Hi chaps, I have a Dell XPS17, dual booting with Windows and Ubuntu on it.
I have to give it away and therefore reinstall windows. Usually, I'd format the whole HD and reinstall Windows, but I don't have the Windows CD ā€“ it wasn't dispatched with the laptop unfortunately ā€“ so I'd like to try to do everything with the Recovery partition. I checked and it appears to be there. Now, can I format the whole HD except the Recovery partition so that I reinstall windows and remove Ubuntu with some Windows' utility rather than manually formatting it?

Typically a hard drive on an OEM system has multiple partitions. Mine came with five partitions with only one (C:) user partition. You can safely reformat C, and if like me, you created a second user partition (D:) you can format that as well. If you format the entire HD you will lose your recovery partition. I suggest that once you wipe and reinstall Windows you then install something like CCleaner and use it to securely wipe the remaining free space. There are utilities that can recover data even after a reformat. The secure wipe will fix that.

Here's a similar method I used since I didn't want to bother with getting restore media.

Step 1: Uninstall my apps.
Step 2: Create TWO new Admin capable accounts. One of them is for use, the other is our backup admin account. Use the Rule Of Two for this with a single user.
Step 3. Login to the new user account and then in accounts remove your old account and have it delete that old user's files.
(almost done.)
Step 4. Go get CCLEANER and have it wipe unused disk space.

Look around for anything on the other drive letters and ship it.

Aloha, I have used a method similar to "rproffitt" above. Using the the Windows defrag tool after you have uninstalled any programs and deleted the old user/admin account, (assuming you don't have an SSD) will re-write over some of the previously used space then use the CCleaner wipe and Reg cleaner. You should also rename the computer and remove/replace your name and the old computer name using regedit. That should clean it up right nicely unless you are really paranoid.

@JC. The only reason I no longer do that is those recovery systems fail far too often. I'm going with 50% of the time with pre-W10 systems. The methods other than this avoid having to dig up recovery media. Then again if it is just to be sent to another user, could load Linux and let the new owner deal with Windows.

Just a reminder - when you get the new system, take a complete disk image before doing anything and store it offline.

those recovery systems fail far too often

Well, maybe. But then it's just a re-boot and a few clicks to try the recovery partition and, if it works, job done. So simple that IMHO it's worth trying first.

If you've got access to the restore partition, I wouldn't even worry about reformatting the linux partition as the recovery partition will handle all that. I'd just boot the restore partition and let it get to work. :)

I would try to make recovery discs. I had a disc partition fail and I returned the laptop one day after I bought it for that reason. They do fail. I had trouble with a second HP Pavilion and called the tech support and they agreed the partition failed and mailed me two recovery discs free. Google for some type of recovery software or if no other choice boot and pray. I would definatly clone the next sytem as was stated above.

commented: This is my experience as well. "Let's pray." +15

cool thanks guys. I forgot to mentioned that the language of WIndows needs to be changed too, which is why I was thinking to reinstall the OS directly from the recovery partition. @JamesCherril, I will start with your suggestion as I do have the recovery partition. WHen you say the recovery image, do you mean the recovery partition or do I have to create a recovery image from the recovery partition?

Can you reveal which Windows? For W10 I use the Microsoft Media Creation Kit to make the usual install and repair USB stick or DVD. No CDKEY required for use or to install W10 from scratch.

It's been a while since I've had to "reset to factory" any of my Dells (I image all my systems using Macrium Reflect) but I believe you just repeatedly tap F8 while the Dell logo is showing and you will get a menu option for that.

To add to Reverend Jim's F8, once in a while the F8 or Fkey to cover all PCs seems hard to hit at the right time. So once you know the key to press such as Esc, Del, Fkey or other, here's the old tech trick.

Power off then press and hold the key down. Don't let up. Power up and only let up when you see the PC responded to that keypress.

You won't run into this on many PCs but here we would see it a few times a month with just a few hundred random PCs.

WHen you say the recovery image, do you mean the recovery partition or do I have to create a recovery image from the recovery partition?

IF ( if ) you can boot from the recovery partition then it simply gives you a choice of trying to repair an existing system, or re-install everything from scratch. If it doesn't work then you haven't lost more tha a few minutes of your time. If it does work then, when you have a proper runnning system, creating an image would be a good idea in case it happens again.

sorry for leaving this for so long.
So this is actually more interesting than I thought.
I did try to repair windows but when I get to the reinstall screen the language available there is only english. SO did a bit of research, turned out that by using some software called Vistalizator I could install the other language I needed. I did that as a MUI package - that's because you can only do it this way in Windows 7 home premium apparently, but when I go back to the repair screen I still get only english and sadly choosing the other language is absolutely crucial.
So what alternative do I have? Download a copy (legit of course) of Windows 7 and use my windows key - if that's still legible at the back of my laptop?

There are utilities available that will recover your product key from the registry. It is encrypted so you can't read it directly. Have a look here for details.

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