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How do you access Dell recovery partition?

Jeffrey Safford

I have a Dell Inspiron 518 running Windows Vista. My kids have managed to get it infected with the virus that poses like a virus scanner – XP Antivirus 2008 (runs as XPAntivirusUpdate.exe and xpa2008.exe). I can’t manage to get this damned thing removed, so I’m just going to have Windows reinstalled.


Yeah, the Vundo trojan and all of its variants (AntiVirus 2009, AntiVirus XP 2008, WinFixer, AntiSpywareMaster, Storage Protector, Sysprotect) can be a huge pain in the butt to remove. My parents got infected by it a few months back and it was one of the more difficult viruses to remove that I’ve run into.

Symantec has a removal tool, but it doesn’t work with all of the variants. Assuming that doesn’t work for you, then you can try to remove it by booting with a Barts PE disk and scanning your machine with McAfee’s SuperDAT.

You may want to give that a try, but in the event that it doesn’t work for you then you can access the Dell recovery partition by pressing Ctrl+F11 when the machine is first turned on. The appropriate time to do this is almost immediately after the power button is pressed. A small message is usually displayed that offers to let you enter the BIOS (usually F2 on newer Dells) or go to the boot menu (F8 or F10, I think; it displays the appropriate key to press).

So, assuming that the partition that the recovery image is saved to hasn’t been deleted for some reason, or that the master boot record hasn’t been altered from the factory settings then the Dell System Recovery software will load and you will be given the option to reimage your drive. Their software is basically just a rebranded version of Norton’s Ghost or some other similar imaging software.

Do keep in mind that if you decide to reimage your machine that all of the data that was on your hard drive will be lost. The machine will be exactly as it was when you first purchased it – meaning that any saved documents, movies, music, settings, programs installed by yourself, etc will be gone.

Because of this I would highly recommend that you save anything that needs to be kept to a flash drive or a DVD before you go forward. After the reinstallation of Vista then you can copy the files back to your hard drive (be sure to virus scan them first, it’d be rather foolish to immediately reinfect yourself with the same malware)

If for some reason you’re unable to get to Dell’s recovery software then you can always order a DVD from them that does the same thing.

Good luck.

About Kevin Souter

Kevin Souter is a full time computer technician and operates a computer repair site, as well as a free spyware removal site. http://www.tweaksforgeeks.com has articles and tutorials on all sorts of computer problems from internet issues to hardware defects, for the novice and the expert.
  • Smith

    really a very useful information to performed dell recovery your computer..

  • DarkOne

    By the way you can use Malwarebyte’s Anti-Malware and it will remove the XP AntiVirus and all Vundo entries. This is the best FREE program I have seen. I hope this helps others out there looking for resolution. Make sure to update it each time you go to run it as it updates the definition file daily. Good Luck!

  • http://www.aspencomputerservices.com Fort Collins Computer Repair

    Lately, I have not been able to totally count on MalwareBytes for remove viruses. Usually a combination of tools are required.

    More and more recently, I’ve seen some very nasty viruses in which a full reinstall may not be required, but it’s certainly recommended.

    In the same amount of time it would take you to remove the virus and then repair the operating system files, you could have… backed up all the data, reinstalled the OS, installed the updated drivers, reinstalled the applications and configured everything to use (email, etc) and then moved the data back over to the machine.

  • http://www.gccs.net Tommy Shrader / Gulf Coast Computer

    I totally agree with what Fort Collins Computer Repair posted… The only downside to doing a clean install vs a repair is the fact that you will loose all the installed programs you have added from the previous install… I have found that if you use Malwarebytes with other tools like SuperAntiSpyware and Trojan Remover you can usually get rid of most viruses… This is of course only if you can download and or access them…

  • http://www.computerpros-online.com Joe Karlick

    Not sure if anyone is interested….

    My company offers a pay by the problem NOT by the HOUR solution to virus and spyware infection..and we’ll NEVER wipe out the pc!!

