled Windows 7 and got rid of the partition i made for it, XP works perfectly and all my files are in place, the only thing that got messed up was the Dell PC recovery.

    Unfortunately this computer came with no installation CD´s what so ever, Dell was very proud of giving everything installed with a marvelous PC Recovery System which assured I would never need and Windows or Drivers CD´s.

    So this is one of the reasons I’m so upset, If I had at least the CD´s I would just format and keep on going.

    So l guess I just need to find someone who understands how to move inside real DOS, I have never used it and it is not even easy to access it for real.

    Or totaly format and buy a new Windows XP (wich might be difficult and expensive to find in my country)

    By the way if anyone else has this issue this is the link to the solution: 


  • Hi mario,


    Try to boot the Dell restore partition first by making it active, software by Norton, Paragon and others can make 'boot CD's' that can see hiden or unknown file system partitions and make them boot, I have tried this on a few older Dell systems while installing XP Pro instead of the Home Version etc. -

  • I also did the same thing, and using goodells instructions did not work.

    After I removed windows 7 from the second partition, the first and third partitions were

    not reconnized as FAT or FAT32 and I could not get into them from DOS to fix.

    Only option was to format them. I hope this info is useful to other before

    installing windows7. I did have backup and rebuilt the drive.

    BTW   I really liked windows 7.

  • Dell has a program to supply one set of replacement discs to the registered owner.  In the US there is an on line form  HERE   There are similar programs in other countries but I don't have any links.  Dell in those other areas would need to be contacted to get the discs.

    Tom Green
    I also did the same thing, and using goodells instructions did not work


    I haven't seen any posts on this forum of anyone that successfully recovered a corrupted Dell Recovery Partition. 

    I am not a Dell Employee

    Dell forum member since 2002

    Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

    Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS Z170, i7 6700K CPU,  Windows 10 64 bit Pro. SSD drive.  Studio One 3 Recordng Studio Software.

    Dell SE2717HR 27" Monitor


    Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

  • mario


    Both positive & negative feedback is useful to those helping & searching for possible solutions

    The absence of feedback is common in these Forums (for whatever reason) & doesn’t help anyone

    Unfortunately, few provide detailed feedback describing, “what fix worked or how they did it”


    Anyhow, about the Dell PC Restore (DSR) utility


    If the DSR partition has been deleted then the unique restore image is gone forever

    But if you can still see the DSR partition then the restore image is probably OK


    A number of members have reported success using the dsrfix tool to repair Dell MBR & re-enable the <Ctrl> <F11> combination key DSR boot function – again few provide detailed feedback

    Don’t know if this this will help, see the detailed feedback described in this thread, click here


    A working DSR utility has some advantages over the XP Clean Install option

    But both have the same problem because you then need to reinstall everything that was installed after computer purchase date, in particular ALL the MS updates & that can be a time consuming task


    A much better way is to use imaging software to create your own up-to-date image from a clean, stable system then store it on some suitable backup media for future recovery


    As mentioned above, you really do need to source the Dell OEM CDs that should have been supplied with computer purchase



    Hello Bell Boy

    I very much appreciate the help, I have a growing interest in understanding how to fix this although its mixed with confusion, honestly i feel lost in the middle of the ocean in a black night, still posts like yours let me see a lighthouse in the far horizon.

    I followed your link to other posts and ther is this one that has another link to a "thread" which 

    in your post you mention the following:

    Depends on what you did when reinstalling WXP, the DSR image partition may still be present & OK, but the other part (the Dell modified MBR) will be overwritten, this situation can be fixed if you (or friend) have ability to use Dsrfix tool. Read ALL of this thread if you want details on DSR issues & links to fix Dell modified MBR problem

    but clicking on the thread link unfortunately opens the  Dell Community front page so I have no idea where the thread could be at. This is what opens: :

    Ok so I have armed myself with tons of patience and I’m willing to try everything possible, my only fear is to screw things more than they already are, since my lack of knowledge is like being blindfold.Sad

    So back to reality when uninstalled Windows 7 and got rid of the partition I made for it (using EASEUS Partition Manager 3.0 Home Edition) I did see the “C” drive to be as it was before, this means there is a small invisible partition FAT16 with 31.35MB size, the middle the NTFS with 143.53GB and in the end another small fraction with a FAT32 with 5:45GB (I think this is where the system recovery image file is, right?

    So as far as I understand this partition is still there I just hope I can access it and best would be to fix my beloved ctrl+f11 command… Crying


    So still in the intent, and suggestions for a kindergarden computer user would be very appreciated

    I have no way to thank you for your kind reply.Big SmileYes

    By any chance is there a way someone who really knows how to do it could connect to my computer to help me fix this?


