Dell Inspiron and Dimension – access the recovery partition

Many emails about how to access the recovery partition on Dell Inspiron and Dimension PCs.  I have noticed that Dell don’t give this information unless you pay for their premium tech support so here we go, hope this helps a few people…..

Most PCs I have tested can do this method providing the hard drive has not been changed and the original recovery image – hidden by default – is intact. I have used this method on PCs as old as 2003 but older ones may work too.

Note: This process is destructive to your data. Ensure you have all you need backed up like serial numbers for software (Office etc), address books, emails, photos and documents.

  • Power the computer on
  • When the Dell logo appears, press and hold the left <Ctrl> key then press the <F11> key
  • Release them both at the same time
  • The Dell Restore by Symantec window should now appear. If you get a keyboard error then restart the PC and try again. Note, if the PC is in the process of booting it is important that you wait for the boot to finish before shutting down or you risk adding corruption onto the hard disk drive.
  • Click the Restore button or use the <Tab> key to highlight the button and press the enter key.
  • A caution message appears advising that all data will be lost. It will be!
  • Click the Confirm button or press the <Tab> key to highlight the button and press the enter key.
  • The Progress window appears.  This can take up to 40 minutes to complete.
  • After a successful restore,  a message stating The system recovery process was successful appears.
  • Click on the Finish button or press the <Tab> key to highlight the button, then press the <Enter> key.

The computer restarts and your software should be as it was when you first received your computer.  Spend a bit of time uninstalling all of the 30-day trial rubbish and uninstall any security suite that was offered at the time as it will be old and superceded. Make sure you update the system to the latest service packs and security updates using Windows Update.  Install a decent antivirus and the best antispyware and your system will be as good as new. Or better!


3 thoughts on “Dell Inspiron and Dimension – access the recovery partition

  1. A client of mine paid for AVG Tech Support (I was out of town) and after 2 days of “work” the computer would only go to a BSOD. I was able to pull his hard drive and recover his data, then I used this method to restore his computer. After completing all updates and reinstalling apps I will be returning his computer. Using this CTRL+F-11 was a great tool in repairing his computer. It’s unfortunate that Dell doesn’t make this tool more readily available. It sure made my life and work easier!!

  2. I found I could do a Win 7 (64) repair using the disks from another system.
    Not to install but just to carry out a repair. It helped on my system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *