Installing a new OS, how to access old factory restore option?

By Trillionsin
Jun 26, 2012
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  1. I have a Dell Inspiron 531 here that I am working on for a friend of a family member. Looks like they decided to install Windows 7, and they are getting the "Windows is not genuine" dialog that we just love to see.

    So, I figured I'd just back up the user data, and do a factory restore. The Dell factory restore partition is still there, but when I hit F8 during boot-up to access the "Repair my computer" option. I do not see Dell's "Dell Factory Image Recover and DataSafe options"

    Now, this is frustrating, because I want to allow them to use their old Vista OS legally, instead of making them cough up $100 for Windows 7 (or a little less for upgrade) plus the $50 fee that I am making them pay to work on it.

    This is also to satisfy my own curiosity. I can still access the Dell partition somehow, right? Just a matter of pointing something to the correct partition (the recovery partition) Am I right? Does anyone know how to do this? I usually google and come up with my own answered but sometimes I just get stuck!

    Edit: Some more information, and what I am trying so far. Opened up the recovery partition and found a Tools folder with PCRestore.exe. I start this, and it open's Dell's restore application, then I check "reformat hard drive..." and it gives me a dialog saying "Access to \tools\ was denied" However I can clearly see the file is in there.

    Edit2: Past the last edit. I started the PCRestore as administrator and accessed the above file. Now I am getting a BLANK DIALOG BOX. wtf?
  2. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    This is the point that I am stuck at.

    So anyone? How to restore a Dell Factory restore?

    TLDR: Restore files still there. F8 doesnt work.
  3. Cobalt006

    Cobalt006 TS Guru Posts: 1,776   +241

    Have you tried going to the dell web site and putting your service tag in. They may have a work around for you. Its worth a shot
  4. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    I am hoping for something more driven to dealing with windows, instead of Dell specifically. As I have encountered this problem on other manufactured laptops, such as Acer, HP, Dell, Toshiba.

    I dont know Cobalt... I get their list of drivers, and applications... but this isnt really what I am looking for. I'll keep looking here just in case, but anyone else have any ideas? I'm sure there's some windows gurus who know!

    How to restore a restore partition...
  5. Cobalt006

    Cobalt006 TS Guru Posts: 1,776   +241

    Ok try this. Right click on my computer. When the menu shows Click manage. At this time the Computer Management window will pop up. After high light your recovery partition. Then on the right click on it. When the the menu drops down. Click on mark partition as active. Then reboot the computer.This should allow you to enter threw the F8 key under advance tools to get the factory restore. Hope this helps.
  6. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    Okay, good idea. However...

    Now F8 doesnt work, when pressed there is no menu, or response. Also, now all I get to is BOOTMGR is missing Press Ctrl... dadda dadda dadda you know the rest.

    This isnt really a big deal, as I can always reinstall a pirated copy of windows if I cant save the legal vista install... however my goal is to learn, and to stay legal. :)

    I may or may not know how to fix this... so Cobalt, if you know how to get me out of this, let me know. I'll post ASAP when I get it figured out, if I do.
  7. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    Okay, popped in a Win 7 instal disc.

    Started up, and selected option to repair my computer. This didnt work, no options available.

    Started up command prompt and used DISKPART to make the OS partition active again.

    Looks like I'm back to square one, where I started when I make this post. Will be editing this post with any updates.
  8. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

  9. Cobalt006

    Cobalt006 TS Guru Posts: 1,776   +241

    In other words . The original system files for this were wiped out when windows 7 was install. Is what it sounds like. Well hopefully someone here will know something that might help. I have ran out of ideals. I will do a little research and see if there is anyway at all to get to the drive image. The two you have tried are the only two I know.
  10. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    Yes, the original system files were wiped out during the installation of Windows 7.

    I'm hoping for someone else to chime in and help, but thank you for your help and ideas! Much apprecaited for the quick replies Cobalt.
  11. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    Yes, the original system files were wiped out during the installation of Windows 7.

