You installed Windows 8 consumer preview so the factory settings will no longer work. You will need to perform a manual installation, see my wiki A Clean Install of Windows.
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.
No, you don't have to. Some people feel it is faster or easier to put Service Pack 3 into your CD when [re]installing XP. I disagree, BUT if you don't "slipstream" SP3 into your installation, then you WILL have to install SP3 using Windows Update once XP is installed, which, in my opinion, is easier anyway.
Are you pressing F8 at power on? or are you waiting until before Windows starts? The Dell recovery partition is accessed at POST (Power On Self Test).
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Boot into windows 7
1. Go to start then right click on computer and click manage. In computer management click on disk management then find the recovery partition and give it a drive letter. I usually give it R for recovery.
2. Open an elevated command prompt and enter :
attrib -h -s r:\recovery\windowsre press enter
attrib -h -s r:\recovery\windowsre\winre.wim press enter
reagentc /disable press enter
reagentc /setreimage /path r:\recovery\windowsre /target c:\windows press enter
reagentc /enable press enter
Hopefully you will see "Operation successful" after each reagentc command, then reboot and press F8 and it might work.
I'm not sure what windows 8 changed, but worth a try.
Whats the service pack stuff and drivers about? Do I HAVE to do that? I'm confused and I just want to get my computer back to the way it was when I got it. I already saved all of my files online so I dont care what goes missing as long as it works like when I pulled it out of the box.
I have a a CD that came with my laptop that says "Drivers and Utilities // Already installed on your computer // for Reinstalling Dell Inspiron Laptop computer software" Do I still have to do steps 5 and 6?
With regards to the service pack slipstream or the installation of service packs before the system drivers, I have experienced a significant increase in performance on various systems when doing so, definitely more pronounced on Windows Vista and Windows 7 installs but there is a minor difference on Windows XP also. I find in particular when ATI or Realtek drivers are involved. For example I clean installed Windows Vista on my friends Inspiron 1501 without Service Pack 1, it worked fine until he ran Windows Update to get Service Pack 1 and the performance just crashed, the Video drivers were somehow conflicting. We installed Service Pack 1 before the drivers and the system runs flawlessly. We used the same DVD and almost all the same drivers for the Inspiron 6400 and didn't have any issue with the Service Packs from Windows updates. Hence I strongly recommend doing things this way.
Slipstream is a bit more advanced, but recommended if you are going to install the OS multiple times or use the disc with multiple Dell systems. You can of course alternatively just download the service packs and install them before the drivers. You just download them, save them onto a USB and double click them and let them install much like the system drivers. The end result is the same.
In theory you can just let Windows Update get them, the end result should be the same but in practice I find that it often yields a worse result.
Nat ... I don't want to muddy the waters here, but what sort of "increase in performance" are you seeing (benchmark? perceptive?)? Or do you simply mean the few conflicts you have experienced were resolved by doing it that way? Of the possibly hundreds of Windows 7 installs I've done on various systems - of all manufacturers, supported and not - I have yet to see any conflicts (as it relates to fresh install drivers) or performance issues (gains or losses - from a 'perceptive' POV and a handful of benchmarks). Again, I'm not trying to confuse the issue at hand - just trying to understand what you are seeing and why you would recommend such an advanced solution to a novice computer user (not saying it is bad, if there is a really good reason for doing so). It may also help the OP determine whether or not they should invest the time to do it or not.
The performance. I have not benchmarked them or anything. It is not just perception either. The speed on some units for the opening up of folders and programs is significantly reduced. It feels broken. The system is also restarted several times after installation of the Service Pack to rule out it being a cache issue.
The example of my friends Inspiron 1501 with Windows Vista was an example of possible driver conflict with the service pack. My friend told me his laptop had broken he said he hadn't changed anything on it recently. However it was close to the time Microsoft were pushing the Service Pack 1 through Windows update. So I took him through a clean install, without the Service Pack (as it takes longer to install Vista Service Pack 1 than Vista). It should be noted that this system had nothing on it except Windows Vista, Office 2007 and the system drivers. The unit ran perfectly, he took it home, visited Windows Update and again it was unusable. So I advised him to repeat the process (we had already downloaded everything to the USB stick) and install Service Pack 1 immediately after installing Windows Vista. Then install the drivers. The system worked perfectly and still runs perfectly. In this case the installation was done in an identical manner except for Service Pack 1 (standalone installed) VS. Windows Update. I could have possibly of fixed it without clean installing Windows again however I had done an identical procedure on another friends Inspiron 1501 a month before so I knew it would resolve the problem. Windows Update of Service Pack 1 ruined his Windows installation twice.
I initially thought it was a "Vista issue" however I also experienced issues with my XPS 8300, it didn't have Service Pack 1 in the factory settings despite being several months purchased after Service Pack 1 was out. My Dell Reinstallation DVD also didn't include Service Pack 1 which I was most unpleased with. Anyway installation of Service Pack 1 reduced the performance significantly. Although the performance of the factory settings wasn't great in the first place. The responsiveness of the system was much slower, it periodically froze again I never benchmarked it. There were several of others that experienced similar issues on the XPS 8300, some resolved them by doing a clean install as per my instructions. Some had some hardware issues.
