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I created install discs using the Dell DataSafe 2.0 backup utility in order to re-install Windows on a friend's laptop (Dell Inspiron N5110). I ran the discs to do a factory reset.

After the whole process, it booted, started loading Windows 7, displayed the messages "setup is preparing your computer for first use" and "setup is checking video performance," and showed the login screen.

However, there don't seem to be any active users on the machine—I opened a command prompt window to check the users on the machine.

Using the command prompt (again, from the login window), I activated/enabled the administrator account, and even created another admin account, and upon logging in received several errors, couldn't load any MMCs, etc.

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It sounds as though the installation failed. You may be able to do a repair, but I'd try reinstalling again, since you have nothing to lose. –  user3463 Jul 29 '12 at 6:02
    
yeah, it seems like it, but i didn't get any error messages during the "reset." I've tried several times (different variations) and no luck. –  user897052 Jul 29 '12 at 13:27
    
Have you tried "administrator" with a blank password? –  harrymc Dec 7 '12 at 16:47
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@CharlieRB unfortunately, after arguing with a Dell Support tech and their supervisor (for about an hour) about how it wasn't a Windows issue and that it was caused by the Dell datasafe backup install, they wanted me to pay ~$200 for some plan i didn't need/want, so I ended up ordering a windows 7 disk for about $20 through the dell site and did a fresh windows install. Sorry i couldn't report any good news, but i'm interested to see if anyone has had better luck. –  user897052 Dec 10 '12 at 21:42
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Had the same argument with them and had the same offer to buy a software warranty then they would send a fix CD. I laughed at them and suggested Dell was ignoring the issue as several instances were posted in there forums. They promptly put me on hold to be transferred to the warranty department. During the wait I was disconnected. –  CharlieRB Dec 11 '12 at 12:46

2 Answers 2

Since you have nothing to lose, we can try 2 things. I hope you have some experience with Linux.

1st method

  1. Download Knoppix from knoppix.net, burn it to cd and boot up your laptop
  2. It should load up graphical interface by default
  3. Look on desktop for your hard drive icon/folder, open it with read/write permission.
  4. Look for the Administrator user folder, deleted it completely
  5. Reboot into Windows 7 and try login administrator. Windows should rebuild a clean administrator directory

2nd method

  1. Use gpart in knoppix or partition magic or similar partitioning software
  2. delete windows ntfs partition, re-create it
  3. Boot into Dell restor and rebuild the system
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Unfortunately I was not able to verify your suggestions, but I believe your 1st method may have been feasible solution and could have allowed the system to move forward with Windows Setup. Therefore, since it was the only one which met the criteria, I am awarding you the bounty. Thanks. –  CharlieRB Dec 14 '12 at 12:32

Based on comments from users CharlieRB and user897052 (actual question's OP), it is evident the less consuming and troublesome option is to order a backup disc and perform a fresh install. Note: The OP reports being charged $20 for the disc with the OS).

(From the Dell site: Dell Customers can now request a set of backup discs containing the factory-installed operating system as well as the device drivers and utilities specific to your system. Requests are limited to one (1) set of backup discs per system purchased. The backup discs requested must match the operating system that was factory installed on the original order.)

During install, dont't forget to use the same Windows serial number from the label located on the backside of the laptop.

  • If there is any data on the HDD then before reinstalling Windows, it is advised using a Linux LiveCD to backup all your data, such as suggested by user John Siu. I recommend Ubuntu (it can be booted from a flashdrive as well). Then boot from Ubuntu and save all your data on a blank USB stick, for example.
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