This wiki is updated to pdf format here Windows Reinstallation Guide and several other wikies are combined into this pdf. The links below are less up to date.
If you are considering upgrading some parts in your computer see here before beginning the installation.
At this stage in time, if your computer can support Windows Vista then it will support Windows 7 and likely also Windows 8. I would recommend upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8 opposed to sticking with Windows Vista.
Details about installing Windows 8 can be found in my wiki Upgrading to Windows 8 via A Clean Install and at present an upgrade license is quite cheap.
For Windows 7 you will need to purchase an upgrade license from a store or online and should follow my wiki A Clean install of Windows 7.
It may be worthwhile installing Windows 7 using a retail .iso without a product key and assessing the performance of your system with the 30 day trial before purchasing a license. You should also look at the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.
If you plan on doing this check for Windows Vista/7/8 driver availability on the Drivers and Downloads Page. If there are no listed drivers then Windows 7 or Windows 8 might work without any additional drivers as both versions of Windows have a very wide native driver base. Alternatively there are some unofficial driver sets listed for Laptops and for Desktops.
Windows XP Support will be terminated by Microsoft in April 2014... for more details see Windows XP Support End of Sales.
An external hard drive is a great device to back ones data up on. Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos in particular. A standard user should make regular back ups in case of hard drive failure.
If you decide to skip Step 1 then ensure that you don't carry out Step 7 or format/delete the partition in step 8. Carry out Step 15 to recover your data.
I recommend carrying out Step 1 in all cases and formatting the drive.
Belarc Advisor will obtain details about your system. It is free for home use and gives you a print out of your computers hardware and software. It also gives you your product keys. This is particularly useful for obtaining your Windows XP and Microsoft Office product keys. It is handy to keep a print out of this data. CutePDF Writer may be used to create a pdf print out of it. Save this in a folder in the external harddrive e.g. called Computer Software.
Hopefully you already have the Dell XP reinstallation disc which should look like one of these:
Dell are currently shipping out most of their systems without reinstallation DVDs. For US customers there is an online request form for Reinstallation Media. For those customers not in the US you will need to contact Dell technical support and ask for one. The customer numbers are available here. This is the most recommended route.
To improve the experience for customers from the rest of the world. Please vote on my idea Request a Reinstallation DVD form [Rest of the World]. Also see my poll here.
As XP is being phased out and most systems with Windows XP won't have any warranty left. The best place to actually get a Dell XP Disc is actually eBay. Try and get one that includes XP Service Pack 3. Here you need to make sure the disc that you get matches the COA on the base of your system. i.e. if the sticker on your system says XP Home Edition, use an XP Home Edition disc; if it says XP Professional Edition use an XP Professional Edition Disc.
If you don't have a disc and have a friend who has a Dell XP Reinstallation disc of the same version; you may make a duplicate or more up to date disc by copying their disc and following the instructions in my wiki nlite: Make an Up to Date XP Reinstallation Disc. Follow these instructions also if you require to slipstream SATA drivers.
I recommend installing Microsoft Security Essentials with the latest definition immediately after the Service Packs and Internet Explorer 8 to ensure your system is protected upon first connection to the internet. I have found significant performance boosts by installing the Service Packs before any additional drivers.
Note Service Pack 2 is cumultive, there is no need to look for and install Service Pack 1.
Download and save the files to an external hard drive.
* Optional but recommended.
Go to the Dell Support page and select Drivers and Downloads. Select your model and Operating system.
Avoid inputting the Service Tag as its not working correctly for many systems and omitts critical drivers.
Once the model is selected you need to select the correct OS:
Once you have selected Windows XP look at the categories
Click the category to expand it e.g. we will take the video one
Click download file, this will take you to this page
Do not select Download Manager it is generally problematic.
Instead select single-file download and press next. If you get the following error message:
Press back on the browser.
In the address bar check the URL. For example:
Change the last false to true.
Then press [Enter]. The page will refresh and look identical to before
This time select Single-File download and it should now work. Once done press back several times to return here:
Ensure it looks the same as before (number of categories and number of drivers under each category), if not change the OS to BIOS and back to Windows XP. I find in several cases drivers disappear.
