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How to create and use the Dell Recovery and Restore USB drive

Summary: These instructions show you how to create the Dell Recovery and Restore USB drive and then how to use the drive to restore the operating system on a nonworking computer or tablet.

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Symptoms

Cause

Step 1: Create the Dell Recovery and Restore USB drive on your working computer.

Before you begin.

Note: The Dell Recovery and Restore USB tool is for Windows operating systems only. For Linux operating system reinstallation, use the Dell Linux Recovery Image to restore your operating system to factory condition.

To begin the process to create a Dell Recovery and Restore USB drive, download the Dell Recovery Restore software from the following link: Dell Recovery & Restore. Installing the Dell Recovery & Restore software on your USB drive will reformat the drive and erase your existing data. Please back up any files or data that is saved on your USB.

Install the Dell Recovery & Restore software on your working computer.

  1. Once the file is downloaded to your browser taskbar or Downloads folder, you must extract the .zip file. To do this, browse the download location, right-click the file and select Extract All.
    Note: If the file will not extract correctly, the download may be corrupted or does not have the correct file extension. Change the file to a .zip file type and then attempt to extract the files.
  2. Click or run the Dell Direct Key or setup.exe file to launch the installer. The Dell Recovery & Restore installation wizard will appear on the screen.
  3. On the Dell Recovery & Restore installation wizard, click Next and then click Install.
  4. When the installation wizard is complete, click Finish.

Open Dell Recovery & Restore to transfer the software to your USB drive

  1. On your desktop, click the Dell Key Creator icon SLN298442_en_US__3direct-key-icon3to open the application.
  2. Connect a 16 GB or larger USB drive to any available USB port.
  3. On the Dell Recovery & Restore application window, select the USB drive as the media that you would like to use. The software should detect the USB drive. If it is not detected, click the Refresh icon next to the drop-down box.
  4. Click Start to transfer the Dell Recovery & Restore software on to your USB.
  5. If a dialog box about formatting a disk appears, please ignore the message and close it by clicking the X in the upper-right corner.
  6. When the process is completed, you will see an "Operation done" message. Click OK.

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Step 2: Start, or boot, the nonworking computer from the Dell Recovery & Restore USB drive

For Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

Note: Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 includes a security feature that is called Secure Boot that ensure your computer starts up with trusted software only. To give your computer permission to start up with the Dell Recovery & Restore USB drive, Secure Boot must be disabled temporarily. When the recovery process is finished, follow the instructions to reenable Secure Boot.
To disable Secure Boot
  1. Turn on or restart the computer that you are repairing.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, tap F2 on the keyboard several times to open the UEFI menu. Or, from Windows, hold the Shift key while selecting Restart. Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options: UEFI Firmware Settings.
  3. Using the arrow keys, browse the Boot tab of the UEFI menu.
  4. Next select Secure Boot and press Enter, and then use the + or - key to change the status to Disabled and press Enter. If you are prompted to allow the changes, select Yes.
  5. Select the Boot List Option and press Enter, and then on the options menu, select Legacy and press Enter.
  6. Connect the USB drive with Dell Recovery & Restore to any available USB port.
  7. Use the arrow keys to browse the Exit tab of the System Setup window. Then select Save and Exit. Your computer will automatically restart.
To boot from Dell Recovery & Repair USB drive
  1. When the Dell logo appears, tap F12 on the keyboard several times to enter the computer setup screen.
  2. Select the USB storage device and press Enter.
  3. The personal computer will start the Dell Recovery & Restore software on your USB drive.
  4. On the Recovery & Restore window, select your preferred language for the application.
  5. Read and accept the license terms and agreement and then click Continue.

For Windows 7

  1. Turn off the computer that you are repairing.
  2. Connect the USB drive with Dell Recovery & Restore to any available USB port.
  3. Turn on the computer.
  4. When the Dell logo appears, tap F12 on the keyboard several times to enter the computer setup screen.
  5. Using the arrow keys, select USB Storage Device and press Enter. The personal computer will start the Dell Recovery & Restore software on your USB drive.
  6. On the Recovery & Restore window, select your preferred language for the application.
  7. Read and accept the license terms and agreement and then click Continue.

