Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Dell Downloads not working

I've had plenty of trouble getting My Dell Downloads to work properly. The problem I seem to have is that the pages loop back on each other, most of the time either taking me in circles, or just refreshing the current page. It's stupid, really.

The site claims that only Internet Explorer is supported. Indeed, it uses an ActiveX component to scan your computer, so IE is obviously the only option. But I've tried it on two different computers with Windows 7 and IE 9, and also on an XP system with IE 8. All of them behave the same, it doesn't work.

I must have got it working at some point because when I log in I can see my own laptop listed, which I purchased last June. But I do remember that it was a headache, I just didn't remember how, or what I did to get it working. I forgot, and like most things that I forget how to fix the first half dozen times, I eventually get my wits about me and blog post it so I can save myself from future headaches, and hopefully other people can benefit too.

Just got the wife a new laptop, a real cheapie, but it'll do for now. My first order of business is usually to reinstall the OS to get it running lean and clean. Before I do that, I like to download all the drivers from Dell.com, but not all the pre-installed software is available through the support site. The stuff that Dell wants to keep a little better protected is behind a wall, the monstrosity that is My Dell Downloads.

Ok, it's not all that bad. It's got a fairly clean interface, and looks easy enough to navigate, if it only worked as advertised. Part of my problem was not knowing what to expect it to do. The other part is that it's just poorly executed. When I can finally get it working, it's just alright with me, oh yeah.

Let me first get to how I got it working. I tried several things, including adding sites to the Trusted security zone, compatibility mode, and turning off the pop-up blocker. I couldn't get the ActiveX to install, and could rarely even get it to prompt me that it wanted to install. The magic finally happened once I added two sites to my Trusted security zone (IE > Internet Options > Security tab), and dropped the zone to the Low security setting:
  • https://pf.us.dell.com
  • https://smartsource.dell.com
In the past, I've used Dell's website to track Dell computers for my job and my side work clients, through the 'My Systems' list (mainly to track warranty status), but in My Dell Downloads you can only add a computer from the computer you're adding. And I'm not currently seeing a way to remove computers once they've been added. For these two reasons, I'd suggest only adding computers you own, or that you are sure will never need to be transferred to someone else's account. I've not tried adding the same computer to multiple Dell accounts, so I can't tell you if that will work. Considering the access it gives to "protected" software, I doubt it will.
(Note: Dell's 'My Systems', as I think it was called, is apparently obsolete, replaced by 'My Products and Services'. Luckily, the first time I accessed it, today while looking for 'My Systems', it "found" and offered to import the old records into the new system. Gee, thanks Dell. Not sure why this wasn't automatic.)
I suppose that once you've successfully installed the ActiveX and added your computer to My Dell downloads, you should bump the Trusted sites zone back up to the default, Medium security level. You can leave the sites in the Trusted list. I plan to edit this post with screenshots of the process once I can gather them properly. I'd love to see replies letting me know about how you make out, if my instructions have helped you, if I have missed anything, or if you found another solution. Let me know!

7 comments:

  1. The same thing has happened to me. I don't know what to do.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Hi Scott
    Thx for your post.
    I have tried the following without positive result. I can't get past the registration-system-scan:
    - Made all Win7 updates
    - using IE 8
    - Turned off the anti-virus
    - Turned off the firewall
    - Turned off the pop-up killer
    - Enabled ActiveX
    - lowered all security to unsafe in IE
    - posted https://pf.us.dell.com and https://smartsource.dell.com as trusted sites In IE

    When clicking the registration-system-scan button at https://smartsource.dell.com about one second after at a split of second some red text appears in a blink and then nothing else happens.

    Do you have any other suggestions?

    Best regards
    Stig Rygaard

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  4. Hi Stig. Sorry for my late reply. Truth is, within a couple weeks of your comment, I went back through My Dell Downloads and started making a bunch of screenshots with the failures and what I could recommend to overcome them. Strangely, the system worked perfectly for me as I added another system. I did it from a different computer, one that I had not made any special configuration for getting this to work. I'd like to think Dell just plain fixed their system, but I'd be darned if I believed that for a second. I hope you finally got yours to work.

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  5. Scott, you're a genius! Thank you so much! It worked for me after applying what you suggested in this article by adding the two sites to my trusted sites and dropping the security level.

    Thanks again.

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