I recommend saving each driver in an appropriately labelled folder and adding a numeric prefix to the folder (See Step 5c for more details about the recommended driver install order). This will ensure that you install the drivers in the recommended order. e.g. here are the drivers I downloaded for a Latitude E6520:
Dell Drivers and Downloads Page is currently under maintenance so post here if you experience some issues downloading the drivers.
If having problems with Dell Drivers and Downloads get them from the Dell FTP Website instead (Step 5b).
I recommend using the Dell FTP Step 5b for XP systems as Dell are likely to address recent issues they created with the Drivers and Downloads page for these older systems.
If you have obtained all the drivers from Step 5a then proceed to Step 5c. The Drivers may also be found on the Dell ftp website. The Dell FTP website has direct links and tends to be less buggy than the drivers and downloads page but the downside is that it isn't updated as frequently which is no worry for Windows XP as Drivers are unlikely to be updated any more. Look here if you are having issues with the Drivers and Downloads page also note that sometimes the Dell FTP website has drivers for additional operating Systems
The Dell FTP Website has all versions of each driver released by Dell for a particular model. Select your type and then model number. We will take the Inspiron 1501 laptop and install Windows XP for example.
On the Dell ftp website the user should generally ignore Legacy Drivers but its sometimes worth checking especially if the user is looking to install an unsupported Operating System.
The Dell FTP Website has all versions of each driver released by Dell for a particular model. The user should download only the correct drivers for their system.
However ensure that the OS you wish to install is under the supported OS in this case we would want revision A07 for Windows XP and not revision A08 for Windows Vista 32 bit.
Finally one thing to note is that certain categories, in particular Network (Wireless Card) and Video (Graphics Card) were customisable and have several variants, you must select the correct ones for your system.
Downloading from the ftp website is faster but designed for advanced users. However due to the sorry state of the drivers and downloads page I recommend all users to use the ftp website. Pay attention to driver install order (Step 5c).
All the drivers should be downloaded and saved to a USB stick. The way this guide is intended Steps 1-6 are preparation for installing Windows so the user has everything they need when installing Windows. This is why Step 5 (downloading drivers) and Step 10 (installing drivers) are independent.
If however the user has already attempted to install Windows likely they won't be able to access the internet to get the drivers and will need to use a working system to download them.
When downloading drivers for a clean install I recommend using the same folder structure as me to prevent confusion and to ensure that you install all the drivers in the correct order. Although this guide is based on installing/reinstalling Windows Vista on laptops, installation on Dell desktops will be very similar. Naturally some of these drivers/applications such as Dell Quickset for power/mobility are designed for Laptops only and are thus not needed for Desktops.
• 1. Dell System (Notebook/Desktop) Software - Under System Utilities.
See here for more information about Dell Desktop Software.
• 2. Chipset Drivers (Intel then Ricoh/Realtek/Any other ones) - Under Chipset.
• 3. Intel Matrix Storage Manager/Intel Rapid Storage Technology - Under SATA Drives and/or CPU
Not all systems will have this. Note there are the drivers and the applications. The applications should increase system performance. If a full installer isn't present then it is likely the preinstallation drivers (see Step 6).
• 4. Video Driver - Under Video.
Generally there are several variants for Video Driver e.g. Intel/ATI(AMD)/nVidea and different variants of ATI(AMD) and nVidea. Ignore any for TV tuners at this moment.
Some of the newer laptops have switchable graphics and require the Intel driver to be installed first then the corresponding nVidea/ATI video driver for full performance. There may be a few variants of graphics cards for a laptop and you must select the correct ones.
In desktops if there is no dedicated graphics card in the card slot, then they have the onboard (generally Intel driver).
In desktop if there is a dedicated graphics card in the card slot then generally it is the ATI(AMD) or nVidea driver). Generally there are several variants of graphics card per desktop model and you need to pick the correct one.The latest driver from the ATI/nVidea websites generally offers more functionality.
