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Help me start over with a Windows 7 upgrade

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 14, 2010 8:09 AM PDT

Help me start over with a Windows 7 upgrade

I installed the Windows 7 upgrade over the Vista software
that came with my computer using that option, rather than the
option of wiping the HD clean and the reinstalling all other
software after Win 7 was installed. Big mistake!

My experience with Windows 7 has been awful. I'll bet I've
had as many as 20 blue screens while using Win 7, and
probably as many freeze-ups. Even Norton's Utilities advises
me that my "System health is low" and scan the registry
(which I've done many times!)

How can I wipe this hard drive clean and then install my
Windows 7 upgrade now? Will Microsoft allow me a second try
using the Win 7 upgrade that I've bought and used once
already? Thanks for any advice.

--Submitted by Richard K. of Medford, Oregon

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Starting over... --Submitted by Watzman

Starting over... --Submitted by Wolfie2k5

Yes you can. Here's how to clean-install Windows 7 upgrade. --Submitted by NoriNY

Your answer is----YES! --Submitted by warpete

Thanks to all who contributed!

If you have any additional advice or tip that you'd like share with Richard please click on the reply link and submit it. Please be as detailed as possbile when providing a solution. Thank you!
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Upgrading to Windows 7
by Bubbles1142 / May 14, 2010 9:49 AM PDT

Hi, should you read your own question as posted on the inquiry, you have actually answered your own question. You stated that you added the upgrade over the existing Vista installation. We all know Vista was fraught with vices enumerable. So why would any one compound the problem by doing an upgrade installation over the top of it. Try again, some Windows Editions will allow a clean installation from an Upgrade Disk. If not, simply reinstall Windows Vista and NOTHING ELSE. Just the bare bones and then at that point do your UPGRADE, this time however, upgrade a new copy (deleting the old Vista). I did this personally & have never looked back. Good luck but try a clean installation first direct from the U/G Disk. <>

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Upgrade Vista to Win 7
by cleomc / May 14, 2010 9:49 AM PDT

You actually got farther than I did. I got an hour and a half into this upgrade and ran imto a message that the upgrade had failed and that Windows would now run the computer back to where I started.

Instead, the computer went into a restart loop, would restart for a few seconds, then stop and restart again. I could not boot up at all.

Microsoft tried, but couldn't find a way to help, so they sent me gratis a disc with the Win 7 program.

What you can do is run a recovry, taking your hard disc down to the original condition when you bought the computer. Im other words, loaded with Vista, Internet Explorer, a few factory loaded programs. Then install Win 7. Maybe Microsoft will give you a free program. They should, along with an apology.

This procedure will, of course, take away your data, programs, and settings. So backup what you can. George

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Backup > Fresh Install > Upgrade
by Rogem / May 14, 2010 9:51 AM PDT

I had a similar problem (Excluding the blue screens) when I upgraded a friends laptop to windows 7. I found doing a backup than doing a fresh install made windows 7 run correctly.
Then I noticed it was the upgrade version, so I put the windows 7 disc in and selected "Upgrade now". After windows 7 reinstalled everything seemed to run correctly.

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You said it!
by Vickeych / May 29, 2010 11:08 PM PDT

You hits the point! I agree with you 100%.

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Format the hard drive
by xlrb / May 14, 2010 9:56 AM PDT

Do a complete format of the hard drive W7 is to be installed on and try again after checking your BIOS to see if everything is as it is supposed to be. If you don't have a manual, if possible download the manual for your motherboard and check to see if BIOS is set up correctly.

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WIN 7 Update
by cgallaway / May 14, 2010 10:01 AM PDT

Item #1 look at hardware issues: look at the box for a full version of Windows 7 and figure out if your computer meets all the specs. Remember, the specs are minimum, so if you want it to run well, make sure you have about 2 times the minimum ram.

2)Chances are, since it is an upgrade disc, you will need to have windows Vista on your computer before upgrading it to windows 7. Personally, I would try to rid yourself of anything Norton, as it is a big resource hog.