  • Check and start at DSRFIX Quick-Start.

    I have used it several times and it works. If you can see the partition as a FAT or FAT32,

    It should work for you. You will need to download the file and burn the iso to cd and boot

    into DOS to use the dsrfix file.  Hope this helps.

  • Hello Tom


    Thanks so much for your attention to my problem, yes I stumbled in my search with Goodells, and it seems to me this is the solution indeed, I have read it over and over, I don’t know how many times in the intent to understand it, but still I don´t. L

    I have downloaded the DSRFIX files. Have tried to understand the instructions about what to do once in DOS

    Have found out a way to make a boot flash drive as instructed here:

    Since I have never done this before I just hope all the steps are right but can´t be sure about it, so  still struggling to really be able to boot in DOS

    No matter what I do every restart my pc just opens Windows XP normally and it’s just not booting from my flash drive.

    As I understand there is something I have to specific in the bios for the machine to look from the Flash drive as a start sequence to boot. To boot form a usb or something like that So far I have just been random guessing turning on and off what I think that could be, but I have not found any instructions on the web so far about how to do this so I have been trying as much as my insignificant understanding can with no success at all.

    Have been sitting here for some 30 hours totally stuck 

    By any chance you know how to really be able to boot in DOS?

    Once again thanks so much,

    Somehow I have the strange feeling this can be fixed and I shall manage it at some point thanks to the wonderful help of people of this forum.












    If you are booting to a USB device, connect the USB device to a USB connector (see page 111).



    Turn on (or restart) your computer.

    POST Hotkeys



    This option allows you to specify the function keys to display on the screen when the computer starts.

    Keyboard Errors


    This option disables or enables keyboard error reporting when the computer starts.






    When F2 = Setup, F12 = Boot Menu appears in the upper-right corner of the screen,

    press <F12>.

    If you wait too long and the operating system logo appears, continue to wait until you see the

    Microsoft Windows desktop. Then shut down your computer (see page 63) and try again.



    Boot Device Menu appears, listing all available boot devices. Each device has a number

    next to it.



    At the bottom of the menu, enter the number of the device that is to be used for the current

    boot only.

    For example, if you are booting to a USB memory key, highlight



    USB Flash Device and press <Enter>.



    To boot to a USB device, the device must be bootable. To make sure your device is bootable,

    This is from your Owner's Manual.

    The file you downloaded has a dsrfix.iso file you could burn to a blank CD and it is bootable.

    Hope this helps. 

  • Hi again Mario


    A. Missing links – to threads that is!!!!


    Unfortunately the Dell Community site was revamped last year & links to lots of threads were broken


    This is a summary Huh?   A step-by-step explanation would be too long to include as a reply


    B. Booting from a USB flash drive


    There are two critical conditions:


    1. Computer BIOS must support booting from a USB device, to check if it does:


    Press the F2 key during boot to enter System Setup (BIOS)

    Under Boot Sequence, look for a USB Device entry, preceded by a number (normally 1 to 6)

    If it exists then you can boot from USB bootable media device (e.g. a bootable flash drive)


    To boot from a particular device, you either select the device (if present) from F12 key boot menu

    Or from System Setup & follow the BIOS on screen instructions

    Normally you use keyboard arrow keys to highlight that device then the + key to move the device up the Boot Sequence list to position 1 (first boot device), then exit save BIOS settings

    The computer will then auto reboot & attempt to boot load from Boot Sequence device 1, if that device does not contain required boot files/sectors, it then tries device 2 & so on until a bootable device is found

    When booting from a selected device you need to look at the screen for a “press any key prompt”, this prompt only lasts a few seconds & if you don’t press any key the computer will automatically look for the next bootable device & you need to reboot again


    2. The USB flash drive device needs to be bootable


    There are lots & lots of web sites that will explain details on “how to”, if not sure then try (scroll down & click on How To Boot From A USB Flash DRIVE)


    C. Dell PC Restore by Symantec (DSR) image partition


    If not already done, navigate to Disk Management as follows:


    Start > right click My Computer > select Manage > Storage > Disk Management


    Assuming you didn’t have MediaDirect preinstalled then check you have 3 partitions:


    1. EISA – a MB FAT

    2. Windows + other software – a GB NTFS

    3. Dell PC Restore by Symantec (DSR) image – a GB FAT32


    Size of partitions vary & the DSR image partition tends to be between 3 & 5 GB (depends on computer & amount of Dell preinstalled software)


    So yes, the 5:45GB FAT32 would be the DSR image partition


    D. Using the DOS OS dsrfix tool


    Is similar to using the commands in XP Recovery Console, where command syntax includes spaces etc..

