Dell Backup and Recovery/Alienware Respawn

Most of this guide is obsolete and has been updated in Dell Backup and Recovery – Windows 8.1 which is a written guide opposed to a set of tutorial videos.

Alienware users should use Alienware Respawn. Instructions for using Alienware Respawn are identical to those for Dell Backup and Recovery. It is essentially the same program with a different skin.


Part 1 and Part 2 are recommended for users with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 Good Factory Settings.

Part 3 is recommended only for users who had bad factory settings, a corrupt partition or factory setup error 5. I also recommend all users who had their system shipped with Windows 8.0 to carry out this manual clean installation due to the large number of issues Microsoft made with the Windows 8.1 Update. The system will perform much better.

Notes on UEFI and SecureBoot

The Dell system should be shipped with the appropriate UEFI/BIOS settings appropriate for your factory settings.

My tutorial videos mention these newer technologies and you may or may not have them depending on the age of your system. Dell note the date of their systems on their FTP Website: 

For example the Inspiron Desktop range:


Systems Newer than 2012

These systems will have the newer security technologies associated with a UEFI BIOS. Its advised to use UEFI and SecureBoot with Windows 8.1 64 Bit.

Windows 7 64 Bit does not support SecureBoot and it should hence be disabled. It is advised to install Windows 7 64 Bit in UEFI.

UEFI and SecureBoot do not support 32 Bit Windows.

Systems Older than 2012

For a legacy system BIOS that is a BIOS older than 2012 you will not have a UEFI compliant BIOS. Therefore UEFI and SecureBoot won't be enabled.

Systems Older than Late 2010

For a legacy system BIOS that is a BIOS older than 2010 you will not have a UEFI compliant BIOS and you will not have SecureBoot.

These systems likely do not have the capabilities to boot from an external hard drive so a Factory Backup (Bootable USB Flash Drive) should be used instead of a Rescue Disk (Bootable USB External Hard Drive).

Part 1: Updating Dell Backup and Recovery and Creating Recovery Media – Windows 8.1

There are two forms of Recovery media which can be made with Dell Backup and Recovery. The Rescue Disk (Recovery External Hard Drive) and the Factory Backup Drive (Recovery USB Flash Drive).

The Rescue Disk is recommended by Dell however systems that are older than 2010 do not have the capabilities to boot from an external hard drive. Newer systems than 2012 typically have a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot; from the forums this security technology can be problematic with some vendors of USB flash drive. It however works well in my test, so I recommend using the same USB flash drive as I used if you have difficulty with other vendors.

I usually recommend make both the Rescue Disk (Recovery External Hard Drive) and Factory Backup (Recovery USB). 2 sources of Recovery Media are better than one.

I therefore instruct on updating to the latest version of Dell Backup and Recovery, creating the Recovery Media and testing if the media boots in a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot enabled.

It is also possible to create a set of Factory Backup DVDs but this is very problematic and is not recommended in any case.

If you have performed a clean installation, then upon installation Dell Backup and Recovery will create a new factory partition based on your clean installation.

Variant A: Creation of a Rescue Disk with Dell Backup and Recovery.

The video below is displayed in two formats, natively on WordPress and also on YouTube. Ensure to select HD to the top right or watch on YouTube with the maximum video quality for best results:

Player 1: YouTube

Player 2: WordPress

Dell Backup and Recovery Download Link:

Alienware Respawn Download Link:

Recommended External HardDrive:

Variant B: Creation of a Factory Backup USB Flash Drive

Player 1 YouTube:

Player 2 WordPress:

Alienware Respawn Download Link:

Recommended USB Flash Drive:

Part 2: Restoring to Factory Settings – Windows 8.1

Variant A/B: Installing Windows onto a New SSD with a Dell Backup and Recovery – Recovery Drive.

Note: If you plan to use a SSD Boot Drive and a HDD Data Drive see the Addition Notes in Using a HDD and SSD Together with Dell Factory Settings.

Restoring from a Factory Backup USB Flash Drive is an identical procedure.

The video below is displayed in two formats, natively on WordPress and also on YouTube. Ensure to select HD to the top right or watch on YouTube with the maximum video quality for best results:

Player 1: YouTube

Player 2: WordPress

Variant C: Restoring from the Internal Recovery Partition – Windows 8.1 Only

Player 1: YouTube

Player 2: WordPress

Variant C: Restoring from the Internal Recovery Partition – Windows 7 Only

This is not factory settings but a clean installation of Windows 7 with specialised software for our laboratory. Dell Backup and Recovery when installed on a clean installation will make a recovery image of the clean installation.

Player 1: YouTube

Player 2: WordPress

Part 3: Dell Backup and Recovery – Creating a Factory Image on A Clean Installation

Windows should be clean installed in accordance to:

Dell Backup and Recovery Download Link:

Alienware Respawn Download Link:

Windows 8.1 Legacy BIOS

Player 1: YouTube

Player 2: WordPress

10 thoughts on “Dell Backup and Recovery/Alienware Respawn

  1. Hi Phillip,
    my inspiron 5537 has a 'missing or corrupted' recovery partition for no apparent reason (I haven't done anything wrong). I tried your tutorial but after uninstalling dell backup and recovery there was no way to reinstall it because of the 'missing' recovery environment.
    Since I did nothing and the data seem to be there, is it possible that I could somehow restore the recovery partition? What if I copy the recovery partition from another 5537?