3)Depending on how long it's been since you purchased this computer, take it back and get one with the full version of Win 7. A computer that was made for Win 7 and built with the hardware to use Win7.

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by mrpaul / May 14, 2010 10:14 AM PDT
In reply to: WIN 7 Update

Norton no longer is a resource hog as it was for years. If you do your research you will find that Norton is a much smaller user of space.

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Try it again...
by fjord_fox / May 14, 2010 10:09 AM PDT

I think your best bet would be to restore your computer to its original manufacturer's settings and then try again. The main reason is that you are saying that you have an UPGRADE version, and that will not allow you to install from a clean hard drive. The second reason is that you would not have any of the needed drivers, utilities, games, and extras that your manufacturer had on the computer when you bought it. Maybe you don't need the rest, but you DO need the drivers!

Unfortunately, you are not telling us what make or model the computer is, so I cannot tell you where to find it on their webpage, but you should be able to find out information as to how to restore the original factory settings there. In most cases, once you are at their webpage, click on Technical Support, and then click on a link that says something about downloads. Look for a manual for your model and find out how to recover it to factory settings. This would make it the way it was out of the box when you bought it. They would probably have a catchy name for it. For example, my Acer Aspire laptop calls it "Acer eRecovery Management".

Even if you have already formatted your hard drive, it may still be possible to run this program. On most computers or laptops, it is started by pressing one of the F-- keys at startup. Read your manual to find out which key to press.

Once you have restored it to the way it was when you bought it, THEN try to do your Windows 7 Upgrade. My bet is that you had some malware or something on it before you tried it last time, and that is why you are getting the blue screens. If you upgrade it with Vista freshly installed, you may find it working a lot better.

~ Barry

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Reinstalling Windows 7 Upgrade
by mrpaul / May 14, 2010 10:12 AM PDT

You should first do a backup of any important files you want to preserve, and then do a reinstall of your original Windows Vista installation disk. This will wipe your hard drive clean, then when you do the Windows 7 upgrade, you won't be faced with problems which were previously causing you problems. This should solve whatever conflicts you previously had.

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Back Up??
by alza68 / May 15, 2010 5:35 PM PDT

Everybody states backup generously. Is backing up files and documents in windowsXP and restoring this in windows7 likely with the same backup files from XP? I am dubious of this fact.

I had an overwhelming experience when I changed my operating system from windows-98 to XP. The backed up files from the windows-98 were never recognized by XP. I endeavored several futile attempts to restore the same and eventually discarded the concept.

I assume backing up or saving files in one OS i.e. XP can be restored by the same OS (XP alone and not windows-7). Well...! is there a point to backup these files if the scenario is not conducive? Unless these files are to be restored and employed in XP on a different computer.


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Backing up...
by Wolfie2k5 / May 16, 2010 6:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Back Up??

One of the more annoying things Microsoft tends to do with backups - each version of Windows has a different, incompatible format. That is why you NEVER use Windows backup utility to back your stuff up especially during an upgrade.

If you have so much you need to use compression, use WinZip or 7Zip or something. At least the ZIP format is compatible between different versions. ALWAYS put your data on external media.

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Thank you
by alza68 / May 16, 2010 1:53 PM PDT
In reply to: Backing up...

Thank you very much for the piece of information on backing up. I had lost several files by this conversion, i.e. Windows-98 to XP.I had a window-98 backed up file till a yearbefore. Since there was no way to restore those file from this, had deleted the same to free the space. Therefore, I found this backing up files to be quite a ridiculous notion. Frankly, I employed the windows backing up utility.

My approach would be cautious in future, as there there is no assurance these backed files from one window OS can be restored on another.

Thank you again.


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You (ve) got that right
by hollyvh / May 21, 2010 11:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Backing up...

One of the most annoying things about Microsoft is
Money Money Money Money !
Money !
Pink Floyd ?

