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Can't change boot order on laptop

by brabs11 / July 13, 2013 11:03 AM PDT

Hey all,

First off, bear with me - I'm not a great computer problem solver. Just looking for a helpful patient person or two.

I've got a Dell Studio 15 running Windows 7 64-bit. About a week ago, it suddenly started running incredibly slowly. To give you an idea, when I click on the Windows icon in the bottom left, it takes about a minute for the computer to bring up the programs menu. This wasn't a gradual thing - the day before I encountered the problem, it was running very smoothly. My first thought was to turn to system restore, but something seems to have wiped all my restore points... not very encouraging.

I could give you more system specs and whatnot, but I was able to back up all my files, so now I'm more interested in just wiping the HDD and re-installing Windows then I am in pinpointing and fixing the problem (I'm crossing my fingers it's not a hardware issue) ... which leads me to the real problem:

When I hit the appropriate function key to enter BIOS and change the boot order as the thing is starting up so that I can bump the CD drive to the top of the list, the progress bar stops in it's tracks and the whole machine stalls until I'm forced to just turn it off and try again. I took the hard drive out to force it to boot from the CD, but of course, I can't install onto the hard drive when it's not plugged in. Is there an easy workaround here? Can I change the boot order some other way? Or is this all futile, considering there is a clear issue with the BIOS that probably won't be solved by clearing the hard drive?

Thank you in advance for any help you can give to my naive self.

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All Answers

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Try the usual.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 13, 2013 11:26 AM PDT

Beg, borrow some USB DVDRW and see if you can boot from that. Optical drives are finicky short lived things so I won't repeat lens cleaning and removing fingerprints from the media.

It's a shame the Dell Studio 15 has many models. We know the new EFI BIOS can be problematic so if yours has it, Dell and the industry should be ashamed.

In short, research Corporate Stable Mode as well and try the USB DVDRW.

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System restore
by MikeAanders / July 21, 2013 2:03 AM PDT

Most laptops have a system restore function accessible by pressing one of the function keys upon switching on. This system restore information is stored on a separate partition on the HDD. Upon switching on it will tell you which key to press (but be alert!, the info is usually only there for a few seconds). Or the option may be in the BIOS menu. This will take you back to exactly how the laptop was when you first purchased it.
Failing that, if you just want to make a fresh reinstall of Windows and you have the disk and that works in Windows currently, you could consider putting it on a USB memory stick and trying to boot from that. See:
You can buy an 8GB stick for around a fiver. And reinstallation is far far quicker than using a disk.
Of course, then you would need to install the drivers for your various bits of hardware (get from Dell's website).
Then you'd have a very clean installation without all the crap that Dell gives you.
But obviously BACK UP your data first. Make a note of your apps you would need to reinstall.

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