    1. Its best that you post this as a question on the Microsoft OS Forum of the Dell Community Forums:

      Dell-David F looks regularly for Dell Backup and Recovery issues and may have some additional suggestions. I believe the latest version was meant to solve some of these issues after updating to Windows 8.1 via the Store.

      In the meantime make a backup with Acronis so you aren't completely stranded in case something goes wrong:

      I would suggest calling Dell Technical Support and requesting a Reinstallation DVD just in case. You might be better off performing a clean install and then installing Dell Backup and Recovery after Windows 8.1 is fully updated and all the system drivers are installed. This is my preferred route as it will give you a more up to date backup:

      After doing these two things, you can try to see if you can restore to factory settings via the internal partition. Theres a chance you will run into an error and render the system completely unbootable which is why I recommend requesting the Reinstallation DVD and/or making the Acronis image in advance.

  2. I forgot to mention… my 5537 had windows 8. I updated them to 8.1

  3. Thanks a lot for taking the time and trouble to write a thorough answer!
    I've already done my backups after finishing with 8.1 updates and basic system configuration. I just hoped for a more automated procedure with dell backup and recovery.

  4. i recently made a clean installation of win 8.1 in my dell inspiron 5521 using your clean installation guide . i thank you for providing such a easy facility to the dell community .using the dell backup and recovery software i create a factory backup in my hard disk using your guide . i decided to make a factory backup disk using dvd's .although you have stated in your guide that creating such a back up is much safer in pen drives , due to money issues i am unable to purchase a pen drive for the same . so i decided to along along with the dvd disk . i used sony dvd for this purpose , while it was creating disk 2 , it said the an error occured , and said to try a different disk or media . i decided to use moserbaer dvd for the same , but i got the same error now in disk 3 .(no error code mentioned in either cases). what should i do to resolve this issue in order to create factory bacuk disk?? .
    while working over this issue i came across your acronis windows installation backup , but when deciding to apply it i found a problem. the dell bacup and recovery has created a factory partition (hidden) in system . if i use acronis to create a image for the entire hard disk (as said in your guide) it would take lot of space and consume too many dvd (because it has to copy the os and hidden partition as well). so i decided to make bootable backup for the os . for this i refered the acronis disk wizard guide and was unable to go about it since i did not understand how to do it (not a tech person). request you to provide me assistance in order to create a bootable backup dvd using either process (acronis/DBAR) . preffered DBAR.

    1. Get a USB flash drive, the DVD method as you have already experienced is far too unreliable and you can see first hand one of the reasons why I don't recommend it. I would personally disable the DVD option in the software so all users have to use a USB and there will be significantly less problems.

      You can get a 16 GB USB flash drive for really cheap these days at approximately $10, something which you are probably going to spend with DVDs the rate you are going through them…

      Again I use an external hard drive with Acronis. P.S. the free version of Acronis requires a SeaGate or WD internal or external hard drive. I again do not recommend DVD backup with this program.

      The only thing you can do with the DVD is download and burn the correct Windows 8.1 .iso to it (as long as its not a Windows 8.1 with Bing license". You can then download the system drivers and burn them separately to another DVD:

      Again I don't recommend use of DVD for this and would recommend a USB flash drive.

      1. If I use acronis ,then making a disk image will include the recovery partition as well which was created by dban. This will make the recovery size very big . I do not want to include the recovery partition , just want to include the os partition . I was unable to understand the procedure mentioned in the acronis manual abt making bootable backup of the os partiton. Request you to kindly help in this regard .

      2. Its far easier and more reliable if you just buy a USB flash drive. I cannot advise with Acronis outwith my own testing.

        My guide was written with a clean install therefore no recovery partition was present. If I wanted to do this I would need to retest especially with a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot re-enabled.

        At the moment I don't have time for this… Things have been hectic the last few weeks I was doing an intern in the US, went to Canada for Christmas and got refused re-entry to the US. Now I have to travel through Canada to get back to the UK. Also I am trying to finish my PhD. I won't have time to test this for a while and I see little point as the DVD is obsolete.

        Again I recommend using a USB, even if you manage to overcome the issues to burn the DVD successfully you may have issues booting from a DVD in a UEFI/SecureBoot BIOS. If you are insistent on using a DVD which is again highly unrecommended, then you can ask for help in the Acronis forums:

  5. Is there any way inwhich one can validate the integrity of the recovery partition being made by dban ?
    I appreciate the time taken by you in resolving community issues and thank you for that .

    1. DBAR is Dell Backup and Recovery. DBAN is Darik's Boot and Nuke.
      Theres no way I know of except attempting to restore from it however I think the latest release of DBAR performs some checks on the recovery partition.

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