    Just make sure the correct commands are used, as described in Dan’s web site procedures

    Before attempting any fix by using the /F switch in the command, you could just run a report as explained in the “Understanding the Dsrfix Report” section

    If not already done, print off a copy of the section

    Normally starts to make sense after reading a couple of (or more if necessary) times


    E. Alternative


    If not familiar with DOS type command syntax & apprehensive about making changes to the Dell MBR

    Then better if you follow previous advice to either obtain Dell OEM CDs or buy XP Full Retail version, do a Clean Install, reinstall everything, then create your own up-to-date image as a recovery backup


  • So hello again:

    I’m extremely happy and thankful for the help here received.

    I really have no words to thank the support and the positive attitude, the detailed information and the unconditional care to help an unknown person somewhere in the planet suffering from a cybernetic headache.

    I followed Bellboy´s Tom Green, Fireberd and of course the detailed instructions of Goodells instructions and wonderful software he gives just because of his passion to help

    Yes My Computer works now again perfectly, I was able to fix my restore option with my good old Ctr+F11

    At the beginning I felt overwhelmed by the technical information and to have to go inside my computers deep vital organs DOS which I had not even heard of its existence.

    So thanks for the advice to read the manuals a few times after getting used to the shock I discovered it was not as difficult as I thought it was, finally I was able to decipher each step calmly though the days, achieving small goals one after the other.

    So I learned how to boot from a pen drive with the downloaded files from goodells

    And to use the fixing tool in DOS.

    The last step of course was a deep breath and a though of “what the heck let’s just do it no matter what happens” after this my next reaction was a full smile from ear to ear. It was fixed !!!!!!!!!

    Thanks again I feel in debt with your all.

    Mario Mayorga (Mexico)

  • Hello Again

    I think I was happy before I should, 

    After what I thought had been fixed resetting Dell´s system recovery, I cannot bring the computer to factory defaults.

    I used all the instructions and the software from and when through all the fixing procedure

    I thought it was fixed because in the starting sequence the blue top line with the Dell logo does appears which is where the Ctrl+F11 can be used to return the computer to the state as when it was shipped from the factory.

    To my surprise when trying to use the system restore there appears a message that says:

    PBR 3 Done

    NTLDR is missing

    Press any key to restart

    Pressing any key brings this same message again shutting off the computer does not work either, when its turned on again the same message appears again.

    I have no idea how I was able to boot into DOS again to be able to then shut off and boot windows normally again.

    So here I am with this new problem, and I have no idea what to do about it.

    Dell Dimension 9150

    XP home

    It came with the OS installed and not a single CD proudly saying the system restore was there instead of the CD´s

    I would certainly appreciate any help solving it out.

    I really need to get my computer back to the state when it was when new.

    Mario (Mexico)

  • Hi again Mario


    Thanks for the feedback, great that you managed to re-enable the <Ctrl> <F11>


    Could be bad news about the missing NTLDR file?


    I’m assuming you have changed BIOS device boot sequence back to normal settings?

    And the primary HDD (where boot loader files are located) is drive 0 (zero)


    If correct then other common causes are either:


    1. Hardware – bad/damaged Hard Drive Disk (HDD) sectors or loose HDD/mobo cable connection

    2. Software – missing/corrupt Windows XP boot loader files (includes the NTLDR file)


    Sorry but as previously mentioned, you really do need to source the Dell OEM CDs/DVDs that should have been supplied with computer purchase


    Assume the editing of MBR partition table did point to the recovery image partition, if correct & the DSR image was restored then it tends to point to bad HDD boot sectors or cable issues?


    Check cable connections

    If you don’t have the Dell OEM Resource CD to run hardware diagnostics, download diagnostics utility, install on your bootable USB drive & run diagnostics to check HDD


    If it were just a software related problem then you could either use Windows Repair Install or copy NTLDR & other boot loader files from XP CD to your primary HDD XP OS partition

    But then you don’t have the Dell OEM XP CD!!!!!!!


  • This can happen when the DSR doesn't go back to a seal state.  With the dsrfix used in DOS was another

    file called     "PTEdit"     which looks something like this

                                                   Type             Boot       Cyl

                                   1              DE                00

                                   2              07                 80

                                   3              DB                00

                                  4              00                  00

    Do NOT change anything in the other columns but check that  #3  is set to DB for type and the Boot is set to 00.

    Check #2 for the 80 in the Boot column this sets that partition to active so it boots and not PBR3. You can only have ONE of the 

    4 partitions set to active. If as I think your #3 is set to 80, change it to 00 and change #2 to 80, or set like above and it should boot

    the correct partition.   Hope this helps.