    The method we use is patent pending and will be offered on a how to dvd…

    Until the DVD is finished we do offer the service in house for a set fee of $250 and we also guarantee our work for 48 hrs, if you have any problems, questions or issues in 48hrs you can bring or ship the pc back and we’ll fix it for free…most can be done over the phone without re-shipping it back to us!!!

    As we all know, it’s not about the PC anymore it’s about the priceless files that are on it!!

    Now people have an option to either do it at home following my DVD or have us do it for you..

    Hope this helps…



  • http://www.computerpros-online.com Joe Karlick

    Malwarebytes is a good program, just hope your not relying on it to completley clean the pc’s your working on!! There are sooo many other things that need to be done in order to clean them effectivly as well as keep them from coming back!! In our DVD we show you step by step EVERYTHING that needs to be done!!

  • Ed

    @Joe Karlick:

    By any chance would this ‘patent pending’ (said sarcastically) method be “shove the hard drive in another PC, copy the files off it, reinstall the OS, then copy the files back? $250 seems a bit steep to me…..

  • Fernando

    My computer got that virus a few months ago and I was unnable to even run the Malwarebytes program. I fixed it by usign system restore to an earlier point.

  • Varm

    Run Malwarebytes in safe mode with networking so it can upgrade.

  • http://www.tweaksforgeeks.com Sootah

    @Fernando & Varm,

    True, assuming that the install of MalwareByte’s Anti-Malware hasn’t been hosed by the XP AntiVirus trojan then booting to Safe Mode with Networking (press F8 when the computer is first starting up to access Safe Mode, then select the Safe Mode with Networking option) should allow you to both run MAM and update it to the latest definitions because you should be able to access the internet.

    If you are able to run the Anti-Malware program, then be sure to do the updates before the scan. This will give it the best chance to be able to remove the virus as it will have updated instructions on how to complete the removal as well as should be able to better detect anything else that may also have infected your PC.

    Let us know if you have any other questions.

    -TweaksForGeeks Support

  • TOM

    You can download malwarebytes to usb stick on another computer, If you are unable to install on the infected computer rename the file to another name this generally allows you to install it. then rename the .exe to .cmd and it will run.

  • pickles

    just FYI these viruses are jokes…. All you have to do is boot to sae mode make sure that in folder options you select view hidden files and folders, then and folder that has no real naming convention most of the time it is just random numbers delete them all. thats it your done.

  • pickles

    edit on the last post open my computer then the c drive then program data then delete the folders

  • mike s.

    I got my Restore real Dell Restore CD from http://www.overlapsystems.com It was a good price and worked for my Latitude system.

  • http://www.digitalfuturelive.com Digital Future

    It is easy enough to find removal guides online for all the variants of this virus string. There is really no reason to have to restore your OS or do a reinstall at all. It usually does require tampering with your registry which, for some people, may make them a little uncomfortable because of the damage you can do to your system.

  • John Smith


    Someday – after you learn a little bit about what viruses and computers are and how they work – I want you to come back here and read your “advice”.

    You will surely hang your head in shame that you could have ever posted such insane drivel.

    Next time, learn first, THEN post. Not the other way around.

  • K Weiss

    No it is called using an enhanced registry image I would presume or a remove their drive run a field compare and remote registry load to check the registry. I like to use Linux to clear out bugs with a log then find out what system the bugs used to load themselves load the registry patch it and put it back. I can’t see how it would work every time since there are now almost 8,000 pieces of code written daily

  • http://ventrac.com Denver Steiner

    In case this is helpful to anyone, I was working on a Dell Inspiron 1545, and needed to restore Windows 7 and the Dell Computer to it’s orginal state. Dell technical support told me to do this:

    1. Shut down the Computer.
    2. Turn on the Computer and start pressing the “F8” Key on the first Dell logo. Keep on pressing the “F8” key on first Dell screen until the Advanced Boot Options menu appears on the screen.
    3. Highlight “Repair Your Computer” and hit enter.
    4. Specify the language settings that you want, and then click Next.
    5. Enter your Password and click ok.
    6. On Choose a Recover Tool Window
    Select: Dell DataSafe Restore and Emergency Backup
    7. You Get:
    a. Restore computer and preserve my new or changed files
    b Select other System Backup and more options
    8. Select: Select other System Backup and more options
    You get:
    a. Restore my computer
    b. Backup Files and folders
    Select: Restore my computer..
    Confirm the restore and continue..
    Select: Factory Image restore
    9. Choose Restore without preserving new or changed files and click on Next.
    10. Click on Continue.

