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kessa
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Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

Hi all,

This is my first post here so I hope this is the right area, and I'm really hoping someone can help!

I've got an XPS420 which is a couple of years old, and until recently, I've not had any problems with it.

However, a couple of months ago it started crashing whenever I played COD MW2. Initially this was just an occasional thing but it recently got to a stage it happened almost every time I used it, so I thought it was time to do something about it.

The crash took the form of: a) freezing, and b) displaying random various coloured pixels all over the screen, so initially I thought it may be a graphics card related issue.

As a result, I got in touch with NVidia (it's a GeForce 8800GT card), we checked the drivers were all up to date (bizarrely, the latest driver caused new problems so I reverted it back to the 2008 driver which always seemed to work OK previously - but that's a different story lol), and we updated to BIOS, but still no joy.

Also, I found that it wasn't always just COD which made it crash - sometimes I could just be using the PC itself and it would crash.

I then started looking further afield for a fix.

  1. I removed all unnecessary programs
  2. I checked I had all the latest windows updates etc
  3. Checked all of the drivers were the most recent (except the graphics driver which I'd already ruled out as it just made matters worse)
  4. Closed all background programs which boot at startup (except the Antivirus / Firewall)
  5. Made sure I didn't run any other programs at the same time as the game
  6. Ran a full virus / spyware scan
  7. Ran disk cleanup and defrag (but it's got a terrabite of storage with hardly anything on it so that wasnt likely to be an issue)
  8. and a few other things which I can't remember now

None of that seemed to work, so I'd heard it may have possibly been to the unit overheating so I took the case off to have a look:

  1. The fans were all working fine
  2. There was very minimal dust, and all of the vents were clear, so in theory, given it worked fine previously, there didn't seem to be anything new that may have been causing an issue. I gave it a clean up just in case though.

... and still no joy.

In the end, given that there was no definitive indicator (that I could see) of it being a certain component, I thought I'd try restoring it to the factory image as a last resort prior to getting Dell out to have a look at it (and getting a huge bill in the process)

... so, I used Dell's factory image restore..... or at least, I tried to. I got part way though the process, and it refused to run saying that the factory image (factory.wim) could not be found.

I went back into windows, and sure enough, I couldn't find it either on the C: or 😧 (backup) partitions. I found the restore tool, so tried to run it from within windows, and got the same error.

Following the instructions in the Dell handbook, it looked like the only other option was to try doing a fresh install using the OS CD which was supplied with the unit, so I gave that a shot.

However, all that seems to have now done is installed a mirror OS (I now have one called "Microsoft Windows Vista" and one called "Windows Vista"), and swicthed the partitions so that C is now the backup, and D is now the main drive. In addition, the old files are all still there so it hasn't addressed the issue either.

What I really need is a copy of the factory.wim files but having searched the Dell site, and even Google, I just haven't been able to find one anywhere.

Can anyone help? Is it possible to obtain a copy of the factory.wim file, and if so, does this need to know the exact spec of my PC, or is it a more general thing? (I dont know much about image files)

Thanks!
Kessa

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7 Replies
8 Krypton

Re: Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

There is no place to get a image as each image is for a specific machine.  you best option now would be to reinstall windows again first reformatting your drive. You do this at the start of the install. Also make sure you chose the correct partition. Once you get the OS installed you could then go ahead and reformat the D partion

 Home Built Sandy Bridge P8P67 i7 2600k @ 4.5 GHz 8gigs GSkill Ripjaws. Corsair 800D Case and AX1200 Ps X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty pro PCIe Sound Card
Dell Studio XPS 1645  Window 10 Pro

Forum member since 2003

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kessa
1 Nickel

Re: Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the reply.

That's a shame about the image but understandable I guess (I was hoping Dell may have offered some kind of online download service if you provided your service tag)

I've gone ahead with the reformat and reinstall on the C drive as you suggest so I'll see how that goes.

As I've not done a fresh OS install before, I have a couple of follow up questions I hope you may be able to help me with...

