Dell Computer Quirk




Dell Computer Quirk - Information You Should Know


Something You Should Know

Having a Dell system I must say I am happy so far EXCEPT for one thing. You can't partition the hard drive. Well you can, but not easily and you would probably void the warranty. I probably hold the record of getting a new computer and crashing it completely on the second day, no windows, no safe mode, no anything, just a blinking cursor.

Fact is, Dell has two hidden partitions on the drives they sell with their systems. One is at the beginning and one is at the rear of the hard drive. One contains a Ghost type restore that puts everything back to the day you got your computer, thus losing everything you put on it. The second hidden partition is a diagnostic section that supposedly helps tech support find out your problems when you call them.

On boot, I have been told a sort of boot manager checks to see if the first partition is there, including the Ghost backup, and then it goes on to load Windows. If you partition the drive the normal way, and it messes with the hidden partition that holds the boot information, then your computer will no longer boot. Luckily I didn't mess with it any further before I called tech support or I could have wiped out the factory Ghost image and really messed things up.

So I have a 250g drive that I can't partition. I am not sure I like that, although in my case I have a server for a backup. Most people don't.

Of course you could wipe everything and put your own windows, etc. on and partition to your hearts content. But I am sure the warranty would expire suddenly if anything went wrong.

Some users have reported difficulty installing their own purchased versions of Windows because some drivers are tied into the Dell Motherboard and must be obtained from Dell. The forums would be a good avenue for further information.

Dell USB Only - Ends Boot Process

Newer Dell computers only have USB ports for keyboard and mouse. No PS2 connections whatsoever. Now USB has a lot of advantages with its quick plug 'n go quickness. As I have mentioned in my Computer Page, if Windows isn't working neither are the USB ports.

In my situation above, using some troubleshooting programs, I received the message "xxx file corrupt, press any key to continue" , but it couldn't be done because neither the keyboard or mouse would work. The only thing working was the power button.

Dell support will tell you that USB always works on their computers. That is only 50% true. It works if you get through the Dell boot process, but if that boot sequence fails you're done with no place to use a conventional keyboard or mouse, other than press F11 at the blue Dell prompt which starts the factory restore process and you lose everything else.

Dell - Easy Hard Drive Installation

To be fair Dell makes it very easy to install a second internal hard drive. Snap open their easy open case, lay the box on its side and slide out the blue bracket from the empty hard drive support. Insert your new drive into the blue bracket, slide it back into the drive support framework, plug in the power lead and the SATA cable. Run the other end of the SATA cable to the motherboard connection labeled SATA 1.

The Dell motherboard connections are very well labeled. On mine they did have the CD/DVD writer connected to SATA 1 (the original drive is connected to SATA 0 as it should be), so I moved it to the SATA 5 connection where it should be. Their manual says hard drives should be connected to the SATA 0 & 1 connections and DVDs to SATA 5 & 6, Connections are done.

Power up the computer and go to the bios configuration if it doesn't start up automatically. You will need to turn on the SATA connections in use that are not already on. The menu system is self explanatory and easy to understand. That's it. Your new second drive is ready for formatting and use.

Installation of a second drive and additional memory tool approximately 20 minutes.

(March 2008)



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