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Windows 7: Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7



Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7

How to Clean Reinstall a Factory OEM Windows 7
Published by gregrocker
15 Mar 2012
Published by

How to Clean Reinstall a Factory OEM Windows 7

information   Information
A clean reinstall is often better than getting a new computer since most PC's come larded with sponsor's bloatware and duplicate utilities that interfere with much better versions built into Windows 7. For this reason most tech enthusiasts clean reinstall using the Product Key on the COA sticker affixed to machine.


Please read over all steps to be sure you understand them before beginning. Ask back any questions in the Comments section below. It is important, for example, to understand exactly how drivers are handled in the first mostly driver-complete OS.
1. If needed download the latest official Win7 OS installer ISO file with SP1 and Media Refresh for your 32-bit or 64-bit licensed Windows version. If your download is unavailable, download another version and unlock all versions with eicfg removal tool.
You can slipstream the latest Updates into the installer ISO to save at least an hour's Updating after install using Update 7 installation media.
However it may take an hour to do this so consider how much you want this.

If the licensed OS printed on the COA sticker on bottom is Home Basic or Starter then download Home Premium, run the eicfg removal tool to unlock all versions, later during install choose the licensed version from menu.
2. Burn ISO to DVD or write to USB flash stick (minimum size of 4GB required) using Windows 7 USB-DVD Download Tool.

3. Back up your files externally by copying your named User account or active User folders to another HD, external drive, flash stick or disk. Don't forget to export your browser bookmarks first.

  • Backup Quickbooks 2010+ Company files from User/Public/Documents, google your version's file location, or run a QB backup, De-authorize I-Tunes.
4. Make your Recovery Disks so you have a path back to factory condition, following the steps given in your PC's setup literature or in the Manual located on the Support Downloads webpage for your model computer. As an alternative to Recovery Disks you can save a Windows 7 Backup Image or Macrium Image of the entire HD.
● If you have a Recovery or OEM tools partition, these may not run after clean reinstall so be sure to make your Recovery Disks.

● You can wait until afterwards to see if Recovery or (Diagnostics) Tools partitions will run from boot to decide if you want to delete those partitions and recover the space into C or elsewhere (using Step 3 here).
5. Run an audit of hardware and software including installed Product Keys using Belarc Advisor. The Windows 7 Product Key will be a batch key used at factory if it has not been activated yet from COA sticker.
See also: Product Key Number for Windows 7 - Find and See
6. Write down the Product Key from COA sticker located on back or side of PC tower, bottom or under battery of notebook. Make sure you get the characters correct as this is a main cause of activation failure. You can input or Skip the key during install then afterwards activate at Control Panel>System, which may require a quick robocall. The COA sticker looks like this:
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7. Gather your program installers. For those lacking disks, you may find them on the program's Support Downloads webpage. Favorite pre-installed apps may be found on the Downloads webpage for your model computer or manufacturer-provided Apps Disk. Others may be found by googling. Some pre-installed apps may not be available for clean reinstall - HP owners see additional note at bottom.
● Many of the favorite apps needed and desired for reinstall are available in the terrific app Ninite - Install or Update Multiple Apps at Once.

● Just in case, save in advance your Wireless or Ethernet LAN (wired) driver in your backup so if it isn't provided during install you can install it to get online quickly - these can be found on the Support Downloads webpage for your model PC. The exact make/model will be listed in your Device Manager.
8. Unplug all other HD's and peripherals except ethernet (to increase chances of it starting up connected), Boot the Windows 7 installer, choose Custom Install, then Drive Options (Advanced) to Delete all partitions not needed, repartition and format as shown in Steps 7 and 8 of Clean Install Windows 7.
  • Whether to use more than one partition depends largely on if you want your data in the OS partition, or have it linked from another partition to make C partition backup image smaller - this way if Windows 7 becomes irreparable you can re-image the OS/Programs to C and the data will be current and waiting in its own partition. More about Windows 7 backup imaging and creating a data partition later.
● If you don't want to keep any partitions but also don't have a new partition scheme in mind, just click Next after Deleting all to let the installer create and format your installation partition for you. Ignore the small boot partition which is created.

● Until Windows 7 installer is updated with USB3 drivers use a USB2 port for flash install or load the USB3 driver from the PC's Support Downloads webpage when prompted during install. If you're prompted for drivers for any other reason during install it almost always means a bad installer, make another one.

