I have this old laptop from which is very hard ( for me ) to find the drivers.

So I want to put it in the state closest to "like new"

I have already removed most of the programs.

I have created a new admin account and remove the older ones.

I have deleted folders created by old users.

Still out of 60 gb 30 are being used ( which I don't really matter ) but my aim is to clean it as much as possible. I intend to either sell it or give it away.

What else can I do?


Oh yeap, I forgot, the reason I don't want to re-install is because I don't have nor the system restore disk nor the OS disk in first place :P

This is a Dell inspiron 9300 ( or 9200 ? ) 17" if that helps.

  • can't you download the drivers from the dell website?
    – hasen
    Commented Aug 19, 2009 at 22:11
  • Probably but I'm afraid the first missing driver would be the network driver. But more important, I don't have a Windows Installation disk. And I definitely won't buy a new license for that.
    – unknownSuperUser
    Commented Aug 19, 2009 at 22:31
  • Yes, you can download the drivers from Dell.
    – Adrien
    Commented Aug 19, 2009 at 22:31
  • Ieap!!! I found them. Still the XP installation disk is missing. I guess I could have someone to ... mmhh "sell" me a "VALID LICENSE" from Microsoft.... Here's the drivers: support.dell.com/support/downloads/…
    – unknownSuperUser
    Commented Aug 19, 2009 at 22:46

9 Answers 9


You could try to clean it with a program like CCleaner or TuneUp Utilites

  • I've already used CCleaner and TuneUp Utilities. It is not that efficient, and CCleaner have already broken some of my Windows installations, its dangerous!
    – Havenard
    Commented Aug 19, 2009 at 22:32

Mostly, I rather reinstall to a new HD and tell it to look for drivers in the old installation's WINDOWS\inf\ directory, but there are also some programs like DriverMax which backups all your installed drivers so you can easily reinstall everything on a new Windows installation.


If you're PC has a valid license sticker on the bottom you don't need to buy a license you just need a copy of the os install media any disc would do just use the license from the bottom of the PC when prompted. So you could borrow the CD or if you're feeling brave download it from bittorrent and you should be ok.


If you have a system restore disk, you could try using that. That approach may be a little different than what you're trying to do, but it's not exactly a reinstall.


Drivers should be available for the Inspiron Laptop model: http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/index.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen

You can go to Service Tag (or via model) and go through the options to select the products from the list. As such, it may be easier to reinstall than trying to strip down an OS.

If you want a comparison, remember that a healthy install with a few appliations (excluding Steam) should have no more than 6GB in c:\Program files and no more than 5GB in c:\Windows; totaling 10GB for the OS and core programs. (THis may vary if you still have some office applications installed, etc.) There may also be some large files in the root drive (e.g. swap/hibernate files), but those shouldn't be crippling.

If you only recently cleaned up stuff, you could still have plenty of stuff still in the recycle bin, or in the System Restore location. If you want a visual representation, WinDirStat can give it to you, but you can also right-click on the various folders to see how much space they take up.


Your registry is always going to be a mess. It's near impossible to get it back to how it was before you started installing programs, etc.


Sounds like a perfect candidate for installing a linux distro. It'll be lighter on the resources of your old machine and because your machine has been around for a while, chances are all the drivers should work without you having to do anything.

Personally I would give up on the current install of XP. As far as I'm concerned, unless you have a restore partition like new systems often come with, or take an image of the system while it's still fresh, any installation of XP is doomed to eventually succumb to old age.

I would either wipe it and install a linux distro, or as someone else mentioned, if I had the key, I would get a hold of an XP CD and reinstall using the laptop's key and hope that Windows can find drivers that work.

  • Or maybe he wants to stay in Windows, like he said.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Aug 20, 2009 at 13:11
  • 3
    Sure, but it's possible that this option hadn't occurred to them. I don't think there's any harm in thinking outside the box. Sometimes you end up reconsidering your initial constraints.
    – nedned
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 0:55

Why not take this opportunity to (as someone mentioned) install Ubuntu? If that doesn't work for you, I think you can still get Windows 7 RC for free, and run that until some time next year.

Once an XP install is hosed, it's hosed.


Does this model Dell have a hidden Restore partition?

If it does, it is accesible via an F key (usually F11 or <ctrl>+F11) on boot which then loads Ghost and restores the partition to as factory including all drivers and Dell apps.

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