Basically, I have a Dell Laptop which came in with pre-installed Win7. The computer had a built-in recovery media: I could access this by pressing F8 on startup and the boot options menu, where you can select "Repair your computer", "Safe Mode", etc...

I installed Win8 onto this laptop and now, when I press F8 on startup, I cannot access the boot options menu. The recovery media is still on my hard drive taking up about 50gb, but I cannot access it as it's a protected storage. I know that Win8 has a very different safe mode option and accessing it is done differently, but I want to restore my laptop back to Win7 factory installed from the recovery media.

Any ideas how I could access it?

2 Answers 2


Windows 8 has overwritten the special boot-sector that Dell uses to provide access (by F8) to the recovery partition.

You might be able fix things byt doing the following: Get a copy of GPartedMagic which is a Linux LiveCD with the GParted tool on it.
It comes in USB and CD versions, either one will work.

Boot it, go into GParted and take a look at the partition info.
You will see an extra partition of some 30 to 50 GB (varies a bit depending on model).
Set this partition to be the Active Partition and commit the change to disk.
Now try to boot the laptop normally.
With a bit of luck it will go straight into the recovery partition.

If this doesn't work you will have to contact Dell Technical Support directly.
They have a recovery method to restore the boot-sector, but as far as I know you can't download it from their web-site yourself.

  • Okay, thank you for the v-detailed workthrough. I will give that a go :) definitely +1
    – KickAss
    May 3, 2013 at 20:28

as i gets, you want to Format the Windows 8 partition say C: and restore the Default Windows 7 from the Recovery drive right? You can do this like Insert a Windows 7 DVD and Boot from it, at the moment it will ask install, do not click on install, just find the repair Option from the bottom, Now you can have the Repair menu from there, you can do this Recovery from there.

In case you are facing problem, you can format the C: Drive of Windows 8, using CMD from repair option and Restore the older Factory Windows.

you can Learn how to Format the partition via Command prompt and diskpart Disk Management by DOS command

  • 1
    That won't work. It OK if you want to re-install WIn7 from scratch, but it won't let you access the Dell restore partition.
    – Tonny
    May 3, 2013 at 14:45
  • You can use the Repair Option to restore from System image and in browsing option just give the Drive letter of the Restore partition, this may solve the problem otherwise your laptop must had a repair/Assist button to restore. May 3, 2013 at 16:47
  • 1
    That is just his problem. In this case the Restore partition doesn't contain a normal Windows restore. He lost access to the special button (F8).
    – Tonny
    May 3, 2013 at 21:39

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