Need computer advice re: reformatting

I have a Dell Inspiron 1720 I bought new in 2008. It came with Windows Vista 32bit which I later upgraded to Windows 7. Over the past few weeks I have gotten occasional error messages about corrupted files and noticed multiple crashes and failed boot ups. I ran chkdsk several times, but didn’t notice any improvement.

I figured the thing was on its last legs and so I made sure everything was backed up to an external hard drive. Since yesterday the poor ole thing won’t even finish the boot sequence. I get some Startup Repair thing from Windows which goes though its thing, but then it still doesn’t boot all the way.

I have a system restore disk from Dell which will format the drive and reset everything to the way it was when it shipped out 4 years ago. Before I go through that process is there anything else I could try to fix the problems? As far as I can tell, this is mainly a software problem although there may be some bad sectors on the disk that have corrupted files. Would those cause troubles with a system restore?

I am not sure, but that sounds to me like a hard drive on its way out more than a software problem. It won’t hurt to try, and if the drive is still working ok - it will leave out bad sectors, but I wouldn’t put anything important on that drive (sounds like you’ve already been preparing for that).


It’s possible that your hard drive is dying. Usually there will be more information in the event log (Start–>Control Panel–>Administrative Tools --> Event Viewer; You will want to look at the system log for disk errors).

Otherwise, I’d recommend running a hard drive diagnostic utility.

You can download them from the drive manufacturer’s website or you can get a 3rd party utility such as this one:

If you have good backups and are not facing any meaningful inconvenience by doing so, a system restore will probably be a happy thing. Just remember that will roll back to vista not 7.

If you have your 7 upgrade disk and key, you can just reinstall 7 directly. This will however wipe out any bundled applications you may have from dell, if you are not using any of them, no biggie.

mkae sure you have your network drivers saved somewhere handy before you do…if you can get online, you can download anything else.

Well, I was able to boot to the advanced boot options page (F8 while booting) and system restore to 11/24/2012 which at least let me boot Windows.
Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that my Dell Factory restore is gone from the hard drive presumably when I upgraded to Windows 7(which I did via an online student upgrade deal) so I don’t have a disk or a license number that I know of. I would have to reinstall Windows Vista from CD.
And man, now the most annoying thing ever, something is stealing focus from the current window every 3-4 seconds, meaning I have to Alt-Tab back to this window to continue typing!

You can recover your Windows 7 license key by using Magic Jelly Bean key finder.

You should have an install set for W7 somewhere on your laptop.