Reformatting a Dell Computer

January 12, 2007 at 09:08:51
Specs: Windows XP Home Edition, Pentium III 512

My computer has been infested with spyware. It is starting to do very peculiar things. I have ran several programs such as Spy Doctor 4 and System Mechanic Pro, and cannot rid my computer of some of this malicious crap. Therefore I have decided to reformat. I use a Dell computer which was passed on to me as a gift. I was wondering if anyone could direct me to a guide of how to reformat a Dell or inform me of any critical information I need to know before I delete EVERYTHING. Any help would be appreciated.

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January 12, 2007 at 09:14:05

you need a windows xp oem install cd ... not all dell computers come with that cd, usually they only come with a restore-to-factory-standard cd.

however, if you have such a disc, click the link in the left hand column that reads 'install guides' ... it's all there.

Today's subliminal thought is: 'Calm down ... it's only ones and zeros.'

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January 12, 2007 at 09:35:12

The correct DELL XP CD will come with the necessary drivers etc, you may need to purchase the CD from DELL!

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January 12, 2007 at 10:34:22

"The correct DELL XP CD will come with the necessary drivers"

correction, 'the correct dell xp cd' is just an ordinary xp oem installation disk featuring the dell label. 'necessary drivers come' on a so called 'dell resource cd'. drivers, however, can be downloaded from dell's support website.

Today's subliminal thought is: 'Calm down ... it's only ones and zeros.'

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Related Solutions

January 12, 2007 at 10:43:54

I don't have a Dell, but I think some don't come with disks, they have a recovery partition.
As for what to backup, apart from any documents, I save any updates to programs on a separate partition so if I have to re-install, I dont have to download them again.
Also, I would download the windows updates & save to disk, do a google for unofficial service pack 3.Or go to

Lastly, use the files & settings transfer wizard to at least save your settings to a folder & burn to disk.

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January 12, 2007 at 10:53:17

I indeed do not have any "Dell Discs" OR a "Windows XP" Disc. Like I said, this computer belonged to a friend and he gave it to my upon buying a new one, and was just given the computer as is. I am trying to contact him to see if he has any of the discs, but it isn't likely. I may have to rebuy some of these things. I do have a partition though. I'm assuming I can log into the partitioned drive (C:) and transfer everything back to a newly reformatted D: drive.

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January 12, 2007 at 11:06:26

1. locate your license key. if you don't have a sticker on the box, use magic jellybean.

2. to avoid re-activation after a re-installation, follow these instructions:

3. use ANY windows xp cd matching your OS version (i.e. xp home sp2) to install windows. the key will work.

4. forget steps 1-3 and get legal. to the best of my knowledge, dell never shipped pentium 3 based systems with windows xp. the pentium 4 cpu was introduced in november 2000, long before windows xp has been released to the general public (and oem pc builders).

Today's subliminal thought is: 'Calm down ... it's only ones and zeros.'

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January 12, 2007 at 16:20:31

Try hitting Ctrl+F11 upon booting the PC to see if it has the Dell Factory restore utility.


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January 12, 2007 at 19:21:14

Dell only recently started using install partitions on systems sold in the last 2 years. I spent a couple of years doing Dell support working for one of their support providers. I setup many systems and they all have one thing in common whether they are desktops or laptops. ALL DELL XP installs disks are OEM, They are not coded for the machine, only that they have the Dell coding for setup logo branding. All drivers are on a second CD that is labeled Drivers and Utilities. Without either one you can install using an OEM CD, not a Retail one unless you are using the Retail key. You can get all the hardware drivers by going to for each one. You might have to use a second machine to get one for the ethernet driver. Once you get the network card working you can get the rest of them.


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January 17, 2007 at 10:39:22

Unfortunately there is not Dell Factory restore utility. I have a Windows Xp OEM disc, however cannot find the drivers disc from dell. I have gone to their website, but am not sure what drivers to download (i'm kind of a noob and this). Also once I do have the drivers, what do I do with them, just burn them onto a disc and load them somehow once i've reinstalled windows? I just don't wanna end up with a lemon that i don't know what to do with if I reformat.

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