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Preparing to reformat and reinstall Windows XP on Dell Dimension 2400

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I recently installed SP3 on my Dell Dimension 2400, and it screwed things up. It won't let me uninstall it, so it would appear my only option at this point is to do a complete reformatting.

I have a Dell reinstall XP +SP1 CD. From what I've gathered, this works for ALL Dell PCs, not sure if it came with mine, or my mother's Dimension 2350. Supposedly, it'll check the BIOS to see if it is a Dell computer, and then it will work. Regardless of model. (No model or BIOS version is listed on the CD its self.)

However, I have some questions I'd like to have answered before I proceed.

1. I've seen some instructions on how to make your own XP reinstall CD. Would doing that, or using the Dell reinstall CD be preferable?

2. If the Dell CD, there is..... something on the CD. I tried wiping it with a damp cloth, but it wouldn't come off. I've heard coating a CD in toothpaste is a good way to clean it. Is it really such a good idea?

3. I've heard that as of 2006, Microsoft no longer honors product keys from OEMs. Does this mean I'm screwed if it asks me for a product key? (The key it came with is still on the sticker on the PC.)

4. Since I've gotten the PC, I've added a wireless card, a video card, and a 512MB RAM stick. Should I remove these things before proceeding?

5. Dell computers come with these CDs for drivers, I cannot tell if the ones I've found are for my 2400, or mother's 2350. But I know Dell's website has them available for download. Will I need these drivers before I can access the internet, or will I be able to just download them from Dell's website?

Thanks in advance.
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Mark D

Mark D


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You may not need to re-format. If your system restore is active, you can return the system to how it was before the SP3 update, (in Accessories, System Tools, find System restore. If its active, then you should see a calendar with dates in bold text on a calendar. Choose the most recent one from before your SP3 upgrade. Reboot after its done and you should be back to normal).

However, if your System Restore is not active, you can either re-format, OR try to let XP repair itself. From my experience, the Dell systems product key will be accepted even if you load XP from a non Dell XP CD. If you do re-format, the best option will be to get the latest drivers from Dell, and if you connect to the internet via your network connection, then yes, you have to load the network drivers 1st, (I normally try to have all my drivers up and ready before connecting to the internet).

Hope this helps...
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