● If you have an EFI BIOS, you may need to follow the special steps for install to UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) - Install Windows 7 with - Windows 7 Forums or to Bypass UEFI to Install WIn7, and UEFI Bootable USB Flash Drive - Create in Windows.
9. The installer is mostly driver-complete, with newer arriving quickly via Windows Updates. So after install connect to your network, after installing LAN driver if necessary, enable hardware driver auto-updating, open Windows Update to Check for Updates, install all rounds of Important and Optional Updates. After requested reboots, go back again to Check for Updates until there are no more.

10. Any drivers still missing in Device Manager after all Updates are installed can be found on the Support Downloads webpage for your model computer or device, along with other OEM software which you can also wait to see if you need. Driver Install - Device Manager
● I would not replace any drivers given by the installer or Windows Update unless performance problems point to that specific driver. We can help you troubleshoot these issues.

● "Standard VGA" Display driver is a placeholder driver which only should be used when no other possible driver will install. So if Updates doesn't provide a better driver import it from the model's Support Downloads webpage - even Vista, or if necessary XP drivers installed in Compatibility Mode.

Unknown Devices are often card readers, or may be revealed by a function still missing on the PC such as laptop function keys or keyboard lighting, or can be traced using Device Manager - Finding Unknown Devices - Windows 7 Help Forums

Co-processor, SM Bus controller, USB and Storage controllers are often elements of the chipset. If no chipset is posted on your model's Downloads page, ask in our Drivers forum. You can also trace any missing driver using Hardware Identification.

I would not re-import any of the OEM software until you run for awhile to know for sure you need it. There may be patches on the Support Downloads webpage needed to improve performance so browse them to be aware what's available. But re-installing any OEM crapware besides that which is absolutely needed for good performance or a function you need defeats the purpose of a Clean Reinstall.
11. Install programs slowly over time to gauge performance changes after each. You can roll back most any Program install or Update(s) using System Restore.
Install the latest Adobe Reader and Flash Player from Adobe - Downloads. I no longer recommend installing Java unless you know you need it or are prompted to install it to run a program, as it is an infection path.
12. Don't let any programs write themselves into msconfig>Startup as they slow startup, become freeloaders on your RAM/CPU, can spy on you and cause conflicts.
● As illustrated in Startup Programs - Change uncheck everything except AV, gadgets (aka "sidebar"), Sync program in msconfig>Startup.

● Then after reboots do the same in msconfig>Services after checking the box to "Hide All MS Services."

● Check back with both lists periodically to see if anything writes itself back in, turn it off in its Program Preferences.

● If you have any questions about a listing, Google it to learn what it does.

● However I would not install Google programs which are relentless spyware. Only use the stable Google search box in your browser and don't stay signed into any Google web apps.

● Avoid spyware tracking cookies placing interest ads by Opting Out of Network Advertising.

● The most important thing you can do to avoid spyware creeping in is to watch your program installs like a hawk at every step because programs have found ingenious ways to sneak in spyware with tricky checkbox choices, even in the License Agreement. I always do a Custom install and only allow the features I know I want, later removing any extra in Control Panel>Programs and by running a full Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware scan which roots them out as deep as they can go.

● Keep an eye also on your Browser Add-Ons to only allow the ones you know you want or are required to make a page display correctly, including Flash, Shockwave, WMP or Quicktime plug-in, Silverlight. Also under Add-Ons Monitor search services to only allow Google in the stable browser search box.
13. Use a lightweight free AV like Microsoft Security Essentials which works perfectly with the Windows 7 Firewall. If you're prone to infection add the paid real-time protection for Malwarebytes, otherwise run its excellent free scanner as needed.

14. To copy your files into the new install, open the storage folder, open each User folder (Documents, Pictures, etc.), from the Organize tab Select All, then drag the group to the corresponding folder on Explorer bar at left. Wait until the bar stops unfolding and hypertext confirms the copy location before releasing the left click. Do not copy over hidden AppData folders from User Accounts as these are a corruption path.

