Installing FD-ISR on a Dell Windows 7 PC

Discussion in 'FirstDefense-ISR Forum' started by Karen76, Oct 18, 2012.

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  1. Karen76

    Karen76 Registered Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    Last week, I purchased my first (and likely last) Dell PC; an XPS 8500. When I attempted to follow pandlouk’s instructions on how to install FD-ISR (as I’d successfully done on two HP PCs with Windows 7), I was aghast at what I discovered. Instead of the customary Windows 7 100 MB System Reserved partition (containing the boot information), C partition containing the operating system, and (usually) D partition containing a system recovery, here was how my Dell was configured: a 39 MB (FAT format) partition (with no drive letter), a Recovery Partition (with no drive letter), and a C partition with the operating system. After doing some research, I learned the 39 MB partition contained a Dell Diagnostic Utility. It not only didn’t have a drive letter, it was impossible to assign a drive letter to it (a fact Dell Support confirmed).

    When I assigned the Recovery Partition a drive letter (D initially but then other letters), the drive letter disappeared as soon as the XPS 8500 was rebooted. How could I enter commands to copy the boot information contained in the Recovery Partition without it having an identifying drive letter? Since the Recovery Partition preceded the C partition with the operating system—as well as containing the boot commands (which I find a bizarre arrangement)—I eventually tried using the letter B and, thankfully, that drive letter remains in place after system restarts. I suspect the letter A probably also would have worked (any letter preceding C).

    Without too much difficulty, I was able to delete the 39 MB partition ... which left me with a 40 MB “unallocated space.” While probably not essential to installing FD-ISR, I was able to use a trial version of Acronis True Image 2013 to move this 40 MB space to the right of the C partition instead of preceding the B (System Recovery) partition. Then I used Easeus Partition Master to expand the size of the C partition until it absorbed the 40 MB of “unallocated space.”

    My biggest hurdle was trying to figure out how to copy the boot information contained in the Recovery Partition to the operating system partition ... while being largely ignorant of what I was doing. After exhaustive Google searches, I found an article in the TeraByte Unlimited Knowledge Base which contained what I hoped would be useful in copying the boot files. Some of the commands I entered (or tried to enter) failed. Here are the three key commands which worked:

    To copy the bootmgr file from the B (Recovery) Partition to the C (operating system) Partition:

    robocopy b:\ c:\ bootmgr

    To copy the boot folder from and to the above partitions:

    robocopy b:\Boot C:\Boot /s

    To update the copied BCD file so it will boot correctly:

    bcdedit /store c:\boot\bcd /set {bootmgr} device partition=C:

    The next task was to make the C partition, rather than the B (Recovery) partition, the “active” partition. For reasons I don’t begin to understand, neither the commands listed by pandlouk in this forum (which worked fine on my two HP Windows 7 PCs) or those in this article worked on the Dell XPS 8500. I wound up simply going into the system’s Disk Management and using it to make the C partition “active.” After reading a warning message that clicking the button might make it impossible for the PC to boot up, it was with considerable trepidation I clicked it.

    Next, to install FD-ISR. After starting the installation process, I received an error message. I’d already double-clicked on the Bootsec_64 file pandlouk graciously provided in this forum. Since I couldn’t figure out what else to try, I double-clicked it again and then FD-ISR finished installing. I’ve made two regular and two archive snapshots, without any errors, and switched between snapshots without any apparent problems. It’s an enormous relief to finally have FD-ISR installed on my new Dell PC. I have no idea what possessed the folks at Dell to organize the partitions as they did rather than conform to the typical Windows 7 structure. I’m not entirely sure I could successfully duplicate the blundering steps I used to get FD-ISR installed on another Dell and I hope to never have to try.
  2. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Amazing the sense of security having FDISR gives.

    Good job
    I've just been given a dell too.
    Not my first choice but, there it is: ungracious to complain.
    Was just getting around to FDISR, dropped in here to check for any info:
    Lo and behold !!

    Thx for posting Karen.
    Save me some "blue" language. :D ( I aint no Pandlouk !! )
    Goes into the bookmarks and the FDISR "Technical Library".

    Seems like all Laptops are coming with some hidden 'recovery' and 'diagnostic tools' partition.

    Lenovo come with heaps of preconfig'd shyte.

    FWIW: if you need to do 'partition work';
    has phenomenally effective tools: I have deleted, recovered, moved partitions many times and never had reason to be anxious or lost any data.

  3. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

    Sep 20, 2003
    I think the problem most be due to the windows 7 stuff. I bought a ThinkPad from Lenovo and it had all that stuff, but it was XP, and the FDISR install was routine.

  4. Aventador

    Aventador Registered Member

    Sep 9, 2012
    Dont blame Dell. Has nothing to do with them. I currently have 2 Dell XPS's laptops and they are perfectly fine. When you start customizing its no longer Dell's issue but in fact your own.
  5. Karen76

    Karen76 Registered Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    Who else should I "blame" for Dell putting the boot commands in the Recovery Partition instead of using the normal Windows 7 structure? Installing FD-ISR on non-Dell Windows 7 PCs is a straightforward procedure for anyone who follows pandlouk's instructions in this forum. The only reason those steps won't work on a Dell is because Dell does not use the standard Windows 7 partition structure.

    If a person uses the Windows 7 backup imaging feature, it's impossible for that image to include the 39 MB partition (which can't be assigned a drive letter) containing the Dell Diagnostics Utility since it's in FAT format and isn't recognized. You may only create a backup image of the Recovery and Operating System partitions. When this image is restored, the Dell Diagnostics Utility partition is eradicated. What sense is there for Dell to incorporate a diagnostics utility in such a way that it's wiped out if a person uses the Windows 7 backup imaging feature?

    IMHO a Windows 7 PC which requires an ordeal to install FD-ISR (thanks solely to Dell modifying the normal Windows 7 partition structure) is not "perfectly fine" ... unless the owner has no interest in installing FD-ISR.

    If connected to a surge protector (and I've tried several different types), once it's shut down, pressing the power button on my XPS 8500 does nothing. I have to turn the surge protector's power off then on or unplug/plug back in the PC's power cord before my XPS 8500 will start up. Dell Support claims the problem must be with the surge protectors (which work fine on my non-Dell PCs) despite the fact one of Belkin surge protectors I've tried is the same model Dell sells on its website.

    If I turn my wireless router off then on, my non-Dell PCs automatically reconnect within a minute and reestablish Internet access. Not my Dell XPS 8500. I have to restart it before it will detect the router's signal (yet it detects other wireless signals in my neighborhood). Dell Support (in India) can't even seem to grasp the problem when I explain it.

    According to information on Dell's website, once my XPS 8500 was activated, a Dell Welcome screen was supposed to appear to guide owners into setting up their new PC, including how to create Recovery DVDs. No such "Dell Welcome" appeared on my XPS 8500 (just the normal Windows 7 screens to assign a PC name, password, Internet connection), not when I first activated it nor after doing two system recoveries (one thanks to a Dell "recommended" driver update slowing my graphics to a crawl). When I mentioned this to Dell Support, they wanted to know who I bought the PC from. I purchased my XPS 8500 and a Dell 24" UltraSharp monitor directly from Dell.
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