    And this worked for me!

  • Paul C

    Take your PC to your local PC shop and they will fix your problems. That is what they are there for.

  • shots

    I know people that will scrap a computer before they pay anyone 250 to fix it. I have picked up computers from the road side with the insides smashed but the HD untouched. There are plenty of free tools on the net to clean your computer only problem is there are plenty of fake ones out there also. The smart person will check out the program they are going to use first to make sure it is safe before using it. Too many times this doesnt happen and it only makes their problem worst. Now instead of just a few infections they now have rouge programs on that will refuse internet access so they can fix their problem. Or even access to the apps to help in fixing their problem like “msconfig” or “taskmanager” or “Disk Management”

  • Joseph

    Paul C, that’s the most retarded thing I’ve heard in a while.

  • Jerry

    During my tenure in the IT department, I have come to realize computers are only as “smart” as their operators. Easy steps to follow for virus removal:
    1. ensure you download combofix, malwarebytes antimalware, reg orginizer and a nice hot cup of jo!
    2. boot into safe mode
    3. run combofix as administrator
    4. run malwarebytes as administrator
    5. run reg orginizer to clean up the mess.
    6. reboot in normal mode.
    if these steps do not work…chances are A) Hardware failure, B) User failure, C) OS reload is needed.

  • Chris

    Try installing something like GRUB(an open source Bootloader). It will let you run all of the Bootable Partitions on your drive. Try going here for starters http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/ . I Have it on my Acer Aspire One 5742z and it detected my recovery partition just fine!

  • mishawerder

    Ok. If your main windows partition is unreachable and you can’t access your recovery factory partition you need to use image installer tool.
    Here is a complete instruction: http://superuser.com/questions/193166/reinstall-windows-7-from-recovery-partition-on-a-dell-studio-1555-laptop

  • luis

    there are two levels of infections:
    1. user account
    2. system wide

    for user account infections:
    the easy part to do before taking the pc to a tech….start pc under safe mode, create new user account with admin rights, logout, log in under new account, delete infected account but save files.

  • daniel

    My pc won’t load the advance options screen so I reinstalled with a disk laying around and then loaded the dell flash on the recovery partition worked easy enough for me… there’s a million ways to do the same thing…. anyways stop going on the internet and you won’t get a virus. Lol like that is possible :)

  • Steven

    I don’t know who ever claimed that malwarebytes.exe was ever an antivirus. It is a malware program…

  • http://opalpcsolutions.co.uk PC Repairs Watford

    I have noticed that on some Dell laptops a serious virus/malware infection seems to render the recovery partition completely useless (seen this on 3-4 machines in the last 6 months).

    Obtaining the recovery CD from Dell is the only way of peforming a non-destructive system repair which is a bit of a pain!

  • jose

    I need to reset the bios password for Dell mini 10 please

  • XP

    @Jose – remove the CMOS battery


    For a really infected machine I usually remove the hard drive and set it up as an external drive on a known good machine. I then use a combination of anti-virus and anti-malware programs to remove all virus/malware on the drive. Doing it this way prevents the virus or malware from starting during boot-up.

    Right now I’m using a combination of Microsoft’s Security Essentials (free) and Malwarebytes.org anti-malware programs. If I feel it is needed, I’ll hook up to another machine and use either McAfee or AVG for additional scans.

    And I’ve NEVER had a virus or malware infection cross from the infected drive to my machine’s drive.

  • gfajardo

    I really do not trust dell datadafe unreliable software is at least expected to fail and lose your files.