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  1. #1
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    XP Pro 'hosed' on Dell Vostro 1500 laptop

    I sometimes work and/or maintain the computers in my wife's place of employment and it's NBD.

    But, I have the owner's elderly Vostro 1500, XP Pro, SP3 that, and there's no other way to say it, is 'hosed'. She tends to click on whatever and, consequently, the screen is half covered by useless tool bars and is plagued by various BHO's, etc. You get the picture.

    It is now at the point where it won't run most of the programs on it (Office 2007, which has some sort of installer problem) or anything off the desktop without right-clicking and choosing Run As... and un-checking the 'I want to protect my computer...'

    The point is, I don't have time to fiddle with every little aspect of security and, due to its muddled past, I think the only thing for it is a fresh install and start over.

    Having said all of that (to give you an idea of the state of this thing) it is of sufficient age to have come from Dell with an actual disk (well, two of them, for some reason) that says they are 'Reinstallation CD, Windows XP Professional, SP2. They appear to be the same; one is not Disk 1 and the other is not Disk 2.

    The point of this lengthy post is, I am not sure what these disks do. They are not bootable, but when you mount one, it says things like Reinstall XP, Save Settings, etc. Don't know if that will lead to a clean install or not...

    I am also tempted to use Fred Langa's non-destructive reinstallation of XP procedure, as in the files of other systems in the office are XP Pro SP2 disks, etc. I'm not sure those would qualify as a like-type disk, per Fred's instructions to use, etc. According to Fred, I would have to remove SP3 to put the system in a similar state to the installing disk. Yes, I have slipstreamed OS disks, but I have already spent way too much time on this. I have my own 'bidness' to run, if you see my point.

    Anyway, I just need to get this running so I can move on to other things. Does any of this sound familiar or workable? I have seen on NewEgg XP Pro SP3 as low as $40, but that's Plan B.

    Thanks (sorry this is so long a post).
    DD

    PS: Having said all of that, it would be a great help to be able to turn off that excessive security that requires me to right click or run as Administrator. I have tried to reverse the settings, etc. but it seems to have no effect.
    Last edited by ddunk1946; 2013-06-14 at 10:29.

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    Sounds like to me that a fresh install is the best way to go and SP2 is an acceptable base to start from as long as you download the SP3 ISO or executable ahead of time to apply right after installing XP SP2.

    Also, provided all drivers are acceptably functional (not part of the problem) I would use DoubleDriver portable to make a backup of all the non-Microsoft drivers to a thumbdrive before a fresh install. This will save a lot of time and alleviate the need for the second disc probably as that most likely contains a broad set of drivers for various Dell systems from the same manufacturing era as well as some diagnostic software possibly. One of the discs must indeed be the install disc even though it doesn't boot; you should be able to explore the contents to determine if it contains the files needed for installing, namely the large main folder labeled I386.

    It's also possible that the disc will merely invoke the recovery partition on the hard drive if it exists, resulting in the same outcome.
    Last edited by F.U.N. downtown; 2013-06-14 at 10:53.

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Clean install or factory refresh

    Service Pack 2 is fine, if that is what you have, use it. Why pay more for something (SP3) that can easily be downloaded.
    Your reinstall disks will have all the drivers needed to get things running and you can also download updated drivers from the manufacturer's site.

    Don't miss the opportunity to create an image once everything is set up and running.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    If I were going to take all the time required to reinstall the current OS, I would consider installing a newer OS, such as Windows 7 or 8 (put a start button/menu if you go with 8). It will take you about the same amount of time to reinstall XP vs install 7 or 8.

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    New Lounger
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    Thanks for your reply and here's an update since this morning. I stopped by the m'em sahib's office and found an OEM XP Pro SP3 disk. Part of her organization is files on all office computers so I was able to get product keys for the laptop OS (I know it's on the bottom of the box, but I have a 2T external running to back up files) and MS Office 2007 Small Business. I take your point about the two disks, so will try that. I am always in favor of a clean install and would rather that be the case. Also, the laptop's file includes all the original Dell disks, including a driver disk. I run backup and imaging s/w on most everything there but this box. The owner doesn't bring it in that often for maintenance. Maybe that will change with this drama. :-)

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    New Lounger
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    I could do that, but this is an early Intel Core 2 Duo and while it may be compatible, they are starting a new division and are bleeding cash so I would hate to bug 'em for the difference. They are already into me for backup systems, software and time. :-) that's a great idea, tho'. I run Win 7 Pro on everything in my home office and Win 8 Pro on the house server (got tired of WHS 2011). It will be interesting to see what is in 8.1. I was prepared to dislike Win 8, but I can get around it with no problems. Again, thanks!

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    Oh, one other thing; their medical office (web-based) software is not compatible with anything over IE 8, if you can believe it. So, have to stay where we are for the time being. They're looking at difference patient systems as we speak. Anyway...

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    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddunk1946 View Post
    Oh, one other thing; their medical office (web-based) software is not compatible with anything over IE 8, if you can believe it. So, have to stay where we are for the time being. They're looking at difference patient systems as we speak. Anyway...
    Try Compatibility view on IE versions greater than IE 8.

    Jerry

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    ddunk1946,

    If those "Reinstallation CDs" are Dell-branded, they are indeed bootable. There is only one CD, so it's not a set of two and you probably just have a duplicate. Dell's CDs (some of which you may or may not have) include an OS Reinstallation CD or DVD, a Drivers and Utilities CD, and possibly additional CDs for bundled factory-installed software.

    Dell uses a lightly tweaked version of a generic Microsoft XP installation disk, so once installed you'll be left with a generic XP installation without any Dell drivers or special software, although it will be bios-locked to a Dell computer and pre-activated. A clean install process involves:

    • installing XP from the CD (activation is bios-locked so you won't even need the Product Key from the bottom of the case);
    • running the Drivers & Utilities CD to install Dell drivers;
    • installing any additional software (modem drivers, CD/DVD-burning software, MS-Office, etc.).