    I'm hoping for someone else to chime in and help, but thank you for your help and ideas! Much apprecaited for the quick replies Cobalt.
  12. Cobalt006

    Cobalt006 TS Guru Posts: 1,776   +241

    your welcome
  13. Cobalt006

    Cobalt006 TS Guru Posts: 1,776   +241

    sorry I could not help a little more. There has to be away
  14. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    So, I figured this out. I had to download Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for VISTA. Seems to be one problem, was the original factory.wim image was build on Vista, and I was running Windows 7. Once I downloaded Windows AIK, I went ahead and installed the components. I found this site helpful in directing me to a few video files to walk through on setting up a custom WinPE boot up disc, Intended for creating an image from an OS. I started on step there, where one posted lead me to this video

    However since I already had the image I had to make my own adjustments to the 5th step that they described. Instead of making an image, I went ahead and applied the image from the recovery partition by using a command I found on this site
    This was:

    cd tools

    4. Then type this on the command prompt :

    imagex /apply d:\dell\image\factory.wim 1 c:\"

    Once the imaging process finished.. I think it took about 20 - 30 minutes, not sure because I walked away from the computer. I did not have to use bcdboot for the windows partition, I didnt reformat anything. Also for some reason bcdboot command was not working for me on my WinPE boot disc, not sure why.

    Once I rebooted from that point I was welcomed with OOBE, and I just finished that up before writing this and it has rebooted and gone through Dell's mumbo jumbo and finishing up installation of their bloat-ware.

    Hopefully this post helps out any future searchers for a problem of similuar nature, and now I have a little bit more knowledge on Windows automation process... powerful tool that I might make myself more familiar with.

    Any other searchers, keep on searching, the answer is always out there!

    Post if you have any questions!
  15. Cobalt006

    Cobalt006 TS Guru Posts: 1,776   +241

    Glad to here you are up and running. Will hold on to your info here. Its a good fine
  16. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    I am just adding some information to this thread that is somewhat related, and to be used as a personal reference or public.

    Here is where I found the information:

    Here is the information:
    Re: Another System Restore question

    ‎10-17-2012 10:33 AM - edited ‎10-17-2012 10:37 AM
    SOLVED. $20 and one CD shipping week earlier . For your Wiki and anybody browsing the forum:

    You will need. Another PC with your hard drive installed there.
    Any Windows 7 installation DVD. Just be sure to be 32 or 64 bit, depending of your original HP installation.

    1) ImageX

    First download ImageX only. It's correct that Windows AIK includes it but with this link there is no need to download 1.7Gb to get a 500Kb file:

    Extract until you get the "imagex.exe" file. Save it for example on the root of C:\

    2) base.wim images

    Now, inside of the "Recovery" partition (let's say it's F:\ drive), there is hidden folder named "Preload" and inside it you will see the "base.wim" file. In my HP Mini 10 this file contains 4 different images. If you first want to know how many images does it really contains, open a CMD window and run "c:\imagex /info f:\preload\base.wim".

    It will return a text and you will see on the tree different tags like this one: <IMAGE INDEX="4">. Check the number of the last one and you will know how many total images your base.wim file contains.

    3) Prepare partition

    Now, format the partition where you want your Windows installation recovered. You can go Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> (left tree) Disk Management -> Right click partition -> Format -> File System:NTFS -> OK

    4) Create Boot sector

    Not sure if this step is necessary but I did it to prevent problems. From a Win7 installation DVD (d:\boot\bootsect.exe) or getting it from internet, run CMD as Admnistrator (Righ-Click -> Run as Administrator), and then run: bootsect /nt60 g: (if your recently formatted partition is G

    5) Restore images

    With the same CMD window running as Administrator, run the following commands:
    c:\imagex /apply f:\preload\base.wim 1 g:\
    - Change C:\imagex for the correct path.
    - Change F:\preload\base.wim with the correct Restore partition drive letter.
    - Change G:\ with the correct formated partition to be restored.
    - Run it again as many images are on the .wim file, changing the number from 1 - 4

    6) Repair partition

    After restoring all images on the drive, install the hard drive to you HP computer, boot from any Windows 7 DVD (or USB), choose: Repair your computer -> Use recovery tools than can help... -> Startup Repair.

    Once it's finished, remove your Win7 installation disk, and reboot your PC normally from the recently restored drive.

    Good luck!
  17. terry5880

    terry5880 TS Enthusiast Posts: 321

    I know its either when logo comes up press ctrl f11
  18. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,112   +61

    Terry, this thread doesn't need answered anymore. Please reada few posts before you respond.

    Oh btw terry? So how is your dell laptop, terry? I could be wrong. It's probably a desktop pc...

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