• 5. Conexant Drivers - Under Communications
• 6. Network Ethernet Driver - Under Network
This usually mentions Ethernet/LAN/Broadcom/Realtek in the description. Sometimes Intel, Atheros but the later two can be the wireless card.
• 7. Wireless Card - Under Network
Not present for all Desktops but most that come with Windows Vista or later will have a wireless card included. There are generally several variants of Wireless Cards and you will need to pick the correct one. For some newer systems the wireless and bluetooth card are one and the same.
• 8. Touchpad (usually mentions Synaptics or Alps) - Input
Generally for laptops only. There may be additional drivers if you purchased a non-standard keyboard for a desktop e.g. a wireless or bluetooth keyboard.
• 9. Audio - Under Audio
Ensure you install any drivers before Audio Applications. Generally the drivers have the name SigmaTel/IDT/Realtek. Again pick the correct one for your system, there is generally not that many variants in the Audio. This is for the standard onboard Audio which 90 % of the systems use. For the other 10 % usually the higher end systems a Creative Soundblaster may be installed. This is a dedicated soundcard. There will be a driver available but you may be able to get a later driver from the Creative Website. There is sometimes also Creative Applications available for the onboard Audio.
• 10. TV Tuners/Other Video (If applicable) - Under Video
Many systems don't have these and are only added via customisation.
• 11. Bluetooth (If applicable) - Under Network.
For some newer systems the wireless and bluetooth card are one and the same and the driver will be installed alongside the wireless driver.
• 12. Dell Quickset or Dell ControlPoint - Under Applications
This is for the power settings and Fn keys. Usually this is for laptops only. These include the onscreen volume/brighness meters.
• 13. Webcam Driver found - Under Input
Most desktops won't have a webcam driver or will use a dedicated Logitech or Creative webcam which can be downloaded from the perspective vendors. Note for desktop systems with a webcam integrated into the monitor, the webcam driver may be found bundled with the monitor driver. Installation of the monitor driver will install the webcam.
• 14. Mobile Broadband Drivers - under Communications
Most users don't have these but the drivers are there for users that do.
These are the main drivers and I have tried to give a basic guide to cover all systems. There will of course be some other variants from model to model and customisations within the same model such as mobile broadband cards, TV tuners and other drivers depending on your systems configuration. There may also be security drivers for Latitude and Optiplex series. The check for any missing drivers is via the Device Manager (Step 12) and you should post on the Microsoft OS forum if you run into problems there.
There are a number of other drivers such as the CD/DVD firmware. These can be updated if you wish but I would recommend leaving these well alone. Sometimes if these updates go wrong, things seriously break. If you have no problems with any of these devices then leave them be. You may look through Applications to see if you find anything else useful.
The BIOs can also be updated (see Step 17 for further information).
Note for Windows XP it is generally better to slipstream the SATA drivers using nlite (see here) opposed to using a floppy Disk as floppy disks are obsolete.
Step 7a is for advanced users, most regular users should skip it. However for users that are planning on selling/giving away their system or reinstalling due to a viral/malware infection this step is highly recommended as it permanently erases data and is more through than the standards Windows format.
Before using DBAN any card readers need to be disabled in the BIOs setup. For instructions on how to do this see Card Reader BIOS settings A or Card Reader BIOS Settings B depending on your BIOS. Not all systems have card readers.
Remove any USB devices in particular external hard drives! which you don't want to securely erase.
Insert the DBAN CD/DVD or USB and power down your system. Press F12 at the Dell BIOs screen and select boot from CD/DVD or from USB respectively.
DBAN will then load
The easiest way to use DBAN is by typing autonuke and then pressing enter.
You should get these two screens
DBAN will then begin to securely format your hard drive. Note DBAN can take a very long time to securely format a large capacity hard drive.
When completed you should get a screen like this. Hopefully it will say DBAN succeeded although sometimes it mentions an error. Most of the times that it has mentioned an error to me it has actually fully formatted the drive and ran for the same length of time as it should (i.e. the same time for a system of the same model where no error cropped up).
