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Can't format Dell hard drive?


Mattroid's Avatar
Mattroid Mattroid is offline
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24-Jun-2006, 05:47 PM #1
Can't format Dell hard drive?
A buddy of mine has a friend who got tons of viruses/spyware on his computer (Dell desktop). He tried getting rid of everything and then when that didn't do much good, he tried doing a repair install - of course, that never works.

After that, he tried formatting the'd get to 99% done each time but couldn't finish. I'm not sure what the exact error was. I think he somehow got an option to reinstall windows at this point, though. So he did. All it did was install a second copy of windows xp and, while it works, the original intallation is still there with no easy way to get rid of it.

He also tried putting in a different hard drive and doing a clean install on there. It wouldn't have any of that! I think he said he got XP installed on that drive, but the computer won't boot without the old drive still there. As long as it's plugged in as well, it'll boot up. If not - no go. He tried messing with the jumpers and bios settings (boot order, etc), but couldn't get anything to fix it.

Now I assume that either some infection is causing this, or this is some kind of proprietary BS on Dell's part. Does anyone have any idea what he can do to get this computer formatted, xp installed clean, and working properly again?

If any more detail is needed, I'll try to give it. I've sent him the link to this thread, so if he wants, he can jump in with more info as well.

win2kpro's Avatar
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24-Jun-2006, 06:48 PM #2
Hard drives on a Dell are not manufacturer proprietary.

Go to the drive manufacturers website and download their zero fill utility (it will be listed as a low level format). Zero fill the drive (except for the recovery partition if there is a recovery partition) this will give him a totally clean drive. Boot the machine from the Dell re-installation disk, and it should find the drive as "new-unformatted". Let Windows format the disk, then install the operating system.

He should access BIOS and set the boot zequence to 1st floppy drive, 2nd CD-ROM and 3rd hard drive. If there is no floppy drive, set the 1st device as the CD-ROM.

About a third of the way through the installation he will get a message to "press enter" to boot from the CD. At this point DO NOT press enter and the machine will reboot itself.

After installation he will need to put in the Dell driver CD and reload the motherboard and other drivers, then he can reload his applications for the application CD.
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Location: Brisbane, Australia.
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24-Jun-2006, 08:06 PM #3
Good Morning Gentlemen, it is entirely possible that described problem is a drive with a bad cluster problem.
If any further problem is apparent try this shareware program called HDDRegenerator, it makes a nice little bootable CD or floppy that has a drive surface scanner which is really helpful for these kinds of problems.
It can be run over the top of existing systems without affecting the files on them.
It is a very useful little tool. A rerun may fix a second problem.
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