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Dell support can be fun to deal with right?

Ultimately, I have been going back and forth with Dell on an issue and came to reinstalling Windows 7 32-Bit Pro. The problem is that Windows Setup will not let me format. I've read other posts that say Windows 7 must installed on first partition here. But now that confuses me because the computer came shipped with the installation on the third partion as shown in the picture below? Is there a real problem? Or is this a Microsoftism? Should I obliterate the "OEM" partition to make this work? Please note that the format, delete, new, and extend options are grayed out.

enter image description here

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Do you know how to boot a linux distro from a USB drive? – imtheman Jul 6 '12 at 20:24
Yes, I know how to format using linux. I guess I'm wondering why there's something I can do with Windows XP that I can't do on Windows 7... Not to mention that the computer came this way and won't let me format and reinstall on partion windows came on. – hydroparadise Jul 6 '12 at 20:28
That's what you might end up needing to do. – George Jul 6 '12 at 20:38
You can't format the partition you booted from. Boot from the installation CD/DVD or from the OEM partition. – lornix Jul 8 '12 at 15:38
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Boot the windows 7 dvd again. When you get to the screen: "where do you want to install windows" press the keys SHIFT + F10. In the command line type in:

  1. diskpart
  2. select disk 0
  3. list partition
  4. select partition X (where X is the number of your desired partition from the 3rd command)
  5. format fs=ntfs quick

And see if it is successful. If not, we might need to remove all the partitions and re-create them. This has something to do with dell's OEM partition (which should be removed).

I'll guide you through it if you want.

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+1 for not needing an "external tool" to get the job done. – hydroparadise Jul 9 '12 at 13:22

You can't format the partition you booted from.

Windows is trying to be helpful.

Boot from the installation CD/DVD or from the OEM partition.

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The screen schoot shown is from a bootable installation DVD. – hydroparadise Jul 9 '12 at 12:15

I was looking to try and help you with an answer and I think its a good idea to load a bootable partition manager or something of the sort and boot from that then edit the partitions that way.

This might be a daft thing to say but make sure a) you have the key you need to validate the install, if you do not there are plenty of tools to get it from the registry and b) if your trying to do this from a disk while in windows it wont work because the file system will be currently mounted.

I read that this is a pretty cool tool

Oh and a quick google turned this question out which has an answer :D

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I realize this post is a couple years old, though I figured it might help anyone trying to do research just as I was while encountering the same problem last night.

To be clear, I was having the same issue when trying to format and reinstall Win 7 Ultimate on the custom machine I built a couple of years ago.

It wouldn't allow me to make any changes to the partition that Windows was installed on. I couldn't format or delete. Literally had no options aside from installing Windows again and having the "old windows" folder created. The issue seemed to be that despite booting from the Win 7 DVD, on some level the partition with Win 7 on it was being accessed and therefore wouldn't allow me to move forward.

I booted from the Win 7 DVD and went into Windows Recovery Mode. Then I opened the cmd prompt. From there I located and deleted the Windows folder within DOS. The directory still existed on the hdd, but it couldn't be seen. Then I was able to dismount and format the drive while still in the command prompt. After that I restarted and reloaded with the Win 7 DVD and I was able to remount the partition and install Win 7.

The only downside to doing it this way was it rearranged the labels of my existing D, E, and F drives. Other than that, it worked perfectly.

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The first partition there is Dell's recovery partition, which their techs might use on occasion. If you're comfortable enough with computers to post on Superuser, you can safely delete it. There's nothing there you need.

I would load up a Linux live CD, as andrewktmeikle said above, or the gparted live CD, remove all the existing partitions, and partition the drive into two NTFS partitions, one of about 50Gb to install Windows on and one that's the rest of the drive to keep data on. Get any data you need off the current Windows partition first, of course - plenty of advice for doing that with a Linux live CD here on SU.

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An alternative to doing this is to simply get a new hdd, its only a 250GB hdd, far easier to get an entirely new larger hdd. – Ramhound Jul 9 '12 at 16:20

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