Once the DBAN format is done, re-enable any card reader within the BIOs setup.
Note using DBAN may sometimes cause some issues with product activation using upgrade product keys as the original version of Windows is not there.
To get around this reinstall the old operating system, activate it and then proceed with the clean install of Windows XP.
This step is only for systems shipped with Media Direct. These systems will have a MediaDirect button in close proximty to the power button as shown below. If your system doesn't have this button skip this step.
Media Direct is for selected systems such as the Inspiron 6000, 6400, 9300, 9400, E1505, E1705, XPS Gen 2, XPS M170, M1270, M1710, M2010.
The partitions for Media Direct must be set up before the installation of Microsoft Windows otherwise pressing the Media Direct Button while the system is powered down can corrupt your Operating System.
Insert the Media Direct DVD supplied with your system. It should look like the following:
Power down your computer. Hold F12 while powering up your computer (at the Dell BIOs screen).
Select boot from CD/DVD. Select option 1 (recommended) or option 2. (if you want 2 partitions).
Note: The application must be installed after the system drivers while on the Windows Desktop (Step 14a).
Insert the DVD you have created (or have) or the bootable USB flash stick. Power down your computer. Hold F12 while powering up your computer (at the Dell BIOs screen).
Select boot from CD/DVD or from USB respectively.
Press any key when prompted such as "h" when it says Press any Key to boot from CD/DVD.
This will begin the Windows setup. The first screen of the setup will prompt you to press F6 if you are needing to install a SATA driver from a floppy diskette. This screen flashes in a couple of seconds, if you miss it you will have to press F3 (2 screens down) and start again.
This screen also quickly flashes, you can just ignore it.
When you get this screen press Enter, you do not want to repair.
You then get the EULA, read it and then press F8 to agree and continue with the setup.
This will take you to this screen.
Press esc and continue with a clean install.
The next screen is important. Here you may create a partition, or delete any existing partitions. The way you do this is optional. I am just going to select the largest partition and select Enter.
This warning comes up but I just press c.
Then I select format the partition with the NTFS system (use NTFS and not FAT).
You will get a warning, press f to continue with the format.
Once it is formatted Windows will begin to copy files to the partition.
The setup will copy all the files and then reboot the computer. The computer will restart and the setup will continue.
You will be asked to input your Regional and Language options (American is usually default).
Select customise and change to your own preferences (I have selected U.K.).
Click OK and then select details to ensure the keyboard is also set to as your desired.
Select the correct one from your list.
Select OK and finally change the top from US to your personal preference (or the American Keyboard layout will still selected).
Enter the computer name and administrator password (optional).
Select time zone, again mines is set to the U.K.
You will then be asked for network settings, choose typical unless you want to configure everything yourself.
Choose a Workgroup, just make one up of your own and put all your home computers on it or choose a Domain if you have a large organisation.
Wait for the setup to finish.
Click okay to change the screen resolution.
Select OK again.
Don't worry if it looks bad, likely the Video drivers aren't installed yet. The setup is almost finished.
Here the Welcome to Windows XP Theme starts playing (unfortunately most people don't hear it as the sound drivers aren't installed at this point...). Click next.
You will be asked for network settings, most people won't have their network drivers isntalled so i recommend just selecting skip.
Register with Microsoft if you wish.
Enter all the usernames and then select next.
This takes you to the final screen of the setup. Click Finish.
Note for non-Dell Media you will likely have to input a product key. For Dell media this and activation should be sorted out automatically in the BIOs.
Note for XP Media Centre Edition there will be a few additional steps, it will install the Media Centre Edition programs, you shouldn't touch your computer at this point.
It often works out better installing the latest Service Pack and Internet Explorer before installing the system drivers (Downloaded at Step. 4). It prevents a great deal of problems with Windows Update.
The Installation of Microsoft .net Framework is also recommended as often the system drivers (in particularly some of the older ATI Video drivers) require this.
You should have downloaded the files onto a USB stick at Step 4 that your OS CD/DVD didn't include and have them readily accessible on a USB stick or External Harddrive.
