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Dell factory-installation OS Discs September 14, 2010

Posted by General Zod in Self-Help, Tech.

A long time ago, Dell used to package a set of build CDs for the operating system and base software that was purchased with the system hardware.  However, Dell seems to have stopped this practice.  So what exactly are you supposed to do if your hard disk dies and you need an operating system rebuild?

image Well… Dell has started including a piece of software in their base factory builds called “Dell DataSafe Local Backup”.  You can use the free version of this software to create a bootable USB drive or a set of DVDs that can be used to restore your system to the backed up operating state.

To use this feature, simply click Start –> Programs –> Dell DataSafe –> Dell DataSafe Local Backup.  Then, select Backup –> Create Recovery Media, and follow the on-screen instructions.

If you want to use this option for operating system restoration, then be assured that it usually works just fine.  However, it does require you to provide the write media.  I use this method once in a while, just to provide myself options.  However, it’s not my ideal restoration method.

Call me anal retentive, but I always prefer to perform a clean operating system installation from the original build media.  This is my one complaint about Dell.  I paid for the operating system and the software that is installed on the hardware… money changed hands, but I did not receive my installation media.  If I had purchased this software through an alternate venue (Amazon, Best Buy, CompUSA, etc.), then I would be in possession of the original installation discs for the OS / software.  Why does Dell’s factory-installation of this software negate my right to owning the installation media?

Well… don’t think that Dell is unsympathetic to my need to own the media.  They do understand this concern, and have made accommodations to obtain the installation media.  However, they do not advertise how easy it is to request these discs.

You can request a copy of the factory-installed operating system installation media from THIS PAGE.  The first thing this page explains is how to use the Dell DataSafe software.  However, if you continue to scroll down, you’ll eventually reach the Media Request Form.

In addition to your name and address, you will be required to provide your system’s Service Tag and the Order Number through which it was obtained from Dell.  They do NOT allow you to make specific requests, as they will only provide you with the installation media for the operating system and software that was originally shipped with your system.

After you submit this form, it will take them a day or two to respond to your request,… at which time, they will most likely send you an email stating that they stopped sending CDs with systems in an apparent effort to cool down the planet and make the trees happier.

I don’t understand exactly how they expect this to be helping our planet because instead of sending you the discs, they’re instructing you to create the DVDs on your own at home [see above].  The only real difference is that now they expect you to spend additional time and money to create the disc media.

Since I paid for the OS and software, then I think I’m entitled to have that software on bootable factory-stamped disc media and within arms-reach should I require it.  If they don’t want to send you the discs, then they should make it easier to buy the systems as hardware-only.  Then, I can go elsewhere to acquire an OS that doesn’t have ton of superfluous software pre-installed on it.

(I may sound a little bitter, but I’m not really.  I like Dell hardware, and I couldn’t be happier with my latest Studio XPS 9000 purchase.  However, I would appreciate fewer hoops to jump through in the future.)

However, they will probably also note that they can make a “one-time exception” to this policy.  So when you get this message, simply reply to the message and politely request that they send you the OS installation media as you originally requested.  Then, you should receive the discs in a couple of days.

Please keep in mind that they will only ever send you ONE copy of this installation media.  If you lose the discs, then you’re SOL.  So I recommend that you obtain the installation discs from Dell AND leverage the Dell DataSafe solution.  Then you’ll have options when the time comes to rebuild.



1. Leader Desslok - September 14, 2010

This is good stuff. I wish they’d get back to just including a damn Windows install CD and be done with it.

Luckily, I have MSDN so I don’t usually give a damn what they load on my PC, it’s wiped before sliding it into my desk…

2. luva - April 3, 2011

Hi I just saw this post and I just bought an XPS with no OS CD :< Im a sad panda, the link to ask them for a recovery disk doesnt work ;( The Us site still has it but Im from ireland and i cant find it anywhere on their site :< any help??

3. General Zod - April 3, 2011

Hit your local edition of Dell’s website, and use their search engine. Search for “Request Backup Discs”, and that should return a link or two that you can use to find the appropriate “Dell Backup Discs Request Form”. If that doesn’t yield the results you need, then your next step would be to directly call Dell Technical Support and deal with them in-person. Hope you find what you need!

4. chinnie - August 5, 2012

I have my 3 CDs (Drivers, Apps and OS XP SP3) and want to put them all on an USB stick so I can clean install. How can I do this? I’m on a mac with CD drive and with virtualbox running xp sp3, from where I can make bootable USBs. Will this work? Thank you.

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