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Can't Format!

I am trying to format at Dell laptop and when i choose the main partition... which is says it's current format is (unknown) it will get to about 20% and then give me an error saying it can not continue formatting. And then i decided to just delete that partition and go from scratch... but then it tells me... this partition can not be deleted... And then it goes back to the screen that has all the partitions and tells me it cannot find any. If someone can help me out here i would greatly appreciate it.
Dell's have a "secret" restore partition that the computer can use if the main partition becomes corrupted... What partitioning software were you using? You may want to opt for a third party solution instead if your current one isn't working properly.

Hope that helps.
there is one partition that is like 4mb i believe... and then the second one is the rest of the drive except for 8mb that is unpartitioned... I am using the windows Xp recovery disk from dell to do the formatting.
Ok... i got it to finally format... and it started the windows installation... But then... at around 7% it started telling me that it couldn't install certain files... "please make sure your windows xp cd is in the cd rom drive". Any advice here?
To start with the cd you install from must be completely clean. This is not a movie you are trying to watch, or a CD you are trying to play in your stereo. If the installation CDs are scratched in any way please refer to dells website conserning getting new installation CDs sent to you.

That asside you will want to do a true reformat of the drives. Just repartitioning takes a lot less time, but nothing replaces a true format because it rewrites all the 1000111100001101010101 -to- 00000000000000

Repartitioning tells the hard drive it is empty, but leaves the underlying data there to be over-written in time. It also leaves currupted areas on the drives, so a true reformat is useful. It will also tell you if there are any bad sectors that cannot be recovered, and it should skip them and go on to the good sectors.

reformat to NTFS especially if you have the option but aren't currently using the NT file system (FS).

Try, try, again, and let me know. If either of the first two things I mentioned cannot be met, then you need to A: go get new CDs. B: go get a new hard drive for your computer. C: go get both.

It is possible that the CDs look clean but are still corrupted. It is also possible that the CD drive on your computer is about to go out, and only has problems when it starts to warm up (e.g. spends a lot of time all of a sudden to install files).

We'll move on to the next step once you've cleaned the CDs and or CD drive lense, and made sure the reformat will go to 100%. I actually had to clean my win XP cd to get it to work right out of the box. Same problem you are having.
I have discovered if i wait like 30 minutes and try it again... it now gets to about 53% finished with the setup files before it errors on me. could it be a heat factor?
Is the computer in a clean environment? You'd be surprised how much heat would fly off my server every time I simply cleaned it. Then it would gradually climb back up to sort of hot over the next six months, and I'd clean it again and it would go back down.

Try that. Clean your computer out (if it is a desktop) by removing all the parts that allows you to get to the filters (if it has any) or the spaces where dust builds. This will drop the temperature by at least a few degrees maybe more. it really depends on airflow.

If it's the CD lense that is overheating, then you will probably have to replace your CD drive. Think about's a piece of glass held in by plastic parts. The glass heats up when focusing the light, and over time the plastic melts or bends, and it can no longer read disks. Sometimes it goes out all at once and you know what the problem is. Sometimes it gets worse over time. Usually the motor in a CD drive will burn out before the lense does, but sometimes the lense goes first and it's harder to diagnos.

Sometimes dirty CDs produce this behavior as well. The CD reader might get so far one time, and then get further the next, or stop before it got to the privious error spot.

Sometimes, not often, the software is just reporting different locations when it's the same problem that is causing both breakdowns. It most likely did get further the second time, but I would make sure those disks are clean first off.
I let the computer rest for the night and tried it again in the morning... Now the hard drive is making a loud noise, like a grinding noise. I believe the hard drive is dying and that is the problem not the CD drive. Can anyone confirm this for me. Does a grinding noise from the hard drive mean that it is dying?
See, with a little detective work you've found the issue. Unfortunately you hard drive is dying. It's stopping you from installing anything, right? You can't use your computer anymore, right? It's already dead as far as I would look at the situation.

Open the box. I don't mean to dis MaxTor, but even they will tell you their older drives used to come down with "the click of death" where they would start clicking, it would work it's way into a grind, and no hard drive that started down that path was recoverable. Just thank your lucky stars that you didn't have anything on the drive that you wanted in the first place.

I would take the time to replace the drive. Make sure that no other drive is going to suffer the same fate, by giving the computer a good cleaning while it's open, and check to make sure the connectors are all in good shape. The power connectors, and big flat IDE cable (newer computers use SATA: little narrow cables). Make sure there are no bent pins or malformed plastic parts, and you should be good to go once you have the new hard drive installed.

Get something better than you had, and call it an upgrade. Everyone suffers computer problems from time to time, but you don't have to suffer for it. Don't let a sales person talk you into a USB hard drive though, but instead by something that hooks up the same way the old one did, and it's a good idea to take the old one to the store with you so the sales person can point out replacement options.

GRINDING SOUNDS ARE NEVER GOOD. GRINDING IS METAL ON METAL OVER TIME. YOU ARE WAY PAST THE POINT OF METAL ON METAL CONTACT. high pitch whisles are the beginning stages, but most of the time these are too high for most people to hear, but some people are super sensitive to metal on metal sounds, like me! It's just like nails on a chock-board to us unfortunate people.
If was a software problem, I would suggest you to forget about the operating system Dell version and go to a generic version.
I like to either use the Windows 98 CD or the Windows 98 boot disk to wipe out hard drives. It's really simple.

Using either of those media devices, you wind up getting to a menu to choose an option. On the bottom of the screen there's an option to enter DOS mode. I know this from doing it so many times, you press SHIFT + F5. It will take you to the prompt.

From here, you enter the command "fdisk" or "FDISK" and hit ENTER. (The command "FDISK" is short for "FORMAT DISK"). It should ask 2 questions I believe, one about NTFS file system, and I forget whatever the other is. I think you choose Yes for both of them.

From this you can format hard drives (I don't recommend doing it through this) but I use it to wipe out hard drives. I believe you type in the number 4 and hit ENTER, and that should take you into a screen to delete partitions. I think you choose number 4 again (if I'm wrong, it doesn't hurt to check the other options too) and then you should be in the area where you're at. From that, delete whatever partions you want, hit the ESC (Escape) key a few times (you should see the command prompt again) and remove the disk or CD from the drive. Put your OS CD in the drive and run the install. I recommend using the CD to format the drive versus the one for Windows 98.

I wish the best of luck to you on that.

Since you mentioned an overheating factor, I once had a Dell Inspiron 1150 that overheated and fried up on me. If your Dell laptop is either an Insprion 1100, 1150, 5100, or 5150, it's very well a factor that your laptop might overheat over some time, and that the install process fails because of it. I'm interested in hearing more on this coming up. Again, good luck.

- Mike.
i use partion magic for all my for all my partioning and formatting purposes.
Donutey wrote:
Dell's have a "secret" restore partition that the computer can use if the main partition becomes corrupted... What partitioning software were you using? You may want to opt for a third party solution instead if your current one isn't working properly.

Hope that helps.

Umm no they do not. I work on Dells almost every day. They have a recovery partition that contains the data needed to reinstall the OS..not a secret partition that kicks in if the main partition fails..
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