Help! Clean install on an old Dell 4550 w/Dell CD-ROM...


Jan 8, 2006
Hi, a friend has a Dell Dimension 4550 (P4-2Ghz, 60Gb HDD, 784mb RAM- added 512mb and a NEC DVD+/-R, circa 2002 I think?) and needs to do a clean install. He has the CD that came with it. We looked all over google and the Dell site and can't seem to find out how to do a clean install. We pressed F12 and tried to boot from the CD-ROM and thought it was going to work, but it said that we were trying to install XP on a partition that already had XP on it. I saw no option for full/clean restore. Any ideas?


Dec 15, 2005
Wipe the drive and then it will install fine from the Dell CD. You can use a third party program or one from the hard drive manufacturer. You can make a bootable CD with a nice collection of these programs at
The Dell CD should be bootable... just make sure the CD-ROM is before the hard drive in the boot order. Once you've booted from the CD, you have the option to delete any existing partitions and recreate them... thus deleting all the information contained on those partitions.

If there is more than one partition, remove ONLY the largest partition... as that will be the one with Windows installed. Some Dells (all newer ones especially, I think) will have another smaller FAT32 partition. I'm not sure if this is a restore partition or simply a diagnostic partition... but it's probably best not to remove it.


Jan 31, 2006
Be sure to download all the new dirvers and most recent BIOS from Dell Support. Real easy if you use the Service Tag number. Copy the to a CD, you'll need the them you install Windows. It you copy of XP isn't SP2, you should install that before installing the Drivers except for the LAN driver, which you'll need for Internet if you're using broadband. Finally I'm not saying Zoron is wrong but I've done too many clean installs on old Dells and always just format he entire drive if I don't have partitions that I've created and never had a problem. Finally, back up any files, e.g., music, documetns, what ever, before formatiing.