1 Copper

Reformatting a Dimension 4550

I am having a problem reformatting a Dell Dimension 4550.  My friend got this
PC about 2 years ago, and unfortunately, he is not computer literate at all. 
He had the entire McAfee Security suite on it, but did not have it activated
and working.  He thought that it was on there, so it was OK.  Well, his PC
completely froze up a few weeks ago, and he called me.  I did a quick virus
scan and ran Ewido on it.  I got over 600 spyware, malware, key loggers, and
hijackers and 59 viruses.  WOW, no wonder it wouldn't work.  I got all but 1
pest out, and it had changed a bunch of registry values, and a quick INET
search revealed that the 1 pest that was left was an active desktop hijacker
that is used the steal credit card numbers.  Needless to say, I need to
ensure that there are no registry changes that will point right back to this

Another unfortunate event is that it is a Dell, and their restore disks are
terrible.  There is no boot disk at all or a system restore disk of any kind.
I have all the driver disks, the OS disk, and an application disk.  I

So, that is where I am stuck.  I cannot reload the OS without a bootable
restore disk because the OS disk won't boot.  I really need to reformat this
disk to ensure that I get everything out.  Just re-installing Windows is not
going to solve the problem. 

I am stuck, and I have been working on this thing for 2 days.  If Dell would
just use restore disk images like all the other vendors, these people could
have fixed this themselves. 

Any help is appreciated.  Thanks.
0 Kudos
5 Replies
1 Copper

Re: Reformatting a Dimension 4550

I forgot to add that I have been working on this PC for 2 days.  A process that should have only taken 2 hours has taken 2 days because of the lack of Dell providing a simple system restore image.

I have tried making the CD ROM first in boot sequence.

I have downloaded and tried the boot disks, and making A:\ first in boot sequence.

I have spent about 2 hours on the phone with various tech people from Dell, none of which could answer my question.

1 simple question - How do I get this PC to boot to DOS so that I can run fdisk, delete C:\, create a new partition, format and install the OS on the newly created partition.  1 simple task that is used by myself daily on a multitude of PCs.  Why does it not work on Dell the way it works on every other PC that I've ever worked on?

If anyone can please assist me, I would GREATLY appreciate it.

0 Kudos
8 Platinum

Re: Reformatting a Dimension 4550


You do not require an F'disk to partition and format the hard drive, this part of reinstalling the XP operating system.

 First, you make the CD/ROM/DVD the first boot device.   How to configure a Dimension series system to boot to the CD/DVD drive.

Then you can use the following instructions.
To find the Dell reinstall guide, that's specific to your system, go here
Prior to installing, remember to disconnect all external peripherals from the computer, except the keyboard, monitor and mouse. 
While installing, delete all existing partitions (Paragraph 5) when you are prompted, then remake and format
them (Paragraphs 6 & 7), followed by installing XP.
You will have to reload the drivers and applications, etc, that should be on the CDs sent with the computer, starting with the chipset driver.
After the installation, you will need to download and install the MicroSoft Critical Updates, plus any
other updates you deem necessary, also remember to enable the firewall before going online.

 Printing a copy of these instructions, as a reference while installing XP could also be a help.


If my answer was helpful, please click: Kudos
Forum Member since 2001
I am not employed by Dell

0 Kudos
1 Copper

Re: Reformatting a Dimension 4550

Bev, I have tried all of this.  I have the CD Rom as first in boot sequence, I have the OS installation CD, but it will not reload from the CD.  It will not load from the CD using a boot disk in A.  I ran the device diagnostice, and everything was working fine.  The CD rom works fine, the DVD rom works fine, the A drive works fine.  Everything works fine, it just will NOT boot from the CD and allow me to reformat the C:\ partition.  I have tried going into setup and resetting the BIOS to factory default, but there is no option to do so.  Someone at MS forum told me to try f9 to see if that would restore factory default BIOS, and it did nothing.  I have tried almost everything.  I am so disgusted with Dell after being on the phone with them, that I will never recommend anyone purchase one, and I get a lot of people who ask me my opinion about stuff before they purchase.  This is TOTALLY absurd that one must go through this type of treatment and torment to have a piece of machinery that you purchased from them operate correctly.  When you pay $$$ for something, you expect that it would be quality, and that it and whatever goes with it should operate correctly.  I have had it with this computer and with DELL's lack of concern for their customers.  I get all of these people coming to me asking for help, because DELL won't help them.

0 Kudos
7 Plutonium

Re: Reformatting a Dimension 4550


I understand your frustration, but getting mad at Dell won't reload the OS in that system. Sounds like at least a couple problems may be attributed to the "user end of the keyboard".

You mentioned that you have a CD-ROM and a DVD-ROM. The XP disc must be loaded from the master device. This is almost always the top drive. So set the system to boot from the IDE CD-ROM device, then put the XP disc in the top drive, save and exit.

If that doesn't work, post back.

0 Kudos
5 Tungsten

Re: Reformatting a Dimension 4550

Also . . when XP boots from the right drive, you will see a black screen with a prompt "Press any key to boot from CD" . . do that and you will be able to delete partitions and recreate the ones you want and proceed to formating and installing XP.
That message can pass quickly, so have a finger on the keyboard when you boot.  This will delete all data on the drive so be sure you have your important data backed up.
Good Luck . . wrs

0 Kudos