Ok guys, I've installed operating systems hundreds (if not, thousands) of times. I've installed Windows 7 at least 75 times.... this is the first time I've ever run into this problem.
I put the usb drive in to install > setup loads files > brings up blue install screen > HUGE wait time, 5 minutes > Brings up install screen >next> install> HUGE wait time.... 10-15 minutes > next> next> partition HD blah blah> installs quickly> reboots two times while doing various things > gets to "Preparing your computer for its first whatever" HUGE wait time... like I waited 3 hours... then went to bed. This morning.. it's ready.
Now, of course, when I first experienced these wait times, I never waited. I tried installing from a cd, I tried downloading a different cd to install from, I removed hard drives and tried to install on a different one, I tested the cpu, ram, hd's, usb drive, cds, usb ports, cd rom.... I just can't figure out what the hell took it so long.
I've installed Windows 7 on this computer before, and this never happened. Can anyone think of anything that happens at those three steps (initial blue screen with NOTHING on it except the Windows 7 background, after you click "install windows", and during preparing for first boot) that might cause such a problem?