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Step 3: Dell Recovery & Restore will guide you through the repair, restore, or reinstall options.

Video - Restore Your Computer With a Dell Windows 8 or Windows 10 USB Restore Key

Note: Key in the Cloud will not download any operating system image, and will not work for restoration with a blank hard drive. Features of Key in The Cloud are listed below:
60-sec scan of the hard drive SMART software repair (The smart repair feature can be used to resolve the following issue)  
MBR (Main Boot Record)
Issue BCD (Boot Configuration Data)
Issue Partition issue
Data back up process
Trigger image restore process from the hidden partition

Smart Repair

Smart Repair automatically checks and tries to repair the most common and basic Windows startup issues:

  • Main Boot Record issues
  • Boot Configuration Data issues
  • Partition table issues
  • File computer errors on the hard disk drive.

If Smart Repair can find and fix the issue, you will see a summary screen and then be prompted to exit the Dell Recovery & Restore application and restart your computer. Your data has not been touched and there is no risk of data loss.

If Smart Repair is unable to fix the issue, then Dell Recovery & Repair will continue to the next step in the process.

Data and User-Setting Backup

Dell Recovery & Repair will prompt you to continue to reinstall your Operating System. When you click "Continue," the Backup screen appears and gives you the option to back up your personal files and settings.

Note: We highly recommend that you back up your data. If you click "Skip," then you will lose all your data and settings when Windows is reinstalled.

Your backup options are:

  • Default Backup. Clicking Continue will back up everything that is saved under the My Computer folder (example: My Documents, My Music, My Video, My Pictures).
  • Customized Backup. Clicking Select More will open the Customized Backup screen. This option allows you to select the individual files you want to back up.
  • No Backup. Clicking Skip will cancel the backup. Your personal files and settings will be lost.

After selecting the backup option of your choice, you will either be prompted to connect an external hard drive and/or continue to the next step in the process.

Image Recovery and Reinstall

  • Once the backup is completed, Dell Recovery & Restore will perform the image recovery using the existing hidden computer image on your computer.
  • When the image restore is completed, your computer will restart a couple of times and you will be prompted to disconnect and reconnect the external hard drive until the backup is complete.
  • When the entire process is complete, Windows will start normally and the desktop will display.
  • The Dell Recovery & Restore application window will open. When prompted, click the Restart button.
  • After the computer restarts, Dell Recovery & Restore application will prompt you to connect the external hard drive (if you chose to back up your data) and then click Continue.
  • Once the operating system is finished reinstalling, you will be prompted to restart your computer one more time to finalize the installation. Click the Restart button.
  • If you are operating system is Windows 8.1, be sure to complete step 4 to reenable Secure Boot.

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Step 4: Reenable Secure Boot on your restored computer (Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 only)

  1. Restart your restored computer.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, tap F2 on the keyboard several times to open the UEFI menu. Or, from Windows, hold the Shift key while selecting Restart. Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options: UEFI Firmware Settings.
  3. Using the arrow keys, browse the Boot tab of the UEFI menu.
  4. Next select Secure Boot and press Enter, and then use the + or - key to change the status to Enabled and press Enter. If you are prompted to allow the changes, select Yes.
  5. Select the Boot List Option and press Enter, and then on the options menu, select UEFI and press Enter.

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Useful links

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Resolution


Out of Warranty support Out of warranty? No problem. Browse to the Dell.com/support website and enter your Dell Service Tag and view our offers.

NOTE: Offers are only available for US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, China, and Japan personal computer customers. Server and Storage not applicable.

Article Properties


Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Alienware, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Laptops, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired Models, Workstations, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations

Last Published Date

17 Jun 2021

Version

8

Article Type

Solution