Hello Technical Gurus,
Need your help please.
After running all diagnostics, CHKDSK, defrag, etc., I believe the HD in our Dell Inspiron 531 (running Windows Vista Home 32-bit) is failing; the CHKDSK found all kinds of issues. The next thing I did was restore the OS to its factory settings with the built-in utility and it is still super-slow...as if it's dying.
Instead of doing more troubleshooting or buying another computer, thought I'd (1) replace the hard drive with a new hard drive, (2) install a 2nd HD, and (3) install Windows on one of the new HDs, along with (4) the drivers. I have no clue what type/size HD is in the computer now...but I have two Western Digital SATA 160GB hard drives that I wanted to use to (1) replace the old HD and (2) expand by adding the second new HD.
My question is: exactly how do I do go about doing this? Seems like a catch-22: remove the bad hard drive and pop in the new one...then there's no OS to run the computer.
I would very much appreciate detailed instructions in the correct sequence from an expert. (I read thru the online Dell manual but it does not address making these 2 changes at the same time and I looked thru the community forum but I didn't understand the responses to similar questions.)
Just wanted to thank you for all the expert information you provided and for hanging in there with me. I really appreciate it.
Well, the best thing to do is one thing at a time :) Put in one drive and worry about it first.
You have three options for putting an OS on the new drive:
1. Create a set of recovery disks from within Windows, using Dell's DataSafe Local (version of the factory restore that can be stored on CD/DVD) application. However, depending on the damage created by the bad drive and the problems with the OS, this may fail ... or it may appear to be successful, but contain corrupted data, causing the OS, once restored, to not function properly ... if at all. This will give you a set of bootable CD/DVD(s) to boot from.
2. Backup/restore your OS using Vista's built-in backup or some other cloning tool. Problem with this is if the failing drive caused data to become corrupted and that is why things don't work right, then you will just be cloning the problems to your new drive. This will store your backup on CD/DVD or on an external hard drive, and can be accessed by booting to a Windows disk or the cloning tool's bootable utility.
3. Use the Vista installation DVD from Dell to reinstall from scratch. This is your best alternative and will ensure that the OS on your new drive works properly. If you don't have this disk, you will need to order this from Dell's technical support (or buy one online - eBay, etc.). With this method, you will have a bootable Windows installation disk to put the new OS on the drive.
Whatever option you choose, just worry about one new drive. After everything is up and running, then you can add the second drive in at anytime.
Thanks theflash1932. That was quick.
I'll go with option 3; I have the CDs from Dell. And I'll follow your advice of saving the second HD for later.
So now I need the detailed instructions.
I read how to remove a HD and install a new HD in the Dell Inspiron 531 user manual but the HD I will remove has the OS on it, so what's the next step since I'm guessing the computer doesn't work when I remove the HD with the OS?
Wife and kids are out of town ... got my workout in, the lawn cut, and laundry done this morning, so I'm just sitting on my computer working and watching TNG :)
Basically, once you have removed the bad hard drive (with the OS) and put the new one in its place, when you turn on the computer, it will do just what it normally does - show the Dell screen with the memory initialization/test progress bar and the F2 and F12 options in the upper right corner. This is the BIOS/POST sequence - every computer has something similar. At the end of POST (Power On Self Test), you will get a message that no boot device was found (as your drive does not yet have a boot sector written to it).
So, what you want to do is press F12 when you see that option (make sure you have the Windows DVD in the drive first :)). You will be presented with a boot menu, and you will need to select CD/DVD ROM drive ... this will boot your computer to the Windows DVD, where Windows Setup will start. From there, it is just a matter of following the screens/prompts for installing Windows.
There is a chance that when you get to the screen where Windows asks you where you want to install to that it will say that no hard drives were found. If that is the case, then you will need to give Windows the driver for the onboard SATA (drive) controller. Click on the link in the bottom-left that says Load Driver. You can put the files from driver below (after downloading AND running it to extract the files) on a USB flash drive, CD, or floppy (I recommend USB).
Once you get Vista installed, the first thing you want to do is install the drivers. You need to install the chipset first. Normally, Dell systems have a System Software that needs to be installed before the chipset, but yours does not.
Next, you need to start installing drivers for other device in your system. Start with this:
<ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed / replaced from this post by Dell>
Beyond these, you will need to narrow it down to individual devices that your system came with, for example:
If you are using the onboard audio chip, you need to install this driver:
<ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell>
If you are using an add-in card for sound - a SoundBlaster card - you need to install this driver instead:Video isn't so easy, as you might be using the onboard video, or you might be using one of 6 or 8 different graphics cards. You'll need to try to find out which you are using before trying to install drivers for them. You can find out by reviewing your original order details (you can look them up by going to the website below, entering your Service Tag, then switching to the Original Configuration tab):
Or you can open Device Manager (right-click Computer, Manage), right-click on the device in question, Properties, Details tab, change dropdown to Hardware Ids, and give us the VEN and DEV ID's (or look them up on PCIDatabase.com).
You might also have a wireless networking card, Bluetooth, or even a modem that will also need drivers.
Let us know how it's coming and what else you need.