Insert the USB stick and run the .exe installers.
Ensure you keep to the order listed above for best results. You should again have downloaded these at Step 4 and have them readily accessible on a USB stick or External Harddrive.
Running the .exe file Rxxxxxx should extract the driver to C:\Dell\Drivers\Rxxxxxx and then run the installer automatically.
Newer systems no location adopt the R# notation but should still extract to C:\Dell\Drivers\"Subfolder" where "Subfolder" is variable. For some older systems the drivers will have individual instructions which you will need to follow.
Unfortunately often no installer runs and the file just extracts. To actually install the driver you will need to navigate to the folder where the driver extracted to and run any setup.exe files. Many users think they have installed the driver when they haven't.
We will take for example R114079 the chipset driver for my Latitude D820. Double click the downloaded .exe file.
Select Ok. At this stage the setup should start and you should follow through with the installation. If it does not the driver is not installed. Most installers automatically run; in the case of those that don't one would have to go to C:\Dell\Drivers\R114079 (you will have to go to the number of your driver) and click setup.
Follow through with the setup.
Usually a series of clicking next, next, finish and then rebooting.
You will get a prompt if you need to activate. If using a Dell disc on a Dell system in the method described above, then this shouldn't happen.
Press the [Windows] and [Pause|Break] or go to start, right click computer and click properties.
Select the hardware tab and then click on device manager.
If you have an error, you likely have not installed a system driver and should quickly check that you haven't missed downloading or installing something.
Right click the device with the error and select properties. Go to the driver tab and select Hardware IDs. If you wish you can check the Windows Update Catalogue with this information. In order to help us assist you with driver issues on the forums, start a new post in the Microsoft OS forum, include the above information alongside the model of Dell and the Operating System.
Note restart your computer after installing all the drivers and then recheck for an error.
For Security I recommend use of Microsoft Security Essentials (I have mentioned installing this at step 4 of the wiki) and Malwarebytes' Antimalware. I also recommend installation of WIndows Firewall Control.
However this is an area where almost everyone has a different opinion/their own favourites. So I am not going to argue or force my opinion here. Just ensure that you install a security suite that you trust. If you have any queries with regards to security software then I recommend you to post a new topic in the Virus & Spyware Discussion Forum.
The full version of Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010 may be found in my Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office Downloads wiki.
Microsoft Office 2003 is not downloadable and you should have a separate installation CD and Product Key for it.
For Office 2010 use your product key obtained by Belarc advisor (Step 1.) and/or found with the Microsoft Product Identification card on your system with the correct installer. For more details about the Microsoft Product Identification Card see here.
Microsoft Office will require a product key, you will need to purchase one if you don't have one. Microsoft Works does not require any product key.
If you don't have a Microsoft Office license you should use Microsoft Office Web Apps which has tight integration with SkyDrive and the same functionality or slightly more than Office 2010 Starter.
Microsoft Mathematics may also be installed, this is essentially a free graphics calculator for Microsoft Windows.
Useful third party additions for the full versions of Microsoft Office are Mendeley Desktop Reference Manager and Mathtype both have free and paid versions. The free versions should suffice most users.
Users may also install Windows Live Essentials Suite.
To install the Royale (Media Centre Edition energy blue theme) and Royale Noir (black theme) on any version of Windows XP. Follow the instructions here.
Skip Step 14a if your system doesn't have Media Direct. For the systems with Dell Media Direct, once on the windows desktop, insert the media direct disc It should autorun, install the application, if it doesn't you should navigate to the WindowsMD3 folder and click setup.exe. Use the updater within Media Direct to get it to the latest version.
For some unknown reason Dell does not provide Dell Webcam Software under the drivers and downloads page for most systems. Here is the download link Dell Webcam Software R230103. You may wish to download the latest version of Skype before installing the webcam driver. Note for newer systems Dell Webcam Central may be supplied in My Dell Downloads (Step 14e).
Dell Support Centre may be downloaded and installed from here. It only works on home systems and does not work on Precision, Latitude or Optiplex systems. It may not be compatible with very old Windows XP systems.
