Recovering from a “dead” hard disk on the XPS 15 9550

I brought my XPS 15 9550’s hard disk back from the brink today. I hope this will help other affected XPS 15 9550 users or just Windows users in general.

The XPS 15 9550 was powered down as usual and on reboot would go directly from the Dell POST logo to the Dell diagnostic software (Enhanced Pre-Boot System Assessment). That’s not a good sign.

After running through common diagnostic steps with Dell Support a new hard drive was ordered and installation scheduled for the following day (unit was covered under a Next Business Day support contract). As Dell Support put it the hard disk was dead without any chance of recovery… or was there? ­čśë

Here’s how to recover your Windows instance in the case where the hard disk hardware is still being detected and simply has no UEFI boot entries:

  1. Open BIOS Setup by powering up the XPS 15 and tapping F12
  2. Open the Settings > General > Boot Sequence screen
  3. Ensure that UEFI is selected under Boot List Option
  4. Click Add Boot Option
  5. Provide a Boot Order Name (it can be anything, I used Bootx64)
  6. Select the available File System List
  7. Set the File Name to: \EFI\Boot\bootx64.efi or click the ‘…’ button and expand the EFI > Boot directory and select bootx64.efi before pressing OK
  8. Click OK to create the new EFI boot entry
  9. Select the new EFI boot entry
  10. Click Apply
  11. Click Exit

Fingers crossed! That’s it, I hope you’re back up and running again. ­čÖé

Fix for firmware upgrade on Dell XPS 15

Firmware update from 01.00.07 to 1.2.0 is not permitted. The system is configured to block firmware updates to previous revisions

Sound familiar? I couldn’t install any Dell firmware updates for my XPS 15 due to a rogue prefix ‘0’ in the default factory firmware version ‘01.00.07’ causing┬áthe Dell BIOS update tool to think it’s downgrading itself. ­čśÉ

Here’s how to fix it.

  1. Restart your computer
  2. From the DELL logo press the ESC key until the BIOS Settings prompt shows
  3. Open the Maintenance > Firmware Downgrade tab
  4. Remove the check on Do not allow firmware downgrade
  5. Click Apply and then exit BIOS
  6. Run the firmware upgrade

That’s it!

Resolve Bluetooth connection issues on Dell XPS 15

My Dell XPS 15 and Nexus 5 just don’t get along. Updating to the latest Bluetooth drivers for the Broadcom-enabled embedded chipset resolved this.

Here’s how to update your Broadcom-based Bluetooth drivers in Windows 10:

  1. Visit the Bluetooth section of the Broadcom website
  2. Expand the WIDCOMM® Bluetooth Windows® Software for Windows 10 & 8, 64-Bit section
  3. Click on the Download button to the left of the WIDCOMM® Bluetooth Windows® Software for Windows 10 & 8, 64-Bit header
  4. Open the downloaded ZIP archive (e.g. BTW_12.0.1.940_win8_10_x64.zip)
  5. Run Setup.exe within the Retail Package directory of the ZIP archive
  6. You may be prompted by Windows SmartScreen, click the More info link and the Run Anyway button within this dialog
  7. Click the Upgrade option within the WIDCOMM Bluetooth Software dialog
  8. Restart the computer when prompted

That’s it. ­čÖé