The selected partition does not contain a valid Windows installation


TS Rookie
In trying to boot my laptop (Dell Inspiron 17R 7720) in desperation I tried a recovery program. I got this message:

The selected partition does not contain contain a valid windows installation. You've either selected a data drive or the volume has been formatted and cannot be repaired.

How should I handle this? Should I reinstall Windows 10? Should I replace the Hard Drive?

When I originally ran Dell's diagnostics I got a blue donut when the Hard Drive was tested but most of the problems related to the RAM. Error Codes: 2000:0122 and fail PSAV4220. Later I got Code 0xc000000e.

Any ideas would be gratefully received.

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
Indication is RAM issue and HDD issue - system is about 7 years old? While you may be able to repair the machine, your data is at risk. Do you have a backup? If you have personal data you want to retain, this should be your focus.

If it were mine to do, I would remove the HDD from the laptop and attach it to a working desktop as a 'data drive'. Once I have it recognized and available in the new system, I would make copies of any key files (docs, pix, etc). I would also thoroughly test the HDD with manufacturer's utility and I might try to repartition and full re-format if file structure is damaged.

Once done, I would then attend to the failing laptop by further disassembly, cleaning, replacing TIM, confirming that RAM is re-seated and tested HDD back in place with good connection. I might also feed it a fresh coin battery. Then I would cross my fingers and try it again.

Depending on result, if I cannot recover operation, I would be taking RAM to a local repair shop equipped with memory test equipment like the Ramcheck LX and/or I would replace the HDD. Hopefully, this is a Win10 machine and a clean install of the OS will be authenticated - otherwise, you need your 'key' (from sticker on system).

Since I'm wondering if others might have better ideas, you might want to delay and prepare by checking any videos about disassembly of your specific model. Dell is likely to have a maintenance manual which you can download.


TS Rookie
Thank you! Very helpful. I have downloaded a Manual and have backups, but as you suggested I will standby to see if there are other ideas before doing anything major. I have checked out removing HDD and RAM and sourced replacements so will check online tutorials. Thanks again for your good advice.

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
CW, fingers crossed it is just a need for new storage and a re-seating of RAM. Dells are good about diagnostics and documentation (I have 5 of them here at home - just donated the last HP to Goodwill).

ps Hint about laptops - screws can be of different lengths. So I push them into a piece of cardboard and make notes right on the card.

Mark Fuller

TS Booster
You can try to recover it from a flash drive with the os on it. You can download an iso from to download the Media Creation Tool (Click on Download Tool Now), with that you can download the latest Windows 10 ISO (Select Create Installation Media for Another PC), you can create a bootable USB flash drive (min 8GB) using that tool

Then, Boot your PC from the Installation Media you just created (change Boot Order in your BIOS) to begin installing Windows 10. Did it maybe come with 8.1 and was upgraded to w10. If that is so, it is probably why the recovery program did not work.
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