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Re: dell hard drive
If you can figure out how to remove the hdd, you can just use the restore discs to reinstall the OS using the windows key on the machine (usually a sticker on the side). You wouldn't need to rebuy a key.
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Yes the new hard drive will be completely blank. Your dell should have came with recovery disks (a windows disk, driver disk, ect) or a recovery patition that you would have to burn the disks from to make a set of disks. These disk will reinstall the software on your Dell computer and make it fully functional. If you do not have any recovery disks, you can contact Dell for a set. Be aware they sometimes will charge a fee to provide you with these disks.
Well you will have to contact Sony and see if they will send you a set of recovery CDs - they will charge for this - I know HP & DELL do this
theres not much alternative, other then buying a new windows disk
if you know exactly what type of windows version you have XP Pro, Vista Home etc and can borrow the CD and then use the license KEY that is written on your PC this is quite legal - BUT you have to use your KEY written on a label on the machine - the version of software is also written on that label
Im not sure that you understood the concept of resetting the hdd...this can be done only by formatting ...and from the windows you can not format but the partitions(drives) that not contain the windows installation ...to be able to format all partitions you have to use a installation cd with the operation system ( a boot-able one ) ..and boot from cd ...by selecting this operation from Bios settings ...and go along with the clean installation not from the recovery partition or cd ... after you get along with the clean installation and formatted the hdd and remake the partitions ...and finished the installation of the operating system ...than you can use the recovery cd to install the drivers and the factory settings and programs ..... another easy way to do that ..is to hook it on another computer ...and just format it from windows...this will erase it clean ..and you will have to reinstall the OS after that ...
In all notebooks and laptops you have Recovery CDs that you use in a situation like this. If you have the recovery disks, then insert the disk number 1 in to the drive and reboot. Follow the instructions and WIndows gets installed. You loose all data and programs. You will have to reinstall all of them including MS Office etc etc. But all the programs that came as OEM will be reinstalled.
If you are trying to install WIndows the way it is done on a PC then you miss out on many facilities like WiFi, the Fn keys etc. You do not have to buy a new HDD unless the old HDD crashed because it got damaged. In that case you do need a new HDD. But the installation procedure stays the same.
After installing the new hard drive, you'll need to boot the computer from the recovery disk and follow the instructions to format the drive and install windows. You'll also need to install drivers from the driver disk after Windows is up and running. If the computer won't boot from the recovery disk, you'll need to access the "setup" utility and set the CDROM drive as the first boot device. To access the setup utility, press the Delete key after turning on the power. I hope this helps!