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Bout to install Win7 on a dell desktop and wanted to do so on brand new HDs (2 1TB drives to be exact).

The problem upon trying to boot to the DVD to install however is that I can never get the DVD to boot since the BIOS first complains about a missing recovery partition. Now, I know that Dell traditionally ships w/ a recovery partition on the HDs and there's even a thread about moving that partition to a new HD.

But my question is, how do I do a clean OS install without any such partition? I'm comfortable enough w/ handling my hardware that having such a partition isn't really necessary, and this road block in paving my machine is pretty annoying. Looking about in the Dell BIOS (F2 on boot) does me no good, nor does the boot manager (F12 on boot) and manually selecting my DVD drive.

Anyone w/ some pointers on how to get the machine to, well, play nice?

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did you ever get this solved? –  RJFalconer Jan 6 '10 at 10:00
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3 Answers

I'm very surprised that the BIOS is giving the error about something on the hard drive before attempting to boot from DVD, and even more surprised that dell was able to mess with the bios prevent booting from DVD if recovery partition is missing.

What is the exact error?

Perhaps try changing the boot priority so that your DVD drive comes before the hard disk?

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I agree - try changing the boot priority to CD, then HDD. –  Jared Harley Aug 7 '09 at 0:29
    
Yep, tried that, it still gives the same error about lack of the recovery partition. Dells even have the ability to hit a key (f12) and select a boot device, directly selecting the dvd tray results in the same error. Removed one of my new drives, plugged the old one back in and bammo presto, dvd boots. Even managed to complete the install. Started over w/ the old drive out, and back to the same issue. It's infuriating. –  bakasan Aug 7 '09 at 1:07
    
To clarify, setting dvd as highest in boot priority didn't work. Directly selecting dvd drive from dell boot manager didn't work. Only in plugging the old hd back in (with its recovery partition) would the win7 installer boot up. –  bakasan Aug 7 '09 at 1:08
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You could boot from the Gparted live CD and wipe the disk from there.

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Current plan is that I swapped one of my new HDs for the old one. I've installed win7 onto one of my new HDs. I'm moving some files around but next I'm going to remove the old HD and see if it boots. If it does, i'll pop in my 2nd drive and all will be well w/ the world. If it DOESN'T boot up, I think I have to put the old HD back in and then use gparted to move that dell partition onto one of my new drives. Then try swapping again. Way too much song and dance for what should be a standard use case. –  bakasan Aug 7 '09 at 1:10
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There is a wealth of information Here Probably more than you want to know, you may be able to make it useful i.e. make it restore your Win7 installation, or at least make it so small on the disk that it's insignificant, makes the bios happy because it's there, but not taking up any real space.

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