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Windows 7: Using different OS, then restoring Win 7?

13 May 2015   #1
RhinoCan

Windows 7
 
 
Using different OS, then restoring Win 7?

My mother recently bought herself a new notebook and gave me her old Windows 7 machine to use as a spare. I'd like to use her old notebook to run Linux for a project that will take me a few months but I'd also like to be able to restore it to Windows 7 afterwards. Am I correct in assuming that if I simply install Linux over top of Windows, that I will lose Windows permanently as well as any license for Windows 7 that is on the machine? If so, what can I do now, BEFORE erasing Windows 7, to ensure that I can reinstall Windows 7 down the road and once again have a good, licensed copy of Win 7?

The computer came with Windows 7 preinstalled and no Microsoft disks of any kind. I remember making a two or three disk backup/restore disk when she first got it but that is all we did. I don't recall ever seeing any kind of paper license. (The computer is a 4 year old Acer notebook.)


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13 May 2015   #2
Berton

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, Mac OS X 10.10, Linux Mint 17, Windows 10 Pro TP
 
 

Most if not all OEMs include a program that prompts during setup to create the Factory Restore discs. It usually can only be done once but do check the computer for the program to do it, most folks ignore that process but if the HDD totally crashes there may no longer the ability to restore from the partition. If possible make the discs before installing Linux then you can put it back to the day it shipped.

I have Linux Mint on a Desktop and a Notebook but due to loss of the HDDs was able to install HDDs saved from other computers and install Linux, keeping the computers from ending up in the landfill. I foresee no need to put them back to Windows as they are quite usable, have other machines for that.

There should be a Windows 7 [and earlier versions] COA/Certificate of Authenticity sticker with the Product Key somewhere on the case, possibly inside the battery compartment. You could also use Belarc Advisor to extract the key from the Registry. Windows 8/8.1 handles the Product Key in a different manner.
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13 May 2015   #3
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Make an image of the current Win7. That you can always restore.

Imaging with free Macrium

You don't even have to install the Macrium program. Download this .iso from my OneDrive and burn it to CD. If you boot the laptop with that CD, you can image and later restore Win7. You have to image at least the C partition and the 100MB System partition. That can be done in one step.
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13 May 2015   #4
RhinoCan

Windows 7
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Berton View Post
Most if not all OEMs include a program that prompts during setup to create the Factory Restore discs. It usually can only be done once but do check the computer for the program to do it, most folks ignore that process but if the HDD totally crashes there may no longer the ability to restore from the partition. If possible make the discs before installing Linux then you can put it back to the day it shipped.

I have Linux Mint on a Desktop and a Notebook but due to loss of the HDDs was able to install HDDs saved from other computers and install Linux, keeping the computers from ending up in the landfill. I foresee no need to put them back to Windows as they are quite usable, have other machines for that.

There should be a Windows 7 [and earlier versions] COA/Certificate of Authenticity sticker with the Product Key somewhere on the case, possibly inside the battery compartment. You could also use Belarc Advisor to extract the key from the Registry. Windows 8/8.1 handles the Product Key in a different manner.
I helped my mother buy the old notebook and actually *did* create the Factory Restore disks. That was the two or three disk set that I mentioned. Unfortunately, I didn't think to get those disks when I was at her house (in another city) this past weekend and I won't likely be back there for a couple of months. I will tell her to put the disks aside though so that I can get them the next time I'm there.

I looked at the notebook just now and found the sticker with the Product Key on the underside of the case, not in the battery compartment. Luckily, it is still intact and legible. Is that all I really need to reinstall a licensed copy of Win 7 on that machine? If so, what do I do? For instance, let's say I were to install Linux now, finish my project this evening, and then I wanted to put Win 7 back on the machine. How would I get the Windows image to restore? Would I simply be prompted for the Product Key during the installation and then have a fully licensed Windows 7 when I was finished the installation?
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13 May 2015   #5
Berton

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, Mac OS X 10.10, Linux Mint 17, Windows 10 Pro TP
 
 

It might be easier to do the Macrium thing recommended. Not using the OEM's Factory Restore discs is possible with an OEM [System Builder] disc, not the Retail or Upgrade version, and your Product Key should work but you won't have some of the necessary drivers for devices on the motherboard, would have to download them from the brand but would need the Network drivers to get access or do it on another computer. It might be possible to save the DriverStore subFolder under Windows\System32 and point to it during the reinstall and Device Manager, update driver.
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14 May 2015   #6
Andyrids

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 

If you need to use Linux for a project why not use Puppy Linux and install it to a flash drive you can then boot into it just like a live CD however if it is installed on the flash drive you can save any changes you make or files you create whilst using Linux and it will not affect Windows in any way... Puppy Linux is very friendly and all the instructions are clear and simple on how to do this.

There are other options and possibility's if you do not have a flash drive but this is the easiest way to go.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 May 2015   #7
gregrocker

 

If you're happy with the install you have then you can image it and restore the image as suggested already. Macrium makes it easy.

If you have less than a perfect install then I'd use the Product Key on COA sticker to Clean Reinstall Windows 7. The blue link tutorial will explain how to find reinstall disk and then give you the steps, tools and methods that will achieve a perfect install that will stay that way just as long as you stick with them.
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15 May 2015   #8
AddRAM

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Andyrids View Post
If you need to use Linux for a project why not use Puppy Linux and install it to a flash drive you can then boot into it just like a live CD however if it is installed on the flash drive you can save any changes you make or files you create whilst using Linux and it will not affect Windows in any way... Puppy Linux is very friendly and all the instructions are clear and simple on how to do this.

There are other options and possibility's if you do not have a flash drive but this is the easiest way to go.
Great idea, or just buy a small 60 GB ssd for Linux, remove your Windows 7 drive altogether.

Corsair Force LS CSSD-F60GBLSB 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - Newegg.com
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2015   #9
Maltesespace

Windows 10 Pro x64
 
 

OP, if you are doing a Linux project, doing a Clean Install as suggested by gregrocker should be a piece of cake: Since the system is 4 years old I would not recommend using the Factory restore as that is an insecure, bloated, hole-poked install with 4 year old trial softwares, manufacturer bloat and other things that can be done without. All he needs to do is download the drivers from the Acer site, find Windows 7 media to use (if you have media or can borrow media from someone else that isn't Home Premium but another edition of Windows 7, you can use this tutorial, using STAGE ONE only to make that media install all editions of Windows 7, selecting Home Premium when you begin the install. You will need to have used a program like ImgBurn to create an ISO image from the DVD beforehand, and you would need to use it again to burn the ISO back to a new DVD.)
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17 May 2015   #10
alphanumeric

Windows 10 Education 64 bit
 
 

Another option is to buy a spare hard drive. swap it for the factory drive and install Linux on it. Put the factory drive in the bag/box the replacement drive came in until you need it again. Once your done with Linux put the original drive back in. Then put the spare drive in an external enclosure and use it for backup or extra storage. It all depends on how easy it is to get at the hard drive.
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 Using different OS, then restoring Win 7?




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