    (In lieu of step 2, you can also download any Dell drivers from Dell's website. Do that beforehand so that if there is any confusion identifying which drivers you need you can consult the old installation's Device Manager before it gets nuked.)

    Before you go to all that trouble, however, have you checked whether the machine has a factory-restore function on it? If so, that will do a quick clean-install and you'll be back up and running in about 15 mins or so, with all Dell drivers and any factory-installed software intact, exactly as it was when it left the factory. The Vostro model line post-dated the introduction of Dell's "PC-Restore by Symantec" (aka, DSR) system that shipped with many of Dell's XP systems, so it's possible you have it and don't know it. To check for sure, go into Disk Management and look at the partition layout. If you have an unlabeled partition of about 3-6GB with no drive letter at the tail end of the hard disk, it is almost certainly a DSR partition. If the DSR partition is there, you can learn more about it on my website, "Inside the Dell PC-Restore Partition".

    HTH,

    Dan Goodell

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddunk1946 View Post
    Oh, one other thing; their medical office (web-based) software is not compatible with anything over IE 8, if you can believe it. So, have to stay where we are for the time being. They're looking at difference patient systems as we speak. Anyway...
    I'd stick with XP then. You may indeed be able to get everything to work with Windows 7 or 8, with IE 8; but you KNOW that it will work with XP.

    Besides, you already have XP; you don't need to buy anything.

    The only thing I'd consider buying in this case is a new, bigger hard drive. This is the time to install a new hard drive, if you're going to do it. Hard drives are mechanical, and they eventually fail; by putting in a new hard drive, you reset the "failure" clock to zero, effectively adding a few years to that clock. Also, you'll have more hard drive space with the new drive, always a nice thing.

    That's an expense that they may well be willing to pay, since it greatly stabilizes the computer in question.

    (Also, the old hard drive becomes a full backup of the system.)

  11. #11
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    Dan, thanks for the insight. I was aware of most of that, but my post was already hideously long so I didn't go into a lot of detail. As an ex-engineer, if I'm asked the time, I will tell you how the watch was made.
    But I digress (again). I ended up slaving the notebook drive to my primary desktop and Norton 2013 immediately went off, showing a nasty Trojan and a root kit. Got that off and reinstalled the drive. Yes, the Dell disks are bootable but I had neglected to check the boot order (haste makes waste!) and when the DVD allowed me to install a fresh copy of XP without booting into the DVD, I didn't question it. And yes, because of their immaculate record-keeping, each computer's support docs, product keys, disks and the like are fully documented within her company and available, I have all the Dell driver disks, etc. So, against my better judgement (I am from the halcyon days of personal computing where you had to explain WHAT a personal computer was and THEN try to sell it. You know, back when there were separate versions of Lotus 1-2-3 for IBM, Eagle, Osbourne, etc.?) But, I haven't done it for a living in some time, so I'm hardly an expert these days. So, the Dell disk erased the 'gelded' copy of XP and replaced it with a fresh one. I added the Dell drivers and everything was running smoothly. Added back her data etc and installed a fresh copy of Office 2007 Small Business after running all 150+ security updates, etc. Everything is fine BUT Excel won't run without trying to 'configure' itself every time it runs. Adds another minute or two to get to a blank spreadsheet.
    Trust me when I tell you I have pages and pages of 'fixes' for this problem, from Microsoft to individual forums, etc. Everything from creating new shortcuts to removing hidden trial versions of Office (there were pieces of Office 2010 on it). Nothing works, so far. I used tools to completely remove Office 2007 and 2010, etc. and nothing has worked.
    At this point, I think a total wipe is in order, which I should have done initially. I'm all about clean installs, but I guess I was trying to be too cute with this one. Had hoped to spend some time in the pool this weekend, now that the weather is hot.
    Am really surprised at this Microsoft thing, but having been a dealer for them in the past, I should be. Film at 11.

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    New Lounger
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    Dan, am going ahead with the wipe. By the way, on this Vostro, there did not appear to be a DSR partition, C and then the Media Direct and one of 78k. I'm guessing that the included disks trump the partition creation. You would know better than I would. At any rate, I'm doing a clean install on C:. You site has great information, thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ddunk1946 View Post
    By the way, on this Vostro, there did not appear to be a DSR partition, C and then the Media Direct and one of 78k. I'm guessing that the included disks trump the partition creation.
    Well, it wasn't an "either/or" practice--for awhile Dell continued to include the CDs, regardless of whether you also had DSR, and then they gradually discontinued including any CDs--again, DSR or not. If the Vostro was ordered from Dell's Business division, it's common for that side to ship computers without all the bloatware or anything extraneous, so that's the most likely reason it didn't get DSR. DSR was principally targeted at home consumers, so for instance almost all Inspiron laptops got it while none of the Latitude models did.

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    New Lounger
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    Well, that's true, now that I think about it. They tend towards Vostros as they could specify XP and resist Vista and Win 7 at the time, now Win 8. They are limited by their medical software, which is under review.
    So, bottom line, I did an absolute clean install, which I always do (except this time) and should have done at the start. Everything installed, all the Dell drivers that were called for and Office 2007 Small Business runs without Excel trying to 'configure' itself when started. The only problem was their Verizon USB broadband modem, which took a while to get its drivers installed/recognized as a modem and Ethernet device/adapter.
    But, everything is running well, the laptop is back in the owner's hands and she's happy. That sucked up more time than intended, but the outcome was worth it. No good deed goes unpunished, right? Thanks for your help and insight. (I'm typing into a bright window, so if I miss a key or two, forgive me). :-)

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