  • If you're using a separate data partition copy your User folders to it, then rightclick each to link it to the related Library - Include a Folder - Windows 7 Forums. Keep the empty C User folder in each library so you can easily see if something lands there and simply drag it to the linked User folder.
● The User Favorites folder will populate IE Bookmarks. Import another browser's Bookmarks from HTML file backed up previously. Copy Quickbooks and other Program data into it's default folder location.
15. Activation at Control Panel>System may require a robocall to MS the first time to record your hardware signature in their servers. It will always work as long as you install the correct version and input the key accurately.

16. On my installs users are most impressed by the spectacular beauty of the collected national editions of Windows 7 backgrounds as an Aero slideshow. Download using browser 120 Original Windows 7 High Resolution Scenery Regional Wallpapers Free Download My Digital Life, unzip using 7Zip, empty each folder into a new Backgrounds folder. Type Personalize in Start search box, choose Windows 7 Aero Theme, from Slide Show link Browse to Pictures Location, choose Backgrounds, Select All as a 30 minute slideshow.

17. When finished, clean and order the HD perfectly using state-of-the-art free CCleaner "Run Cleaner" button and Registry tab.
● I also recommend running Puran free boot-time defragger + Full Disk Check (after checking Intelligent Optimizer on Additional Operations tab) for state-of-the-art defrag which includes System files. Do not defrag an SSD!

● Periodically run both of the above as well as a full scan with free Malwarebytes and SUPERAntiSpyware on-demand scanners, declining the trial unless you're prone to infection in which case both are excellent protection.

● Periodically running the online Secunia Free Online Software Inspector will clue you to programs needing updating and even provide the links.
18. Take advantage of the perfected Power Options in Windows 7 to set the Balanced Plan to Sleep at 30, Hibernate at 45-90, with Hybrid Sleep enabled. You can walk away and be assured your work will be there if you come back in 20 minutes or 20 days.

19. Finally, save a Windows 7 Backup image to external or another internal HD so you never have to reinstall again - just do a System Image Recovery to the HD or it's replacement from booted DVD/Repair CD and the stored image.

20. Henceforth if required to contact your OEM Tech Support do not tell them you Clean Reinstalled but troubleshoot as if you have the factory install. Otherwise they may refuse to support Clean Reinstall but cannot void Hardware warranty. If you ship the unit back for repair under Hardware warranty save a Windows 7 backup image and then run Factory Recovery beforehand.

21. After reinstall I always scan the logs to resolve repeat errors, check System Resources, search for Problem solutions, Generate a System Health Report - as shown in these basic Troubleshooting Steps for Windows 7 to bookmark.
Note   Note

Special notes for HP owners:

On newer models HP Recovery may offer a Minimized OS Recovery option when booting from F11, which retains only the OS, Recovery Manager, HP Support Asst, and HP Wireless LAN. This is as close to a clean reinstall as you can get without doing one yourself.

● If you clean reinstall only to C and leave all other partitions intact, F11 Recovery key should still work later if you need it. The helpful hardware diagnostics also listed on the ESC or F9 boot menu may also run after reinstall so if they will run now from boot, I would save the small HP Tools partition to see if they remain bootable after install.

● Problems with volume control lighting and HP Quick Launch buttons have been dealt with here and here.

Specific HP software which might be worth reimporting is discussed in HP Bloatware, or useful system utilities?

Some HP Recovery disks can have their files extracted to access favorite program installers using Accessing HP Recovery Disc Files | directedge.us

Special notes for Dell owners:

If your Recovery partition is triggered at boot from the F8 System Recovery Options then it will no longer run after clean reinstall, so make your Recovery disks first, delete Recovery partition during reinstall.

●The bootable Dell Diagnostics tools, listed as both Diagnostics and Utility Partition on the F12 boot menu key, often will run after Reinstall so it is worth saving if it will boot - try it now to test your hardware and if it works. If not you can run the tests from online at Dell PC Diagnostics | Dell US

●Useful tips for Dell re-installation plus access to their forums to resolve questions can be found at Dell Community


Special Note for Sony Vaio Owners:

Software which enables Fkey functions and illumination must be reinstalled from the Sony Support Downloads webpage in the order as shown here: Function keys don't work after clean install - Windows 7 Forums


Special Note for Samsung Owners:

Software which enables Fkey functions and illumination may be labeled Easy Display Manager.