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Win 7 Upgrade OK
by birite / May 14, 2010 10:20 AM PDT

Yes, MS will allow you to reinstall on your computer. When you do so you will have to provide your original registration number for XP so the upgrade will install but it will go in as a virgin install on a wiped drive. If for some reason it doesn't want to pass the windows test on registration because it was previously registered, they will give you a number to call, you do so, they give you a new number and it will register just fine. They understand this happens. What would happen had you lost a hard drive? Windows is licensed to your computer.

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They almost certainly will
by batmanone3 / May 14, 2010 10:22 AM PDT

if you need to wipe your hard drive and start over, your new activation often willgo through with no problem. The worst that's ever happened to me is that when I tried to activate I was instructed to call Microsoft. Then, after a short hold time, I was given a little bit of the third degree and once they were satisfied that YES it was my copy od Windows and YES this is just abeipeban reinstall on the same machine, the CSR read me an activation code. Once that was entered I was off to the races. In years past, Microsoft suffered some strong backlash as the result of thier Draconian policies on activation. Now, unless you raise some real red flag with them, the customerbis almost always given the benefit of the doubt.

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by annacide / May 14, 2010 10:32 AM PDT

ok here is your problem is vista left code on your windows 7 partion since you did not do a clean install. So win 7 is coded to be able to use vista drivers so if vista drivers are present they will be used. As most it people like me know that was a caviot to win 7 bata testing for getting perfials going. Ok now the fix you need to clean install win 7. Ok first you have the update version of win 7. You can do a clean install on it. The main differance is when u put in the lince code. Make shure that all mother borad drivers are win 7 version and any antivous aka AVG and what not. After that run the win 7 disk in boot mode. Then install as normal till win will tell you need to use the advanced mode which will give you a very nice gui partion manager. Win 7 will make a 100 meg un formated area on your hd this is normal do not delete then you cam make your c:\ drive with the new buttion on the bottem and if you fell real advionturis you can set up a drive to act as your virtual drive. Use 2x of total ram on system. then make the reast as c: format both and install win 7 on the bigger drive.
After that let win 7 run and do it's thing then it will restart then move to the name you pc and what not. Ok here is the get around when it asks u to put in your lince code Dont and un check the actavite whrn u get online and finish. Ok after the first startup you will get the normail screen in win 7. Go to the System screen using computer r click propites you will see at the bottem of the screen enter new lince code click on that and enter your update lince number now. Win 7 will do the activaton dance as long you on internet. After that walla leagel copy love and install drivers you need and programs. If you were adventrious you will need to go to advanced settings and change your virtural disk to that drive you ctrated earlyer. Other wise run windiows up date remove win 7 dvd and enjoy.

Blessed be Annamarie

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RE: Re-install win7 upgrade
by bringit2me / May 14, 2010 10:33 AM PDT

Hi there! Ok, so yes you can re-install your upgrade over the win7 upgrade. I have done this 3 times already. So next you want to be sure you have everything you "need" such as files or any other data
backed up. Now decide what programs you need on the new refreshed install OS. You will of course need your product key. If you bought form the Download store at microsoft, you simply need to sign in your Live ID and your account should be there with any recent purchases,inc win7. If you have the retail disc- simply use that and boot to it. At boot you may need to choose to go to your optical drive on some systems. You will want to choose clean install, which of course will render remaining data as wiped out. Just follow the routine from there. NOW, I will mention perhaps the best aspect of Win 7 or any win ver OS- This OS has built-in disc imaging of your system! Highly recommended to do this! Before a casual customer had to BUY additional software to do this-not now. Find in system tools.
make an original copy to restore your exact system, if this happens again, then occasionally repeat as you gather more data on your system. this can take several discs ( maybe 5 or so ). but it is a life saver in case of disaster.

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by vc-myvc / May 21, 2010 10:06 PM PDT

Hello everybody. Just a warning:
Pretty good upgrade vista ==> win 7 softaware for laptops and desktops. Full first-aid documentation + tech support.
DON'T bother to buy it. Exists as a TORRENT.
Hope my post has some value for some of you CNETers....