My other friends Latitude E6520 with Windows 7 64 bit had horrendous factory setting and installation of Service Pack 1 made the performance substantially worse. I don't know it didn't have it preinstalled either as it was purchased quite a bit after my XPS 8300. Although we never benchmarked the system me and my friend ran a direct comparison with my Inspiron 6400 with a clean install of Windows 7 and Service Pack 1 (32 bit). All commonly installed programs opened at about twice as fast on the Inspiron 6400 to the Latitude E6520 despite the Latitude E6520 having about twice as strong hardware. Opening of folders in windows explorer likewise. In all cases the Inspiron 6400 performed a task in half the time the Latitude E6520 did. It was like the Latitude E6520 was pausing to think after every mouse click. Upon a clean install with Windows 7 (Dell Reinstallation DVD), Windows 7 Service Pack 1 standalone, Internet Explorer 9 and then the system drivers the expected performance of the unit was achieved. It now performs all the tasks faster than my Inspiron 6400 as it should.
Neither the XPS 8300 or the Latitude E6520 were low spec systems.
I have experienced the issue with several friends HP laptops. One for example with Windows 7 64 bit system performed moderately and then performance crashed (presumably when Service Pack 1 was installed from Windows update). The machines performance was so bad it took about 10 minutes to load into the Windows desktop (i.e. to get in a usable state). I scanned the system for infections it came up clean, I ran ccleaner and defraggler, minimised the startup programs and its performance was still awful. The system's performance was so bad it couldn't multitask. Just came to a grinding halt if a handful of programs were open. A clean install of Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (standalone), Internet Explorer 9 (standalone) and then the drivers and it runs as expected. Its spec was between the Inspiron 6400 and the Latitude E6520.
As I said for me the issue seems to be more prevalent on systems with ATI graphic cards and/or Realtek Audio. Systems that are mainly Intel with integrated graphics etc. are generally fine. Therefore it leads me to the conclusion that it is a driver conflict. As I said it seems to be far more severe in some cases on Vista/7 than XP. As I said this has occurred on quite a few of my friends computers, some just accepted their computer was slow and were even thinking of buying another one because of it. I have helped them and a number of people on Microsoft Answers/here by guiding them through a clean install with the service packs before the drivers. My friends have remarked that their computer is better now than it was new and are very happy with them.
theflash1932Of the possibly hundreds of Windows 7 installs I've done on various systems - of all manufacturers, supported and not - I have yet to see any conflicts (as it relates to fresh install drivers) or performance issues (gains or losses - from a 'perceptive' POV and a handful of benchmarks).
I am surprised that you haven't came across this issue but I certainly have. As such I will always advise in my wikies and elsewhere installing the Service Packs immediately after Windows or slipstreaming them. Again it might not make a difference in some systems but in quite a few systems I have dealt with it has and therefore I think it is the best way of proceeding. Also I have found it to reduce other problems with Windows Update (which was more prevalent on some XP systems I have worked on).
You have mentioned several times "factory settings" ... I rarely keep the factory-installed OS on delivered PC's (or on PC's I do reinstalls on). I usually wipe everything out, including the waste-of-space Recovery Partition, and do a fresh install. So, if you are talking about factory installations, then I wouldn't even have enough experience with them to say one way or another - I am talking about all fresh/clean installs and have never seen issues with SP1 vs. non-SP1 media and/or SP1 installation before or after drivers (although now, usually, as a matter of practice and course of habit, I have settled into a mode of installing all updates before updating missing/out-of-date drivers, but only because it is easier not to fight with Windows Update for reboots and CPU/network time and some drivers are eventually updated through WU).
Yes I have mentioned "factory settings" and as you may have gathered I don't take to them very much. All the systems I mentioned now have a clean install.
I didn't attempt to do a clean install of Windows 7 on all the mentioned systems without the service pack and then go to windows update as I didn't want to install Windows 7 twice on all of them. However from what happened to the Inspiron 1501 (with Vista Service Pack 1 via Windows Update - it "broke" the system with the factory settings and also with the clean install). As the factory settings did get worse on some of the systems then I would say there is quite a high chance such an issue would reoccur for some systems if the service pack is installed after the drivers even on a clean install.
Performance is not the only reason I mention it. On security aspects I would definitely not connect an XP (no SP, SP1) to the internet. I would be hesitant with XP SP2 also. In fact with most the XP systems I personally would have SP3, IE8 and WMP11 there and Microsoft Security Essentials with the latest standalone .dat installed before connecting the system to the internet.
Here is a 13 page thread on Microsoft Answers, many of these people had issues with the service pack similar to what I saw. They all compare their performance after installing the service pack to how it was before. The performance drain is quite drastic. I guess none of them installed it before the drivers which could potentially of made quite a huge difference like it did in all the systems I mentioned. I guess most of them would also of been on the factory settings.