Windows XP facotory reset - no disks

I'm trying to do a factory reset on a HP Compaq mini 110 with Windows XP.

The PC has no optical drive (CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive is non-existant), and no recovery disks came with it anyway.

Supposedly, versions of Windows XP that came on a PC without an optical drive normally have an installed recovery option, but neither HP recovery program or the windows equivalent (which is a pre-intalled version of the recovery disk in a very obfuscated folder) seem to exist on it.

I'm told the exe file I need is winnt32.exe, located in a folder called i368 (or something similar - I remembered it when I was searching for it, but it's been a few hours now), but while I can find several folders with the correct name, none of them are in the right location, and none of them contain the exe file I need.

I'm told HP has their own recovery program. This program is not readily available on the PC.

Accessing Bios, I see no immediate options to do a factory reset.

Installing a new OS is not an option on such a PC, as it has an old intel atom processor and only 1 gb of ram, so it will not run any OS but windows XP properly (to my knowledge), and besides, I do not have another OS to install.

I have the product key for the installed OS.

I do not have regular access to this PC as it's owned by a friend, and I cannot provide too much information on it for the same reasons, but if anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
I've already gone through that tutorial, and I've tried using the HP recovery manager as stated in my first post, but like I mentioned, it's not installed on the PC in question, or at least it's hidden so well that I cannot locate it.

It's possible someone may have removed it, thinking it was bloatware, in which case I believe it should be possible to re-install it? I mean, the partition files are most likely still there. That was the case with my old Packard Bell PC, but then again, that PC was running windows 7.

Does anyone know where I can acquire a new download of HP recovery manager for XP? I cannot find it, and I probably don't know where to look except google.


Is there a legal way to download a version of windows XP that will take any product key and install from a USB stick?

I've also already looked at the first few links in your google search.

I think it might be your signature, but I find it kind of insulting that it seems you're automatically assuming I didn't even try to look for a solution myself.

Anyway, I'll assume you didn't mean anything to come across as offensive.

Sadly none of the main-stream methods detailed in the wiki-how, nor on youtube work with this PC.


To clarify again, I have the product key, there is most likely a harddrive partition with backup, I don't have the program to access it, and the manual access detailed by wiki-how is not possible.

I have no disks and there is no optical drive.

There is no option in BIOS to factory reset.

What are my options?
I'm told the exe file I need is winnt32.exe, located in a folder called i368 (or something similar - I remembered it when I was searching for it, but it's been a few hours now), but while I can find several folders with the correct name, none of them are in the right location, and none of them contain the exe file I need.

copy the file to the proper location

and read the below link, Ask Leo is very knowledgeable, and states that this is not a true installation of xp when only done with the i386 folder, but you can perform the steps, make sure you have backed up your data.


I'm looking for help doing a factory reset on a Win XP 32-bit Dell laptop with no disks.

I did see that F8 at reboot brings up "Windows Advanced Options Menu". I've seen it often over the years. But mine does not show the option people refer to in this case: "Repair Your Computer". It isn't there.

As well, System Restore is totally out of action. That's why I'm going the extreme path.

Where do I go from here?
Model is: Precision M4300

I can't find a model number for the unit though the underside is covered with barcodes and numbers. The patches there seem to refer to sub-components like the modem.

There's a service tag number and an express service code.

Dell support said F8 would give the "Repair Your Computer" option but it's possible the guy was thinking Windows 7. Although he did get my service tag number so that error is less likely.'s guide_en-us.pdf

according to your owners guide, (above Link) your pc should have come with a cd called operating system media, to restore to factory settings, there is no hidden partition with restore facilities.

Actually, you can download the ISO from Microsoft but you need to purchase the correct MSDN license to do so. You may find it is far cheaper to just buy a copy of Windows 7 off the shelf (or from a seller on the internet) Here is the price listing for the various levels of MSDN subscriptions:

Another alternative is technet

from here

above you can download floppy disk xp installation media, you would have to get a usb floppy to install on your pc.


you might contact dell to purchase install media, even if you are out of warranty, This person here did just that.
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Thanks for all these suggestions, Elizabeth.

It was Dell who recommended reinstalling from a partition on the laptop. That may have been an oversight. When I have time I'll approach Dell again and see what they can offer in the way of disks.
Good news! I found the operating system CD as well as others.

The CD says: Windows XP Professional SP 2.

I can look up on these forums or at Dell the steps on re-installing and will do so when I am not too busy.

Before I take the plunge I may try to copy my Mozilla Thunderbird profile (emails etc) from the sick Win XP laptop. This may not be easy. The laptop got into irrecoverable problems after my attempt to tune it with System Mechanic Pro may have let in some malware. File structure became shaky along with everything else.

For now, I wonder if you can suggest how best to secure the machine from malware etc during the process of reinstalling the OS. On my Win 7 machine I use whatever antivirus is part of the OS plus Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. (And a free Hitman Pro seems to keep on regular checking despite being past its 30 days period.) But I've heard that Win XP is much more vulnerable to attack especially before getting all SPs.
you will want to download an antivirus and its database to install offline before going online

you will also need to download sp3 to install before going online, :
ignore it being for IT personnel.

go to above, input your service tag number, and download all your drivers to a flash drive, if you have a resource cd, you could install from there but the ones at the site above should be the latest drivers.
How to use hidden partition if there is one on your pc

and on a dell there is a certain order to install drivers:

look at page 103 of your manual (online) to see the order to install your drivers.
With pictures of clean install
Clean installs of XP sites

look through several sites to get an idea of how to reinstall, remember when you do an install only have monitor, keyboard connected, if this is a laptop, then no external devices connected

set bios to boot from cd

do a full format

and go on from there.

when you done, and ready to go online, you will go FIRST to microsoft updates by going to start, all programs, top of the list go to windows updates, then let windows install the active x and bring you up to microsoft updates, it will scan and you will have approx 150 updates, but do only 50 or so at a time or system will bog down.

do not install any hardware updates from microsoft.

let me know if you have any other questions
Elizabeth, thank you very much for all that meticulous detail.

It may be a while before I can find the time to go fully into this but I'll let you know the results here. The laptop is ear-marked for an 8-year-old boy to try out pc-based Minecraft so there will be some pressure to get the job done!

Okay, you might want to look into slipstreaming sp3 and making a lite xp install with nlite their forums have many users that are setting up just for games.

several nlite links below:
main, requirements, and 3 parts guide for using nlite
forums, read all the pinned threads, to see if they apply to you
definitely read these faq’s
Hi Elizabeth,

Just letting you know I finally did the clean install using your links and advice and the DELL M4300 laptop is up and running SP3 with all updates. A good result considering the machine had been destined for cruel treatment in our throw away society.

The windows updates didn't happen right when I logged in to get them but the next day I got a pop up about them and went ahead from there.

And I did forget to install drivers in DELL's recommended sequence but so far so good. I may reinstall them at a later date.

I noticed that it was hard to install Firefox from the installed IE, the Mozilla site would not even load. But I was able to download an installer to a flash-drive and install from that.

I used Avast antivirus which was fairly simple to install offline. It isn't easy to identify a full offline install on sites offering them so I looked at the size of the download and went for a large .exe file and that worked.

I have a subscription to Malaware bytes and it may let me install a second PC but I'm wondering if for the XP I should also get a firewall installed?

Thanks again,