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Starting over ....
by Watzman / May 14, 2010 10:34 AM PDT

Not really a problem; you should be able to do this easily AND it's legal, even if you have to use the "double install" trick (it's legal because even if you don't use it, you DO (did) have a qualifying previous operating system). Windows SHOULD recognize the PC as the same PC on which that same product key was previously installed, and you SHOULD not have any activation problems. As long as it's the same product key on the same hardware, you are allowed an infinite number of reinstallations.

Ok, to start:

1. Save everything (ideally) or, if that is not possible, save everything you think that you might need.

2. After Windows 7 is installed, you are going to need to reinstall all of your applications programs from their original media, and you are going to need Windows 7 drivers for all of your hardware. Now is a good time to collect those.

3. Run the Office settings savings tool for the version of office that you have to save your office settings (on office 2003, it's the "Office 2003 Save My settings Wizard" and it produces an OPS file.

4. Run the Windows easy transfer tool and, likewise, save your settings. I would save settings only, and not any files. Or, if you think that your settings are badly screwed up, skip this step.

5. Boot from the Windows 7 DVD and do a "clean install". There are "advanced options" that will let you destroy existing partitions, if any, which I would recommend if you are sure that you have saved everything necessary back at the beginning.

6. If you have a product key that won't allow a clean install (the message will be something like "this product key does not allow a clean install") ... well, you can do one anyway. Basically, in this case, you do an install without entering ANY product key and you get a "30-day trial version". That's fine. Make this, still, a "clean install". Don't worry about installing ANY drivers, because in the next step we will "blow away" this install anyway. IMPORTANT: Choose the same "Edition" (Home Premium, Business, Ultimate .... whatever you have) that your product key is for, even though you won't even be entering it.

6a. If you had to use the step 5 process of the previous paragraph, after the install is done and working, do ANOTHER install, this time an "upgrade" install (installing Windows 7 over itself). This time you will enter your product key normally when asked.

[for more information on this somewhat convoluted process, see:

Note that there is some question about whether this is legal in some situations. But in your case, you DID have a qualifying installation of Windows Vista, so it definitely IS legal, based on your description of your situation.]

Ok, now you will have a new, clean installation of Windows 7.

At this point, before you do anything else, if you are sure that you saved everything that you needed, get rid of the folder "Windows.old" IF THERE IS ONE. This will be (if it exists) a saved copy of the old "Windows 7 over Vista" system. Make it gone. If you have it, and if you have trouble erasing it, see:

Note, again, when you installed Windows 7 by booting from the Windows 7 media, you should have done a "clean" or "full" install, NOT an "upgrade".

Now what's left is installing all of the necessary drivers, all of the "Windows Updates" and service packs, then reinstalling all of your applications and restoring their data (which you saved before starting). All of this can be very time consuming (hours to days) but if you want a truly clean install, that's what you have to do.

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by barny12345 / May 21, 2010 3:43 PM PDT
In reply to: Starting over ....

Get rid of Norton it causes more problems than it fixes

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by picklefinder / May 21, 2010 11:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Starting over ....

Thanks Watzman!!

I had no problem with my upgrade install, but that little gem about the windows.old file was GREAT. I had 2 windows old files, from a convoluted changed from Vista Ultimate32 to 7pro 32 to 7 pro 64. ( and they said it couldn't be done with and upgrade CD, HAH.. fie on you MS) . I couldn't clean them out entirely , as I didn't have the required previledges????. I built the box!!!. Gave me another 68gb of disk space, and a little more peace of mind,

Thanks Again!!!

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Stay away from Norton...
by gulfcoastfella / May 14, 2010 10:43 AM PDT

I noticed you use Norton products; I used Norton until 360 came out and turned my computer into an expensive brick. 360 attacked my computer like it was a virus, and my computer slowly choked to death. It turned out that removing the Norton software was nearly impossible, and I only got free of Norton when I bought a new computer and installed AVG instead. Norton may not be causing your problems, but I thought I'd chime in when I saw you were using Norton products.

