I realize that this question has already been posted in several varieties, however I am skeptical of some of the answers to those previous posts.
Working with a Dell Inspiron 1545 w/ Vista -- the computer actually belongs to my sister-in-law, and much like many of you, I am the family computer repair technician.
Because the system described above was essentially frozen up with malware etc., I used the recovery disks (which I have access to, but not actually in my hands right now) to do a system recovery -- or at least that's what I thought was going on.
This variety of Dell has a large (appx. 180 GB) hard drive called "C:" along with a separate partition called "E:" that is, of course, a recovery partition. Unbeknownst to me, after the recovery operation, the computer got the idea that the E: partition is the hard drive, and began using it as the ordinary drive. Now the hard drive E: is full, and the system is essentially crashed -- more or less inoperable.
I have access to the disks, but I am curious to know how to convince the computer to resume using the ordinary C: partition as opposed to the E:. I'd be happy to re-recover the computer, but I have no guarantee that I won't just re-introduce the problem, since I'm not quite sure what, if anything, I did to get the computer into this situation in the first place.
I don't recall having ever told the computer to begin using E: instead of C:, nor would I have, except by accident. However, I must admit that I am a bit inexperienced with performing system recoveries with OEM recovery disks -- most of my experience in this area has been with an original Windows off-the-shelf disk, where I can simply wipe the you-know-what out of the system, and then reinstall from what is really, truly, square one.
Final bits of additional info: at boot-time, a boot menu comes up asking me if I want to use "Microsoft Windows Vista" -- which leads to a newly installed copy of vista on the entirely full "E:" partition, or if I want to launch "Windows Vista" (note the slight difference), which leads me to the old, crashed version of the operating system on the "C:" partition.
Any input at all about how to deal with this situation would be greatly appreciated.