I found all the DVDs that came with this computer; they are:
(1) Reinstallation DVD Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit;
(2) DVD for Reinstalling Dell Inspiron 531 Computer Software;
(3) Dell SE198WFP LCD Flat Panel Monitor;
(4) Roxio Creator & MyDVD 9.0 DE.
Separately, I have the DVDs for the (1) wireless network card and (2) MS Office software that we added later.
Does this mean I don't have to download all those drivers nor determine which sound and video cards are on this computer (that is, I can just install whatever is on these CDs)?
No, disk 2 might have drivers on it, but you would still have to determine which devices you have ... AND the drivers would all be outdated. I would use the versions from the website (many of which are labeled Recommended or Urgent to ensure your system's stability), to make sure you have all the latest fixes in place.
Disk 1 is really the only one you need.
Disk 2 might contain drivers too, but probably has some of the programs that were installed on the system from Dell ... again, these will likely all be available in their latest versions from the download site for your 531.
Disk 3 won't be needed - just make sure you run Windows Updates (with the "for other Microsoft software" enabled) ... this will download the latest driver for the monitor from Microsoft.
Disk 4 is only needed once everything else is done to put Roxio back on your computer ... if you want it.
Install Microsoft Office once everything else is installed and updated.
For your wireless network card ... go to the card's manufacturer's website for the latest driver for it as well.
Below is the 'original configuration' based on the Service Tag. Can you tell which (1) sound driver and (2) video driver I should install based on this? (I can't and I've already removed the old HD - the computer would not boot up - kept saying it had a fatal error and couldn't come out of hibernation.)
1. CJ339Mouse,Universal Serial Bus 2BTN,Wheel,Lead Free,Optical Black
4. PN424Dual In-line Memory Module,1G 667M,128X64,8,240,2RX8
5. JF495Modem,V.92,Data Fax,Internal SON2,Lead Free,Dell Americas Organization
7. UN492Display,Flat Panel Display,19 SE198WFPV,Silver,Dell AmericasOrganization
8. HX425Kit,Software,Overpack,VHP32 A01,Digital Video Disk Drive England
9. HX876Assembly,DVD+/-RW,16X,Half Height,BARE,Hitachi Lg Data Storage
10. GM149Processor,X2,4400+,2.3,1MB 2C,65W,G1
11. RY206Card (Circuit),Planar (Motherboard),Desktop,531/531SM/B
Looking at the items connected to the mother board, I see a card with the name "Contexant Systems, Inc." on its label; not sure if that's a clue.
Thanks theflash1932. I appreciate all your help and detail.
Hi as you have all the discs provided with your system please follow my guide below, it will tell you how to install Vista on your hard drive.
You should start on Step 4. use another computer to download the standalone service packs, standalone IE9 and system drivers save these on an external hard drive or USB stick.
Windows Reinstallation Guide and Related Wikies See here for other wikies such as Customising and Using Windows 8.1, Dell Wireless Cards and Unofficial Drivers.
From the lack of devices in your order details, it would not appera as though you are using an add-in sound or video card, so ...
If the above video driver doesn't work, try running this one (it is unclear which is which):
The Conexant card you saw would be your modem - pretty pointless unless you have dial-up Internet service ... might as well install the driver to keep your system stable ... or take the card out and throw it away :):
I started the Windows OS installation and just after selecting 'custom installation', it asked me 'Where do you want to install Windows?' with two options:
(1) Disk 0 Partition 2 (148.7GB total size and 0.0MB free space);
(2) Disk 0 Unallocated Space (128.0 MB total size and 128.0 MB free space).
At the bottom of this window is a yellow triangle with an exclamation point that says 'Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of the GPT partition style.'
This new HD was taken from a brand new Apple XSERVE server...never used so I thought it was clean. Do I have to format it or something in order to clear it and make it work for this Windows OS installation? If so, do you know how to do that from the Dell Inspiron 531 that I installed it in?
You can only install to a GPT disk if using the 64-bit version of Windows Vista or higher and on an EFI-enabled computer (which the 531 is not).
Click on Disk Options, and delete Partition 2 ... it should then show a single unit of Unallocated Space, then format it ... that should clear the GPT flag from the disk. If not, there is something else we can do.
When I deleted Partition 2, it did show a single unit of Unallocated Space but the FORMAT option became disabled. The only enabled options are:
(2) Load Driver
I tried clicking NEW and it asked how many MB I wanted; I accepted the default and when it was done, it had renamed 'Unallocated space' to 'Partition 2' but the 'GPT' error message is still there. And the same 3 options are still the only ones enabled; the 'Delete', 'Extend', and 'Format' options are still disabled.
Is there something else I can do?
Sorry ... choose New and create a partition using the entire space on the drive, then format it.
I did and when I click FORMAT, it proceeds and renames 'Unallocated space' to 'Partition 2' but the 'GPT' error message is still there.
So I then clicked LOAD DRIVER, and installed the SATA driver (from the 'sataraid' subfolder created when I extracted the downloaded file earlier today), and the 'GPT' error message is still there.
The NEXT button is disabled so I cannot proceed with the Windows OS installation.
I keep reading about a 'diskpart' command but I don't know how to get to a command line without the Windows OS installed...
Ok, then you will need to convert it manually to a basic disk ...
Now you can reboot, select Install Now, and try again.