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New Computer ?
by Ferretkeeper / May 21, 2010 9:50 AM PDT

I totally agree about staying away from Norton, but you did not have to buy a new computer. All you needed was a new HDD, or perhaps not even that. If your original drive was partitioned you could have moved any files you wished to keep from the partition the OS was installed on (commonly drive C:) to the secondary partition, then reformatted C: and reinstalled an OS, which would wipe any Norton muck. With a new drive (great deals are available on 2TBs), create a 100GB part. for the OS and program files at installation; partition and format the rest of the drive as you require. A good idea is to keep your programs in an external drive,so you can run them on another machine. If you do not have it, get a partition management program, such as Paragon P M . An alternate way to lose Norton would have been to use windows search, all files and folders, enter Norton in the box, and when the results come up, select all then delete. If this leaves some files, or does not allow the operation, delete them individually.

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Problems with Windows 7 upgrade
by fahrm / May 14, 2010 10:47 AM PDT

Did you check to make sure all your software and drivers are compatible with Windows 7?

If you can find no logical reason for the problem,the safest way to try to redo the Windows 7 upgrade, assuming you have all the installation discs, would be to wipe your disc clean, and reinstall Vista, then proceed with the upgrade.

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Reinstall Windows 7
by fahrm / May 14, 2010 11:56 AM PDT

I see the way to go is without Vista in the picture. I agree that a clean install of Windows7 is the best. I even think that was often the most recommended procedure.

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Microsoft Vista to W7 upgrade
by fahrm / May 15, 2010 6:06 AM PDT
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A clean install from a windows 7 upgrade pack IS possible
by PenguinMan98 / May 14, 2010 10:48 AM PDT

I should know, I've done it. What I did was this:

First understand that all windows 7 install disks have the same installer. The difference between 'upgrade' and 'full install' is the keycode you're given.

1: Wipe the HDD
2: Insert the upgrade CD and perform an install. When you get to the part where it asks for a registration code, leave it blank and continue.

Now you have 7 installed but it won't work properly until you unlock it. However, your code is an upgrade code, not a full install code so it won't work. Get your registration code for your earlier Windows version ready before you continue.

3: call Microsoft Windows Support (866) 234-6020
4: tell them you are performing a clean install using your upgrade code and that you need assistance. Give them your validation key from your previous Windows version.
5: Follow their instructions.

They will guide you through running a few programs from the Windows 'Run' menu and they will give you some codes to enter to unlock the various functions of Windows. At the end you will

6: Activate the Windows 7 install using your 'upgrade' key.

In all the process took me about 10-15 minutes once I called Microsoft.

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Win7 clean install
by Macsbeach98 / May 21, 2010 5:55 PM PDT

You dont have to call microsoft to clean install the upgrade version you dont even need to have an earlier version on hand although you you are supposed to legally own a copy of vista. If you install it with out entering the product key and then when it gets to the desktop click on your CDdrive and click on setup it will reinstall over itself. And this time put in your product key and it will register at the ebnd with out a problem.

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You can do a clean install with Upgrade media.
by Zorched / May 14, 2010 10:49 AM PDT

Microsoft will allow you to do a clean install on a system with upgrade media, as long as you have an operating system in your possession for that system that qualifies for the upgrade.

See this article at CNet's sister site for clarification:

Now, all you have to do is copy your personal docs off your system, onto a Flash drive, external hard drive or whatever other media works. Then, download all the windows 7 drivers for your hardware, if available, from the manufacturer of the system hardware. If it's Dell, go to Dell's web site. Move these driver files to another Flash drive or similar media.

Then, boot from the windows 7 upgrade disc and do a Custom install, choosing to delete and recreate the partition that the OS is currently on.

Once the install is complete, use the driver install files you downloaded to install drivers for the hardware. The drivers that come on the windows 7 disc are only sufficient to get the system up and running, and will not provide the best performance for your system.

Good luck!

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by peggolina / June 10, 2010 4:58 AM PDT


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