Special Note to Acer Owners

There is an OEM Preload folder in the C:/ drive that holds all the pre loaded software, including the eRecovery software.

Special Note for Lenovo Owners

The only OEM software I've found to be valuable is Power Management's features to preserve battery by maintaining only 60% charge when plugged in, and fan reversal to clean out dust. Download from your model's Support Downloads webpage or Power Manager for Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit), Vista (32-bit, 64-bit) - Notebook

At least for the G570 our colleague Lady Fitzgerald reports that both the Power Manager and Boot Optimizer make keeping the Factory Install worthwhile.


Office Word version: Clean Reinstall.docx




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15 Mar 2012   #1
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
 
 

Well done, Greg. A great tut on an important matter.

Thanks.

Kari

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Mar 2012   #2
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Great, I kept wondering when you are going to put it together.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2012   #3
Golden

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64 Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Tri-Boot
 
 

You finally did it! Great work Greg - welcome to tut-world.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2012   #4
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

Thanks, guys. Had been using a post I've linked countless times because I thought that it is more a compendium of other tutorials than one of my own.

But Shawn said it qualifies so here it is.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Apr 2012   #5
RocketsFan

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Absolutely fantastic tutorial thread. I have successfully clean reinstalled Windows 7 Home Premium to my new Acer laptop.

A sincere thank you to gregrocker for posting this.

I do have one question. When I resintalled, I formatted the primary partition and reinstalled without a hitch. However, I did notice two smaller partitions that I am assuming hold the hidden factory backup? Do I need these or may I also format them and backup the new clean ISO to them? I am also creating DVD backups off the new clean ISO.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Apr 2012   #6
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

Hi Rocketsfan -

Can you post back a screenshot of your maximized Disk Management drive map, using the Snipping Tool in Start Menu? Disk Management - Post a Screen Capture Image

On Acer it's unlikely Factory Recovery or any OEM partition is still functional or needed, so as dealt with in the tutorial I would consider deleting them.

You can now recover the space using Disk Management to Delete and Extend C to the right, or free Partition Wizard bootable CD to Resize C to the left.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Apr 2012   #7
RocketsFan

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Here is my Disk Management drive map. Your help and advice is greatly appreciated!

Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7-discmgmt.jpg


My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Apr 2012   #8
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 

Did you keep the Recovery partition to see if it will still run after Clean Reinstall?
Quote:
You can wait until afterwards to see if Recovery or Tools will run from boot to decide if you want to delete those partitions and recover the space into C or elsewhere.
If so then test using it's hotkey at boot as given here: Acer Support: Restoring a system to factory load.

If it will cue up then you can keep it, but if it's lost ability to boot then you can either leave it or recover the space using free Partition Wizard bootable CD: boot CD, rightclick Recovery to Delete, click OK. rightclick System Reserved to Resize, left click grab the partition and slide it intact all the way to the left side of HD, click OK. Then rightlclick C to Resize, slide left border all the way to the left, click OK, Apply all steps.

It may require repair using Rebuild MBR from PW Disk tab when you Resize on the boot sector. I hardly think it's worth the 16gb unless you want to play with it. Back up your files.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Apr 2012   #9
RocketsFan

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
Did you keep the Recovery partition to see if it will still run after Clean Reinstall?
Quote:
You can wait until afterwards to see if Recovery or Tools will run from boot to decide if you want to delete those partitions and recover the space into C or elsewhere.
If so then test using it's hotkey at boot as given here: Acer Support: Restoring a system to factory load.

If it will cue up then you can keep it, but if it's lost ability to boot then you can either leave it or recover the space using free Partition Wizard bootable CD: boot CD, rightclick Recovery to Delete, click OK. rightclick System Reserved to Resize, left click grab the partition and slide it intact all the way to the left side of HD, click OK. Then rightlclick C to Resize, slide left border all the way to the left, click OK, Apply all steps.

It may require repair using Rebuild MBR from PW Disk tab when you Resize on the boot sector. I hardly think it's worth the 16gb unless you want to play with it. Back up your files.
I have a factory backup on discs so I'm not too concerned with having the factory backup on the hidden partition. Can the new clean install be backed up to that partition?

As long as it's not going to interfere with Windows normal operating procedure or a possible future recovery if something goes wrong, I'm almost inclined to leave it alone.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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