Upgrade from Vista to 7. I lost 300GB of hard drive

I have a dell inspiron 1521 originally running Vista home premium.

Laptop was acting bad, not running properly etc. so I backed up my files and did a factory reset of Vista.

All was working well, I had access to nearly all of my 600GB HD.

I installed Windows 7 upgrade and downloaded Firefox.

Upon the reboot I was asked to select Vista or Windows 7. I select 7 (as Vista no longer functions and I cannot access internet in Vista).

I went to disk manager to shrink the partition but it does not show up. (It does separate the drives into C: D: etc but I do not see any designation for the missing 300GB)

I tried to find C:\windows.old - it does not exist

I tried to go back and do a system restore to factory settings in both Vista and 7, I cannot access anything (There is no old file to restore to nor can I access the factory reset).

I am stuck with this it seems. I did not snapshot the screen because I didn't want to save anything when I did factory reset. I want to maintain my 7 upgrade or deactivate it and go back to Vista and reinstall if possible. My laptop keys are touchy and the laptop moved ahead on its own while the upgrade was happening so something could have gone wrong there but I don't know what.

Please Help Here:
I cannot locate nearly 300GB of HD space...any thoughts on how I can get that back?

It looks like 7 is running from D:Recovery instead of C: How can a check/correct this?

Please send a screen shot of Disc Management


Sorry, tried to post screen print...it didn't work. Going to look up how to post it now.

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Use the Insert Image icon; 4 to the right of the Smiley Face, looks like a framed landscape w/ a tree in it.


dsk managment.png
Sorry if this is hard to see. I don't have anything installed right now so it's pasted into "paint".

It's fine.

Start by doing the following:

> cmd, as Admin, put in this command line, bcdboot C:\Windows /s C: & hit Enter. Then, Reboot


Rt clk on the top 2 drives & make them Active


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
I don't see a 600 GB drive, only around 320. Is that the one you think is 600 GB?

Some systems with a recovery option built in can interfere with installing another OS.

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@ Drew...thanks...I tried what you said. This seems to confirm that my lappy is operating from the D: drive. I have pasted a screen print below. How can I get this thing to even look at my C: drive?

@Saltgrass, when I did the factory reset I had 600GB, now that the upgrade is installed and interfering I have lost 280GB of space. I expect that I will lose some HD space with an upgrade but not quite this much. With the original OS I did not have access to all 600GB it was somewhere around 580GB or so. I know it's on here I just need to access it, as you indicated the upgrade has messed the factory reset, and I can't seem to reverse the upgrade.

cmd error.png


Extraordinary Member
Your Disk0 is a 320GB drive. From where do you get the idea that you ever had 600GBs.

Your Disk0 is a 320GB drive. From where do you get the idea that you ever had 600GBs.
When I bought the laptop, I bought it for the 600GB HD. When I did the factory reset, I checked my hard drive and I had access to about 580GB of the 600GB HD that I initially purchased in the laptop.

I am not aware that a laptop can have more than one HD installed that could have somehow disconnected when I upgraded so I am baffled as to where the additional space went?

I did NOT remove hardware I only installed an upgrade. Hence my belief that I had a 600GB HD.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
In case you do not know, what we are looking at to determine the size of the Hard drive is the left end of the Disk Management readout. It will give the total size of the drives, in your case, 286 GB, which would be around 320 GB.

If you really do have a 640 GB hard drive, then possibly there is some condition in which the Bios is misreading the drive. Does it show the size you expect in the bios? I don't know of any software that would hide the actual size, but there may be some.

If all else fails, take the drive out and look at it.

But a factory restore should have put the drive back in the same configuration it was when you received it.

Please accept my apologies if the previous post sounded thankless. I'm only trying to answer as completely as possible the questions I am asked.

I have opened lappy to confirm the hard drive and do in fact have 600GB.

You are correct, the factory reset made most of the 600GB available. I checked my hard drive after the reset and saw that it was there. Also, I checked the data I took off of the laptop when I backed it up - it is equal to 400GB (it is a 1TB dedicated external HD). I could not have stored that much data on the laptop if I only had 320GB *note: I only backed up my music and pictures, no software, or anything else. The lappy was being completely unreasonable prior to factory reset. It took nearly an hour to boot up and ran so slowly, it was embarrassing.

Things were fine until the upgrade to 7. Once I finished the upgrade I only had access to half of my hard drive.

I checked the BIOS and it says I only have a 320GB it also said my available memory is less than my install? No idea...I assume this is because it is reading the recovery drive as my memory and the C drive is currently not accessible.

Now when I boot up I have to select Vista or Win7. If I choose Vista I do not have a whole lot of functionality but I have checked disk manager, it is exactly the same as for Win7.

I cannot do anything with the Win7 upgrade because I do not have memory for it. I tried to put Microsoft Office on my Win7 upgrade but I get a notification that I do not have enough memory, my screenprint shows I have 285GB available on C: however my check of the BIOS indicates I have 600 to 800MB available. Please note that my BIOS is indicating that this is what is available on D: my recovery drive.

I need to switch the drive from D: to C: and I will then be able to use at least some of my hard drive.

My laptop is a Dell so I do not have software to boot from, is there some other way I can go in and reverse the upgrade...I wish I had never installed Win7.


Extraordinary Member
I am still puzzled. But if the BIOS sees only 320GB, then the problem is in the BIOS - assuming you really have a 600GB drive. The one thing you can try is to reset the BIOS to default.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
I would suggest you go back and do another factory restore and see where you stand. You could also make an image of the restore, the entire drive, so you could re-image it back if you need to again. You may even want to do an image without the recovery partition and re-image just that part if you need to keep Vista.

I can only guess that the "on drive factory restore" utility is messing up the Windows 7 upgrade. Why it would show the hard drive as only 1/2 of what it really is, does not make sense.

But do the restore, and make sure the bios is seeing the hard drive correctly. Then you can proceed to try another install.

You may end up having to do a custom install and overwriting Vista to get it to work. This all assumes doing as WHS suggests does not bring back the entire drive. I am hoping the factory does not restore an image that, for some reason, assumes your drive is supposed to be 320 GB.

But, aren't there 'other', additional drives on the list in Disc Mg't that are not enabled, activated?? Look @ his screen shot, again. They are there, dunno size but...

@saltgrass...I will do the BIOS reset later today. (I am a professor and have class this afternoon). I cannot do a factory restore because it is no longer available to me and I have no discs as Dell does not provide them. My question is:

Will resetting BIOS to defaults work as if I had done a factory restore?

At the moment the operating system and everything I save/install is saving on the 10GB of HD recovery so I get notifications that I can't even save a large .jpg. Pretty much makes my laptop useless.
This has got to be the most frustrating thing ever and the worst part is...I kinda like Win7 and I want it on my laptop. This issue is confusing to be sure! Thank you all for your input as I have exhausted my knowledge and am going entirely on your suggestions. I will post the results of the BIOS default as soon as I have completed it.

You can do a System Recovery on a Dell, w/out a disc, via an 'F' key... it's F11.



Extraordinary Member
I save/install is saving on the 10GB of HD recovery so I get notifications that I can't even save a large .jpg. Pretty much makes my laptop useless.
This is your own fault because you do not change the default drive letter (which is D). The reason why it is D: is because on a retail system that comes directly from MS, there is nothing on D:. It is designated for backups. But in an OEM sytem, the OEMs put the recovery partition on D: because they are too cheap to distribute recovery discs. You are supposed to burn it yourself from that recovery partition - which apparently you have not done either.

99% of problems encountered with Windows are operating errors, not system problems.

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