none
How to: Windows 7 restore on a Dell XPS 15 with Intel Smart Response and Intel Rapid Start technologies

    Question

  • I have a new (11/2012) Dell XPS 15 laptop that came with Windows 7 Pro x64.  It has a 32GB SSD drive and a 750GB SATA drive.  The 750GB SATA drive is partitioned into 2 volumes: C and E.  The C drive contains the OS and software, the E drive contains data and personal files.  Also installed from Dell are Intel Smart Response and Rapid Start technology drivers.  I am running Norton Internet Security/AV and Microsoft Security Essentials software.  I use Acronis True Image Home 2010 for backups.  I made an Acronis full backup in mid Dec 2012.  A full Norton scan was run the day before I had problems and no errors were found.

    Last week I was using the laptop and hibernated it as I always do.  Everything was working fine.  Several hours later I brought it out of hibernation.  My internet access was working and I was able to access my company website.  I went to get a data file from my E drive via windows explorer and the E drive was no longer visible to windows explorer.  The C drive was visible.  I decided to reboot the laptop: after post I got a black screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner.

    I rebooted again with option F12 and ran the Dell diagnostics on the entire system: all diags ran error free.  A reboot yields the same results as before with a blinking cursor in the upper left portion of the screen.

    I removed the SATA drive and connected it to my desktop via a USB adapter.  I can see all of the files on both my C and E drives.  I backed up all of my data files from my E drive.

    I ran the Acronis recovery and restored the entire disk.  After booting I get a black screen with the following message in the upper left corner of the screen - 'missing operating system'.

    I went into setup and checked the SATA operation setting: the factory setting was Intel Smart Response Technology.  I booted an Active Data Studio CD: it doesn't see either of the drives in the laptop (SSD or SATA).  I changed the SATA operation setting to AHCI and booted the Active Data Studio CD: I can now see the internal drives.  I can see my Dell Recovery partition.  I can't execute anything in this partition.  There are 4 factory .WIM files in this partition in an Image folder.  I believe these to be the factory Windows 7 Pro recovery images. 

    I called Dell support.  They had me download a driver file for setting up the Intel Rapid Storage Technolgies (System-Utilities_Application_P4TJV_WN_1.0.0.1031_A01.exe).  I couldn't use it at the time due to unavailability  of a boot device that I could put the driver on.  They had me boot using the F8 option.  I get a screen indicating that my Windows installations is in need of repair and to insert the Windows media and reboot the laptop.  I didn't get Windows 7 media with the laptop so Dell is sending me a disk. Troubleshooting continues.

    I got a Microsoft MDOP DaRt v7.0 bootable CD.  It will only see the internal drives with the BIOS set to AHCI mode.  It does not have any utility on it to work with the .WIM files.  I did add the Dell driver file for the Intel Rapid Storage Technolgies (System-Utilities_Application_P4TJV_WN_1.0.0.1031_A01.exe).  This CD only sees the internal drives if I set the BIOS SATA operation to AHCI.  I tried to run the Intel Rapid Storage driver file but it fails indicating that there is no subsystem available that matches this driver.  I tried to access the .WIM files but have no application that will allow me to work with them.

    Does anybody have any ideas on how to get Windows repaired?  Do I need to format the SATA disk and reload Windows from scratch, then try and load the Intel Rapid Storage drivers to regain use of my SSD drive?  Any help is greatly appreciated.  Thanks...Steve O'

    Tuesday, March 05, 2013 10:46 PM

Answers

  • Your "SATA operation" must be set to RAID since you are using an Ultrabook. Since you can see your files when set to other modes, it sounds more like your bootloader (BCD) is damaged. There are ways to fix it, however they would be complicated. Reinstalling Windows would get you back to work with your computer, but you won't have the Ultrabook config any longer. The SSD could then be used as any other drive, but unfortunately it really isn't big enough where I would recommend installing Windows onto it.

    Wednesday, March 06, 2013 8:53 PM

All replies

  • Your "SATA operation" must be set to RAID since you are using an Ultrabook. Since you can see your files when set to other modes, it sounds more like your bootloader (BCD) is damaged. There are ways to fix it, however they would be complicated. Reinstalling Windows would get you back to work with your computer, but you won't have the Ultrabook config any longer. The SSD could then be used as any other drive, but unfortunately it really isn't big enough where I would recommend installing Windows onto it.

    Wednesday, March 06, 2013 8:53 PM
  • Hi Steve,

    As the issue is related to the hard drive configuration, it is recommended that you backup all the files and data and then contact Dell Support for help:

    Dell Support

    http://support.dell.com/

    Thanks.

    Nicholas Li
    TechNet Community Support

    Monday, March 11, 2013 3:16 AM
  • Thanks for your response. 

    I couldn't load Windows with the RAID controller selected - my disk wasn't visible.  To load Windows without using the RAID setup defeats the purpose of having this feature.  I do believe that the boot loader got clobbered somehow.  I am continuing to look for a resolution for that.  I'm going to get another SATA disk and continue to experiment with my backup on another disk.

    I did find a way to restore the laptop to the Dell factory image from the Restore partition.  I put my Acronis backup back on the disk (I did a lot of experimenting with partion management software prior to this).  I booted up and selected the F8 key until I got to a screen that indicated that my Windows installation was damaged.  It directed me to insert my Windows media and select 'start repair'.  Dell did send me a Windows recovery disk.  After selecting start repair I was given 2 options: 1 - load drivers and look for a Windows installation on my disk; 2 - Select a previously stored backup image.  Option 1 - I loaded the drivers and no Windows image was found.  Option 2 - I selected 'use a previously stored image': no image was available to select.  I noticed that the 'Next' button was highlighted, so I clicked on 'Next' - the installation procedure kicked off and loaded the Dell factory image.  Windows was loaded with all of the drivers including the RAID drivers and the laptop is now as it was when I received it from Dell.  The SSD and SATA disk are now working correctly and the Intel Rapid Storage features are working again.  I have to reinstall all of the software that I need but at least I have a functional laptop again.  I will be changing how I backup my system.  I'm not sure why the Acronis backup didn't work.  I'm looking into that also.  I made a backup using the Dell Data Safe software.  If that doesn't work...the search continues. 

    Thursday, March 14, 2013 5:12 PM
  • Hi Nicholas,

    Thank you for your response.

    I did backup all of my data files when I connected the hard drive to my desktop.  This doesn't help with all of the software I had installed though.  I did make a copy of the C drive nonetheless.

    I called Dell and they weren't very helpful.  They did send me a Windows recovery disk.  They had no procedure to fix my broken installation and they had no procedure to get the RAID controller working and install the factory image either.  When I mentioned that they setup this computer in the first place, I was told that the build group doesn't share their procedures with the support staff.  What???

    A 2nd support person emailed me directions on how to restore to the factory image, but my screens did not match her steps and I was not able to do the restore.  This did at least give me an idea as to how the factory restore is supposed to work. 

    I went to the Intel website and researched how the RAID controller and software works, then attempted a repair again myself (see my reply to Tripredacus).  I happened on the factory restore.  It did not work according to the steps sent to me by the 2nd Dell support person but I did get it restored.

    Thanks,

               Steve O'

    Thursday, March 14, 2013 5:35 PM