Dell Dock is also not provided on the drivers and downloads page. Here is the download link Dell Dock.
Copy the files from your external hard drive backup to my documents, my pictures and my videos.
Go to Start>All Programs> Windows Update
Select download and install now.
You will now install Microsoft Update, select close when done.
Select Software optional and review any optional updates you wish to install.
Select install now to the left, this will take you to the review and install updates. Select Install Updates at the top of this list.
The updates will download and install, you will be prompted to restart your computer.
Close any open programs and select restart now. The computer will restart.
Visit Windows Update again to check if there are any more updates. Some more may be listed that required the previous updates to be correctly installed. You may need to do this 2 or 3 times. It will tell you when Windows is up to date.
Dell recommend updating the BIOS to the latest version as there are often enhancements/fixes in the updates.
Know the risks however caution should be taken when updating the BIOS as a failed BIOs = a dead system. Therefore many users opt to stay clear of BIOS updates completely. I personally tend to update the BIOs if available after a clean install.
When you power up your Dell system, you will get the Dell BIOS screen:
On this screen is the model number and the BIOS revision. The BIOs revision typically this of either 2 formats:
• Axx, i.e. A01, A02, ..., A12 etc.
• x.x.xx, i.e. 1.0.0, 1.0.3, 1.1.2, 1.1.4, 1.1.10, 1.1.11 etc.
The higher the number the later the revision.
To reduce the probably of fatal BIOS updates save the BIOS update file to the desktop and close down all programs.
Remove any USB device from your computer except for keyboard and mouse and also remove any CD/DVDs and media cards. Restart computer.
Then double click the file and run it as an administrator. Don't touch the computer until the BIOS update is complete. It should automatically log you off, update the BIOs and restart the computer.
Don't power down the computer during the BIOs update as this will ensure your system is rendered completely useless. Ensure both the battery is at full charge and the AC adaptor is plugged in when updating the BIOs on a laptop.
For those that are using 2 monitors I recommend downloading and installing Actual Windows Manager or Actual Multiple Monitors. This will give you a taskbar on each monitor completing your Windows experience.
Note you get a 30 day free trial of each product; for the Actual Multiple Monitors after 30 days this will revert to the free version (its worth having around)
The professional version is of course better and I recommend using it or Actual Windows Manager. See here for a comparison between the professional and free version. I wrote a small wiki on their software here (it needs updated however).
Actual Windows Manager or Actual Multiple Monitors (Professional Version) will give Windows XP AeroSnap capabilities.
For more software recommendations look to the bottom of my Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office Downloads wiki.
I advise you to pay attention when installing any third party software (non-Dell/non-Microsoft). When you can select the advanced setup. Software is often bundled with toolbars, search provider defaults, browsers and/or other programs. The larger software vendors e.g. Ask, Google, Bing (microsoft) pay for bundling their toolbars within the installer. Thus the cost of the software can be made lower or distributed for free in some cases. The advanced setup allows users to disable installation of these toolbars and other programs which they don't want.
>70 % of Internet Explorer crashes are due to these toolbars. For Internet Explorer 9 see:
Other browsers which you may also install for free are:
Note some things work better in Internet Explorer than in the other browsers e.g. SkyDrive and Microsoft Office Web Apps likewise YouTube (especially with the adblock), Google Docs and Google services will work better in Google Chrome. Firefox has a variety of third party extensions. You can of course use all three and switch between them for individual tasks.
In the case of Windows XP, Internet Explorer 8 will be outdated compared to Firefox and Google Chrome. Microsoft are beginning to phase out support for Windows XP and finally will ditch all support completely in 2014.
That's everything done, you should have a fully functional system with peak performance.☺
Any ideas/suggestions for improvements are always welcome. Please leave these in the comments below.
If you are experiencing any further problems, post on the correct forum (ensure that you provide basic information such as what Operating System you are trying to install or have installed e.g. Windows XP 32 bit and the model of the Dell e.g. Dell Latitude D630).
Feedback for these wikies and your overall forum experience is welcome in the Has the Forum Helped You? thread.