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I want to reinstall Windows XP on my Dell laptop. Unfortunately, I have no idea where the recovery disk is. It's so old, Dell probably wouldn't bother.

What are my options? It's like I just want to do a clean reinstall.

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is it XP Professional? – cutrightjm Apr 10 '12 at 3:28
There are a million of those Dell XP install discs around, ask a friend, relative or co-worker if you can borrow one. – Moab Apr 10 '12 at 21:26

There should be a recovery partition. Otherwise, any OEM install disk would work with the key at the bottom.

I suppose getting the disk would be the tricky part - i have a few lying around off custom systems i use, or you could 'hack' another legitimate install disk into showing up as a different SKU

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there is a recovery partition (I think). should I simply just use the options at boot or is there more to it? – TPR Apr 10 '12 at 1:29
just use the options at boot – Journeyman Geek Apr 10 '12 at 1:41

What you can do is to first Sysprep, then clone with Clonezilla.

You need to have another hard drive (or a external hard drive) you then clone copy it to this, You can then run clonezilla once more and clone this copy back to the final hard drive of your choice.

When Windows starts, it will ask for the original Windows product key that should be on a label on the Dell computer.

This will give you a factory fresh copy of Windows.

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Some older systems don't have recovery partitions, rather they used Recovery CDs. If there is no recovery partition, you can call Dell. They will sell you a recovery CD for around $30 US. You will need to give them the service tag/serial number and be the registered owner of the system. I have done this for several customers who have lost their CDs, the recovery partition was deleted, or the hard drive crashed. Hope that helps.

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I had a situation like yours, but I got a reinstallation cd with Microsoft Xp service pack 3 specifically for a Dell computer on E-bay. Maybe there are some still available.

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Maybe you can call Dell and ask if they still have copies of those media and can send/sell you a copy. Alternatively, I think that you could try to find someone with the same model of laptop and use their recovery media.

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Or the drivers may be on Dell website. – Frederick Marcoux Apr 10 '12 at 1:17

As it is most likely an OEM install, you should follow the instructions provided by Microsoft for preserving pre-activation via manual install.

I would be inclined to get hold of a product key viewer to confirm what the product key is before blowing it away. In case it isn't an OEM preactivated install.

edit: this assumes you have the installation media, otherwise see Renan's answer

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From what he says, I assume he doesn't have (or doesn't know whether he has) the install media anymore. – Renan Apr 10 '12 at 1:21
@Renan, totally. Otherwise why would he be asking the question :) – Paul Apr 10 '12 at 1:24
+1, a product key viewer can be very useful if you have a bootable, somewhat-working XP installation and no longer have the install disk. – Angelo Apr 10 '12 at 13:26

Insert your Windows XP installation disk. It will prompt you to choose a new installation, custom installation or repair.

Click "repair", then it will re-install XP but it will not delete your data.

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He doesn't have the installation CD. Read again. – slhck Apr 10 '12 at 13:09

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