HOW TO: Preserve AlienRespawn - stock drive to aftermarket drive / AlienRespawn Q&A

Well, here is another "HOW TO" from our friend BatBoy, hope it helps!

Hi Everyone... This question comes up quite often with new owners.


First things first... What is AlienRespawn?
AlienRespawn is a Dell application installed on your system from the factory. Its not bloatware. This is your 'rescue/restore' option. There are two versions of AlienRespawn.

The 'Basic' version is what you will find on your system. Basic allows you to create a recovery option (Emergency Rescue Media) using either blank optical media or a USB Flash Stick.

The 'Premium' version which has a cost of 39.99 (USD). There are added features with the Premium version of course, however I suggest looking at other third party backup packages... Acronis is a good one and of course I will always support Ghost.

See attached image below... this is a screenshot of AlienRespawn's main screen and shows the different options between premium and basic.

Preserving your Factory Image / Out of Box state...
One of the first questions new owners post is: "What do I do when I receive my system?"


I have seen multiple folks receive their system and fail to do this. They end up wiping the drive and starting a fresh OS install only to become stuck/have something go wrong and have no easy save method of restoring the factory image. Don't allow yourself to end up in this state... Create your recovery media!

Steps to do this - very simple and well worth the blank media or USB stick:

1. Have blank DVDs on hand or a 8GB USB Flash Drive (the size of the flash drive required by AlienRespawn may be higher - this is based on apps installed @ the factory and Windows OS version. If you opted for games or Adobe apps or selected Windows Ultimate, you may need a 16GB stick).

2. Boot into windows and open AlienRespawn (can be found in the start menu)

3. From the left menu, select Backup

4. Select 'Create System Recovery Media'

5. Follow the prompts

6. When done, stash that USB stick or Recovery Optical Media in a SAFE PLACE.

If I create recovery media using AlienRespawn Basic after I have installed my games and other apps/documents, will it preserve them?
Answer: No. The Premium version might do this but the basic version will not. Remember, AlienRespawn takes the data on your Recovery partition and creates an easy route to recovery.

I've created my Recovery Media, now what?
Answer: Entirely up to you. Again, stash that recovery media away somewhere safe. If something freaks out with your system (dead drive, corrupt drive, etc.), this is your only way to get back to that wonderful 'out of box' first power on state. With the recovery media created, its time to decide how to proceed.

For those who want to move on to a clean install of windows, reference this thread:

HOW TO: Clean Windows 7 Install (Driver Install Order) Guide for Alienware Systems

followed by,

HOW TO: Restore the Alienware 'Look and Feel' after a clean install of Windows 7

If you are satisfied with the factory install and do not want to perform a clean install then that is fine also. I have ran the factory install on my M11xR1 and to this day the system performs just fine. No need to feel there is 'bloatware'.

Just remember, STASH AWAY that recovery media in a SAFE PLACE.

Can I use my recovery media to recover the factory state on a new hard drive?
Answer: Absolutely. It does not matter if the original hard drive was a 320GB drive and the replacement is a 500GB drive. AlienRespawn will format and restore the factory out of box state to the new drive. The new drive will still have the correct free space remaining. No need to worry about lost space... Move on to installing your applications, games, documents. Update Java and Flash. Updated Windows via Windows Update. Enjoy your new replacement drive!

Can I use my recovery media to recover the factory state on a new SSD?
Answer: Possibly. Many have reported moving from a larger factory drive to a smaller aftermarket drive is throwing a 'not enough free space' message in AlienRespawn when attempting to respawn. When I initially performed my testing, I used a M17xR2 320GB HDD with AlienRespawn and had no issue with restoring the factory state of the 320GB install to a 256GB SSD. I don't know why some are having this problem. So, the short answer here - be prepared for it not to work. Perhaps just go with a clean install after creating the recovery drive. Creating the recovery drive is still important - if you ever want to drop the original drive back in and recover to the out of box state then this is the best way to go.

RED ALERT! My system is completely dead and I have not used an imaging app such as Acronis or Ghost to preserve my drive. What do I do now?!?
Answer: If you took my advice and preserved your out of box state by creating the emergency rescue media, don't freak out. Retrieve your rescue media from that wall safe you installed to protect it and boot up your system with the media inserted. Use FN+F12 @ the boot screen to access the one time boot menu. Select your rescue media (either USB or Optical Drive) and follow the prompts. AlienRespawn will go to work and you'll be right back to the state you were in when you first unboxed your very cool Alienware system.


Well, I think that about covers it. If you have any questions on AlienRespawn, post away and I'll try to answer them.

All credit goes to: BatBoy. I did NOT make this tutorial, not even edited it, i just borrowed it from its original forum.


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