|reply to randavis |
Glad you got it ironed out. For future reference though:
On MOST Dell systems, from laptops to Desktops, the ctrl+F11 is the default for booting into the recovery partition, though this is more common on XP systems. Usually these have a blue "www.dell.com" logo go across the top of the screen. but I've had it work on systems that didn't have this on them.
For Vista systems, if you can attach that drive to another system, or boot from a disk to some management console, if you set the recovery partition as the Active partition, then when you reboot the system, it should boot you into the Windows PE where you can run the factory recovery. This is useful in case like in the OP - you try another OS that goes bad, and you want to recover the unit to out of box state. This doesn't always work however, and I've seen several Dell systems with corrupt recovery partitions right out of the box.
Also, some time ago I came upon this posting for manually restoring from a .wim file, it worked for me as well, so as long as you can get to this file, you should be able to manually restore the machine to factory: