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Can't access BIOS menu on Dell Dimension E521/Windows XP

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July 20, 2012 9:44:02 PM

I am trying to do a full system restore (to factory originals) on a Dell Dimension E521 running Windows XP. HOWEVER... I can't seem to get to the BIOS menu. I have looked at about 100 threads and tried every button/combo of buttons imaginable. What's the deal here? How do I get where I need to be???
July 21, 2012 5:47:03 AM

Welcome to Tom's Hardware Forums,
As to entering BIOS on your machine, tricky, here's what your manual has to say about that (pg 111)
"1 Turn on (or restart) your computer.
2 When the blue DELL™ logo is displayed, you must watch for the F2 prompt to appear.
3 Once this F2 prompt appears, press <F2> immediately.
NOTE: The F2 prompt indicates that the keyboard has initialized. This prompt can appear very quickly, so you must
watch for it to display, and then press <F2>. If you press <F2> before you are prompted, this keystroke will be lost.
4 If you wait too long and the operating system logo appears, continue to wait until you see the Microsoft® Windows® desktop. Then, shut down your computer (see "Turning Off Your Computer" on page 61) and try again."
So, in just the split second you are prompted, you have to hit F2 - how fun, it's like a game (see if you can catch me) or something.

BTW, your manuals are here
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dime521/e...
Enjoy your game of catch the F2 window
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July 22, 2012 7:39:52 PM

when my blue "Dell" logo screen appears, there is a note in the top right corner which reads: F2 Settings F12 Boot menu... or something close to that effect... but I have tried pushing F2 once, continually tapping it, adding CTRL to it... name it- I've tried it. I am almost certain that it is not my timing which is off in this situation. This is an older model computer- are there any other keys which I should try because F2 just IS NOT working... F12 either, for that matter
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July 22, 2012 8:32:59 PM

Hmmm, the directions above came straight from your manual - One thing to try which should guarantee BIOS entry. From your service manual here - not quoted due to the sensitive nature of the technique - near the bottom, "clearing CMOS settings"
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dime521/e...
You might have to look at the diagram on the page for locations - Once your CMOS is cleared, BIOS will demand you enter to reset date/time. There is also how to flash your BIOS on the same page...
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July 22, 2012 9:03:14 PM

i will have to try this when i have a little more time... maybe tomorrow. i will let you know how it goes...
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July 25, 2012 9:44:14 AM

When staring press F2 take a try.
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July 27, 2012 6:13:40 PM

F2 doesn't work. when i press f10 a VERY quick msg pops up and is gone instantly- i know it says something about not being able to access the utility partition...???... still no luck...
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