1) When I come to do the D drive, if I reformat it, I'll loose all of the "tools", etc which are currently on the backup partition.

Normally I'd aim to take a copy of this in advance, but this time around it has additional files from the previous attempt at doing the install. Do any of the discs which come with the PC contain a fresh set of data for the D drive that I can just copy across? If not, are the new files just limited to the "windows.old" folder? (if they are, I'll just delete that and leave the D drive as it is)

2) Re drivers:
On the OS install window (where it gives you the option to reformat the hard drive), I noticed an option to "Load Drivers". Is it best to reload drivers at this point, or can I just do them as normal once the OS has installed?

3) How close to the original factory install with this have got me (just out of interest)? How much of the "Drivers and utilities" CD to I need to install?
I'm thinking if its pretty close, I may try to get a fresh image somehow (I may need some advice on that when the time comes πŸ™‚ )

Thanks

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8 Krypton

Re: Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

Hi Kessa,

You can't make a copy of the utility partition, so just delete it. You can always use your drivers and utilities disc, or prepare a bootable flash drive to run the diagnostics.

I have not seen that "load drivers" option but I haven't performed a manual installation of Vista or 7. A clean installation should be as good as if not better than the Dell image. If you want an instruction set to follow, go to the manual reinstallation section of this page.

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8 Krypton

Re: Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

What version of windows are you installing?

#2 that option is if you need to load sata disk drive drivers. Normally under XP. No other drivers are loaded.

Since you have two copies of windows the files on the D drive are not needed. You could just delet the windows file but honestly like Osprey says just format it to and use the drives disk or Dell site to get your drivers.

 

 Home Built Sandy Bridge P8P67 i7 2600k @ 4.5 GHz 8gigs GSkill Ripjaws. Corsair 800D Case and AX1200 Ps X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty pro PCIe Sound Card
Dell Studio XPS 1645  Window 10 Pro

Forum member since 2003

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kessa
1 Nickel

Re: Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

Fab, thx both

Re: "what version are you installing?"

It's Vista (32bit version)

I've done the install but interestingly, my old install only had 23 folders in the Windows folder. The new install however has a whopping 52 folders! There's loads of folders I've never seen before.

Is this because Dell would have stripped loads of it out prior to shipping? 

Also, now that I've done the install, if I go to the Device Manager, I can see 3 errors:

1) BT mini-receiver
2) Ethernet Controller
3) SM Bus Controller

I didn't have these errors before (and I dont know what the BT mini-receiver is as we dont use them for broadband etc), and if I try to get th drivers it says "Windows could not find driver software for your device). Is it safe for me to try to delete these? Any idea why they've appeared?

Cheers 

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kessa
1 Nickel

Re: Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

Bump

 

Also, the full reinstall didn't solve the problem so it looks like it may be a graphics card or PSA problem. Trouble is, I dont know which, and even with the case off both seem to be running OK, as do the fans. I guess I'll have to bite the bullet, replace one of them, and hope it's the right one!

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kessa
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Re: Problem with XPS420 factory image & PC crashing

Update:

Decided to bite the bullet and get a new graphics card as pretty much everyone I'd spoken to said that was the most likely problem.

It used to crash after 30 mins of playing COD4 MW2 and an hour in all was going well.... but sadly, about an hour and 10 mins in the issue started to raise its head again. 😞

Interestingly, this time it didn't completely lock up the PC, and I had (very very very very slowly!) enough movement in the system too be able to exit the game to see if I could find any kind of error message.... nothing 😞

and when I say slowly, I mean slowly!
It took about 20minutes for it to "chug" enough times to finally exit the game. Small mouse moves would only go in about 2 inch movements before it would lock again for about 30 secs each time, and shutting down took several hours as it literally seemed to "chug" it's way through what it needed to do. "limping" would be the best way to describe it.

.... and then when I booted it back up, it said (on the boot screen) that one of the hard drives had an error ("Error Occurred (0)") - bizarrely though, when I ran Dell's full diagnostics tool it reported no errors with either hard drive so now I'm really confused.

Any thoughts?

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