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I've got a Dell Vista machine - Inspiron 1720 laptop specifically - which I'm 99% certain came with no media, just the recovery partition.

It's now refusing to boot, saying the system registry is corrupt. The standard F8 boot menu doesn't seem to provide a way to access the recovery partition, neither does BIOS from what I can see. None of the options I can access seem to do anything useful, I just get the message about the corrupt system registry instantly.

Have I lost a critical disc? Am I looking in the wrong place? Or is there anything you could suggest for how I can access this data and get the machine booting again?

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From Dell's documentation for the Inspiron 1720:

Restoring the Computer to the Default Factory Configuration

  1. As the computer restarts, press <F8> until the Advanced Boot Options menu appears on the screen.
  2. Press <Down Arrow> to select Repair Your Computer on the Advanced Boot Options menu, and then press <Enter>.
  3. Specify the language settings that you want, and then click Next.
  4. Log in as a user who has administrative credentials, and then click OK.
  5. Click Dell Factory Image Restore.
  6. In the Dell Factory Image Restore window, click Next.
  7. Select the Yes, reformat hard drive and restore system software to factory condition checkbox.
  8. Click Next. The computer is restored to the default factory configuration.
  9. When the restore operation is completed, click Finish to restart the computer.
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I can get to the advanced boot options menu, but its options don't include 'Repair Your Computer' - the normal 3x Safe mode options, boot logging, low-res video, last known good, directory services restore, debugging, disable auto restart,disable driver signature enforcement, start normally. That's all :-( – eftpotrm Nov 10 '11 at 22:55
You got this straight from Dell, it's never been in anywhere for service, and you've never reinstalled the OS? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 10 '11 at 23:06

If the recovery partition is fully intact, see this page to manually start the recovery from the hard drive using a boot disc, you will need a Vista or W7 install DVD to boot from to perform this workaround procedure.

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