If you want to move from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7, this blog post should help you get your computer up and running—without any hassles. Wiping your hard disk and installing a new operating system (OS) is often very scary, but this step-by-step guide should help streamline the process.
What is a clean install?
The TuneUp Blog described an upgrade installation in the last post. The alternative to that is a clean install of Windows 7, in which you essentially wipe your hard disk clean and start from scratch. As discussed in an earlier blog post, upgrading old Windows Vista systems is easy—but not the ideal process for end-users. Although you might save a couple of hours by taking the upgrade route, system performance can take a severe hit. If you’re using Windows XP, the clean install is your only option; an upgrade to Windows 7 is not allowed.
Preparing for Windows 7
The first step is to check if your computer is capable of running Windows 7 (We recommend that you read about the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor). If the Upgrade Advisor mentions a possible incompatibility, check the hardware or software manufacturer’s Web site, and see if there’s an updated driver or program patch that ensures Windows 7 compatibility. Don’t worry—nearly all of the hardware and software that works with Windows Vista will work with Windows 7, since the underlying architecture has not changed significantly.
In preparation for Windows 7, make sure you have the following ready:
- An external hard disk or a second partition. It is important that you save photos, music, documents, and any other important files to this drive. Use the export function of your e-mail client and your Internet browser to save your e-mails and favorites, respectively. Also, be sure to check the “C:\Program Files” directory for any important folders you might want to keep.
- All of your important programs in installable form. Go to the “Programs” category on the Windows Control Panel, and check that you have all of the important programs listed there or saved on a DVD or as an installer file.
- An image of your entire computer. In case something should go wrong, it is always advisable to have a complete backup of your system. One recommended tool for images is Macrium Reflect, and best of all—it’s free! Save your images to a DVD or external hard disk, as well.
The clean installation process
- Start your computer and insert the Windows 7 disc. When the message “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD…” appears, hit a key, and read step 2. If this does not happen, you need to enter your computer’s BIOS and make sure that your PC boots up from your DVD drive. To access the BIOS, press F2 or DEL (or see the manual or on-screen text for other instructions). Once you’re there, try to find the boot priority order; for example, on one of our test machines the menu is just called “Boot”. Go to “Boot Device Priority” (or something similar), and select the CD or DVD drive. Save these settings, and start the setup!
- After a couple of moments, the Windows 7 setup will start. Click “Next”, and then “Install now”. Select “I accept the license terms”, and click on “Next”. To perform the clean installation, select “Custom (advanced)”.
- Select your main system drive (usually Disk 0 Partition 1), and click “Format”. This will delete all of your data and the previous Windows version.
- Click “OK” and “Next” to start the installation. This process usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the performance of your computer. After the setup, enter your user name and computer name. (This is the name that will appear for other PCs on the same network.) In the next step, enter your password.
- At the end of the process, simply type in your Windows product key, and click “Next”. Then make sure that Windows automatically downloads updates. To do that, click “Use recommended settings”; then click on “Next” to confirm the time and date settings, if they are correct. In the next step of the assistant, select the network security settings. If you select “Home network” or “Work network”, you will be able to see other computers, and they will be able to see your PC as well. If you’re on the go, hit “Public network”.
- After a couple of moments, you will see your clean Windows 7 desktop. The first thing you need to do is go online and check for Windows Updates. Simply click on the start button, and select “All Programs”. Click “Windows Update”, and hit “Check for updates”. After you’ve selected “Install updates”, Windows 7 will automatically download and install all of the necessary drivers and Windows Updates.
- Now it is time for you to reinstall all of the important programs you need and copy your data back on to the computer.
Wasn’t that easy? After only a few clicks, you are now working with Windows 7! Don’t forget to keep your Windows 7 system fresh—stay tuned for more tips and tricks from the authors of the TuneUp Blog.
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