Thanks. I'd read that format/mbr ought to do it but that doesn't work - not in the recovery environment anyway. I do appreciate the help and suggestions from all here. Thanks.
Thank you. If it's W7 only that removes several possible difficulties.
The dump files should be in the folder identified by the %systemroot% environment variable. To find out out what that is open up a command window and enter "echo %systemroot%" (without the quotes). On mine that's c:\windows. The files have a suffix of ".dmp" : a minidump file will be, if it's the first one created, "minidump.dmp" but subsequent files will incorporate a date-string in the prefix. A kernel dump will be "memory.dmp".
The Microsoft utility for the MBR is Bootrec.exe : read the Microsoft Support article (Article ID: 927392) before you do anything with it. I don't guarantee that this will be a magic fix, and I don't like messing with the MBR, but this is a Microsoft utility and we have to assume that it will at least not do harm. Try the /fixmbr option first; if you still have a problem repeat with /fixboot.
If you still get a BSOD the likeliest explanation is that one or more drivers have been damaged. You may then need to run System File Check - "sfc /scannow" - and chkdsk for good measure, set to check file system.
Looking at dump files can wait for now.
Hayton here is a video tutorial done on hitman I found on youtube.It is fairly long.Not sure if You or Paul will see anything in here that was not done this way.Or if as you said drivers may be corrupt.This guy is pretty good at explaining it.
Bootrec couldn't help. SFC will only give me a message that it can't do anything while a repair is pending. I don't think there should be a repair pending because the tool keeps telling me it can't repair my disc. Could a pending fix stuck in the system be causing my problems? Is there a way to clear the pending fixes?
Can drivers really be the problem after I've formatted the partition manually?
There are no dmp files.
Ok. Got sfc running by renaming a 'pending.XML' file. However it only wAnts to scan the System Repair partition (x:) and not my os partition.
Beginning to think I'm wasting a lot of time for no purpose. May just wait to get windows media from Dell and see what that does. Have a nasty suspicion I actually have hardware fault now.
If you can get into the BIOS you can run a memory test. Hardware problems can cause a BSOD; it could be a RAM problem or an overheating CPU. But if we're down to hardware problem diagnosis you need specialist assistance.
Read this article and see if it's any help -
Clean Win7 install has made the problem go away. Thanks to all for trying to help menavoid the nuclear option, but at least I'm getting somewhere now. Or I will be once I've finished downloading drivers...
What do you think was the underlying problem? A corrupted Windows installation, driver incompatibility, or a hardware problem? One of the comments in that PCWorld link said that BSOD during startup implied a HDD problem and recommended SpinRite to check for it (and, according to the poster, fix it, although I reserve judgement on that).
I just hope, after all that, the redirect problem has gone away.