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FAILED to Nobulate (NOBNT) back to the manufacturing media (A:)
such that the Software Install process cannot continue reliably


A friend of mine told me recently that he saw this strange error message on his computer, and a quick Google search later, the image above turned up. I sent it to him, he said that was it.

What the heck is this error, and why is it formatted so awesomely? What does "FAIL THIS SYSTEM TO EMR" mean?

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I emailed a Dell insider about this error, I will post more info if there is any. If I remember right it means the factory restore image is bad and was shipped this way from Dell, only a very few systems were affected, this message was never meant to be seen by consumers, it is an engineering error message. – Moab May 3 '11 at 3:28
Check my edit below – Moab May 3 '11 at 20:42
What exactly is the definition of nobulate in this context? – a sandwhich Jun 27 '11 at 4:54
up vote 17 down vote accepted

The “System has failed to Nobulate” is apparently a Dell error message which occurs when a system ships with Vista without a service pack and is then subsequently upgraded to SP1, THEN someone attempts to use the Dell factory restore utility on the system. It only occurs with a limited subset of Dell systems because of a firmware error. This remains the strangest error I’ve ever run across, but turned out to be relatively easy to fix. Performing a Windows Repair with the original Vista version fixes it right up.

Source of Information


Also see this page for another solution in the last post.


Turned off computer

Turned on computer and started in safe mode by tapping F8 as soon as the blue Dell logo appeared

This started it in safe mode

Then did a System Restore

Programs-->Accessories-->System Tools-->System Restore

The System Restore did its thing and it works fine again.



My Dell source got back to me today, there is no official Dell Document on this issue, but here is what they said.

  1. System shipped with no service pack originally installed (pre- SP version of Vista), and user attempts to use factory restore option AFTER having upgraded to SP1.

  2. Or it’s just simply a bad factory image loaded hard drive (I’m talking about the pre-imaged replacement drives tech support ships when one crashes.)

Only 3 options to fix it.

  1. Clean OS reinstall.

  2. Another factory imaged drive replacement, which is covered under warranty if the hard drive in question was a previous imaged drive replacement, or if they are still under warranty.

  3. In the case of restoring to factory image after SP1 upgrade, booting to the Vista disc to run an OS repair.

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Coolest error message ever is no longer a mystery. Thank you! – Cyclone May 4 '11 at 1:53

Never heard of it, but it looks serious - a Microsoft forum post. And this from another geeks2go. The latter suggests it's a problem with the restore partition on a Dell machine.

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since links go stale, it would be a good idea to summarise what those links say, for posterity. – Journeyman Geek May 3 '11 at 2:32

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