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There are two ways to restore this machine to factory settings;
First is thru the Recovdery partition in the hard disk itself:
Close any windows currently open and click the Inspiron's "Start" button. Select "Shut Down" and choose the "Restart" option.
Tap "F8" when the Dell image appears on the screen. Continue tapping the key until the advanced boot menu loads.
Scroll down to "Repair Your
Computer" and press "Enter" to access the DataSafe local backup screen.
Click "Next." Select "Dell Factory Image Recovery and DataSafe options."
Click the "Restore without
preserving new or changed files" radio button and click "Next." Click
"Next" three more times and click "Restart" to restore the disk drive to
its original condition. Follow the on-screen prompts to set your
operating system settings.
If the hdd was already repartitioned or corrupted, the second option should work:
Insert the Dell recovery disk in
your Inspiron's optical drive and close the "AutoPlay" window when it
appears. Shut down any other open programs. Click "Start" and select
Tap "F2" as soon as the Dell
image appears on the laptop's screen. Scroll to the "CD-ROM" option and
press "Enter." Tap any key when you see the "Press any key to boot"
Press "Enter" when the setup screen appears. Press "F8" and highlight the Dell's hard drive partition. Press "Enter."
Follow the instructions on the
screen to choose the Inspiron's operating system options. Click "Finish"
and remove the recovery disk from the optical drive. Click "Start" and
turn off the laptop and then take out the hard drive from the laptop. Go ahead and reseat it back into its slot and then turn on the laptop and press F2 to go into the BIOS. It should see it in there. If it doesn't then you know the hard drive is bad and will need to be replaced.
You should have a CD that says something like OEM CD. Or OPERATING SYSTEM. Put that disc in and reboot your PC. You should see a prompt to press any key to boot from CD. Press enter and follow the prompts to reinstall your operating system... If you don't have that CD you'll need to purchase one from the store or look at installing a free Operating System like Linux. Option 3 (less likely) You have a recovery partition installed and you should see a prompt during boot up that says "press F10 to start recovery" in this case all of the information on that CD is store in that partition on your HD.
Mine did the same thing only I don't think it was even checking the hard drive and I found an entry in the DELL owners manual troubleshooting section that said if you powe rit up and the power light stays on but nothing appears on the screen, tyr removing and reinstalling BOTH memory modules and reinstalling them to insure that ey wer making contact.
Mine worked perfectly after I removed both memory modules and reinstalling them.
Be aware though that one of the modules require the removal of the keyboard to access it so it isn't really something that everyone should try on their own.