An alternate title: A Step by Step Guide on How to Create Your Very Own Computer HELL.
I have to say last weekend was probably one of the most trying weekends of my life. I have 4 kids, so what does this tell you?
It would be so pleasurable to google "reformatting windows" and actually find more than the steps you take to reformat, what happens when you reformat (your HD is wiped clean - supposedly, I'll get into that later), what other steps to take to avoid reformatting, several methods of reformatting. It would have been really nice if I could have found a resource that told me EXACTLY what to expect to have to do before , during & after a reformat. Once Windows is reinstalled, especially when reinstalling from a reinstallation DVD/CD provided by the company you purchased your computer from, rather than actual Windows software (invest the additional $10 to get it - if you get your computer from Dell) there were several other things I had to do in order for my computer to be back to the state it was when I got it. I filtered through an immense amount of tutorials & step by step guides, spent hours tolling these info sites trying to find the information I needed to no avail. Wing it.
Let us begin...
I had to reformat because when I turned my computer on last Friday afternoon after a power outage of sorts, I encountered an error/warning unlike any other. Before I could access my log in screen the warning told me there was a missing or not found .dll file. If there was a work around for that, I couldn't find it. Everything I searched for that particular .dll came up with information on how to solve the problem within Windows. I couldn't get into Windows. Period. Not via safe mode, not via command prompt, nothing. I could, however, access my set-up menu & boot menu. All hope was not lost.
I spent Friday doing pretty much nothing. I find it amazing how much the computer keeps me busy. I had everything else in my life taken care of except for a couple of things I was working on for my internet job. Since the lifeline to my work was lost, I had nothing to hang my hat on. Yes, I did get bored, especially after the kids went to bed. I spent Friday night on Dock's 'puter searching, documenting, printing what I could to harness information on how to refortmat without a hitch (yeah...right).
Saturday - cue frenzied, violent instrumental music, cause that was what it felt like. I gathered up all of my pertinent information. I sat down with all of the disks, plus documentation, I needed to reformat & attempted to start the process. I pop in the first, most important OS reinstallation disk. Nothing but the same message. After some searching (mostly common sense), I find I have to figure out how to get my computer to recognize the optical drive first in order for that process to boot first.
I go into my set-up menu (F12 on my computer) and select the processes submenu (I have to verify this the next time I reboot, you'd think I'd remember after the hell it put me through). I then change the order of the processes so the computer will boot the DVD drive first. Only I have a problem, my DVD drive isn't on this menu. I call a friend who has family in the pc building business - hardware experts. She calls him & calls me back & explains a few things - better information than I ever found on the net. Side note: if ever this happens to you - it's most useful to know someone who has immense knowledge on this subject. Trust me. Only I realize, while the imformation I was given for this reformatting process is useful, I still don't know how to get my computer to allow me to boot my DVD drive first.
I headed back into my set-up menu. I went through the other menus (I'll have to tell you later which menu had the info that made me realize what was wrong - an "A-HA!" moment) and found that the CD drive was the "master" and the DVD was the "slave". This has to do with the way the drives are plugged into the power supply. Since my reinstallation disk was in DVD format, I had to switch the plugs. I don't know what to call the plugs on the cable, nor do I really know what to call the cable, but one should get the jist of it with this information, I hope.
I've had my hands in my tower before. I installed a new power supply several months ago, I switched out my video card months after I got my computer, and I've been in there to do other things when my computer was been acting wonky. I do know my way around there - enough. Enough to switch the plugs around, at least.
**I'll have to finish this up another time. I have responsibilities a-calling. I hope someone somewhere will stumble across this if they ever have to do-it-yourself reformat. I also hope that if they do, the information I provide will help them through it. I will only re-edit this post, not start another one. This way all of the information is in one post.
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