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Windows 7: Help (please!) needed with installing Windows 7 on a De

27 Oct 2009   #1
No expert

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Help (please!) needed with installing Windows 7 on a De

Hi there,

I have a Dell Inspiron 1721 which came pre-loaded with Vista Home (32bit)
The laptop has a "recovery" D: drive which I guess allowed the laptop to revert to factory (Vista) settings in case of problems.

I then upgraded to Vista Ultimate (32bit)

I have recently done a clean install to Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit).

I have a couple of questions:
(1) Do I need the existing D: "recovery" partition? I do not intend to ever go back to Vista but is it useful as a a safety net in case something happens?

Note that I have the Vista Operating System CD that came with the laptop when I bought it.

(2) I presume Windows 7 already includes a "recovery" section somewhere on the laptop. If I delete the Vista recovery partition, can I use the Windows 7 recovery in case of problems?

If so how can I do that? (e.g. press F2 or something when the laptop boots?

(3) Finally, would be advisable to re-install Windows 7 cleanly, (after having removed the Vista partition) so that Windows 7 can create its "recovery" data in its own dedicated partition?

Many, many thanks and I'd appreciate a reply!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2009   #2

64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro

Hi No expert and welcome to the forums... In answer to your questions...

1. No.. as long as you have another means of reinstalling, you may delete your recovery partition.. Be sure that it doesnt void your warranty with dell though.

2. No. Windows does not have a recovery partition. You can use Windows 7 imaging tool to make a disc image in case something goes wrong and you need to restore your OS. See Brinks tutorial on this -=> here

3. It is always advised to do a clean install IMO...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2009   #3
No expert

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Many thanks for your prompt reply, Tews.

1. I already have the full Vista operating system on a CD that came with the laptop as well, so I guess I'll lose that partition.

2. On the subject of whether Windows 7 ceates a "recovery" partition, have a look at this: Fresh & clean Install of Windows 7 on a new hard drive

(about 1/3 of the page down).

Am I misreading this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

27 Oct 2009   #4

64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro

The reserved partition?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2009   #5
Microsoft MVP


The 100mb reserved partition isn't always installed with Win7, and contains the same Repair Console that is found on the Installer or Repair disks>Repair My Computer. It makes these same tools available at F8. So, many remove it because they have access to these tools on the Installer or a Repair disk they can make in Backup and Imaging.

WIndows 7 brings Imaging to the masses so that reinstalls are a thing of the past. You can create a Primary partition to save a Backup Image to reimage from the Repair console on Installer or Recovery Disk. Be sure to back up a copy to an external drive in case of HDD failure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2009   #6
No expert

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

OK I've now also been in touch with Microsoft Support as well (see chat below). I'm getting conflicting info from them, so I'd be interested to hear what you've got to say!
Support: Thank you for contacting the Microsoft Technical Support Team. My name is Support. How may I assist you today?

Me: OK I have quite a technical question that I need help. I'll describe the situation.

Support: Sure

Me: I have a Dell Inspiron 1721 that came pre-loaded with Vista Home.

Support: Please proceed.

Me: I then upgraded to Vista Ultimate.

Me: The c:drive was already partitioned into a "D:” drive that had the Vista recovery data.

Me: I have now done a clean install to Vista Home Premium (64bit), but I noticed that the d: "recovery" drive still remains.

Me: I never intend going back to Vista, therefore do I even need that Recovery "drive"?

Support: Yes

Support: We need the recovery drive.

Support: Can I ask some questions as well?

Me: Sure go ahead.

Support: Thank you.

Support: Did DELL provided any DVD for Windows Vista?

Support: Which DVD you used to re-install Windows Vista Home Premium?

Me: Yes, it says "Operating System" on it.

Support: Was it a retail DVD?

Me: No, OEM, provided by Dell.

Support: OK

Support: OK

Support: Thank you.

Support: Yes, you need the recovery partition as it contain all the required drivers and the operating system as well.

Me: Sure, but I thought that W7 also created a "recovery" portion?

Support: Only if Windows 7 came pre installed.

Me: OK I see.. I wasn't aware of that. So if something ever happens to the machine (and assuming system restore does not work), then I'd have to "recover" back to the factory installed Vista, right?

Support: Correct.

Me: I backed up all my files before the W7 install, so can I safely delete the "windows.old" folder?

Support: No, don't do any changes to the Windows.old folder.

Me: Sure, but why is it needed (I think it's quite large)?

Support: It says that you have performed custom installation without format.

Support: So it contain all the previous windows operating system data.

Me: So, this is all linked to the fact that W7 was not pre-installed, but was rather an upgrade to the existing, pre-installed Vista OS?

Support: Not completely.

Support: It is like a parallel installation of the windows.

Me: I'm just trying to understand when I would ever need to use any of those files? For example...

Support: You can open the Windows.old folder and then go to the users folder and then you can access all you previous data.

Me: Sure, I understand, but if I've backed up my data already and restored it successfully, do I need this? Reading this: Step-by-Step: Windows 7 Upgrade and Migration it says that I should use Disk Cleanup to delete it?

Support: Sure you can.

Me: OK, so if I delete "windows.old" it will not affect my ability to do a system restore back to Vista?

Support: Yes it will, as it will even not allows you to boot to the desktop.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2009   #7
Microsoft MVP


Yes, confusing. I think the only remaining Win7 function of the Vista recovery or windows.old which would cause MS to have you save it is to retrieve drivers for the new installation somehow. I know you can do so in windows.old by browsing Device Manager to windows/system32/driverstore/filerepository

Other than that I have no idea why they advise holding onto a recovery partition or windows.old. Anybody else?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2009   #8

Windows 7 Professional x64

If it were me, I would do an image of my new Windows 7 on a USB hard drive for my backup and get rid of the Vista once and for all. You have the Dell disk and you can get the drivers if you ever decide that you want to go back. I doubt that will ever happen though. Let us know what you decide.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2009   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Me: OK, so if I delete "windows.old" it will not affect my ability to do a system restore back to Vista?

Support: Yes it will, as it will even not allows you to boot to the desktop.
Either that guy has been smoking something, or he misunderstood the question.

You might need to check you have drivers for your model from Dell website - d/l and save on cd. If you have the Dell install dvd as well, that's all you need. No idea why they want you to keep Windows.old , after you know everything is up and running.

You might check and see if the recovery partition is marked Active, before you think about doing anything to it.

Post a screenshot of Disk Management window.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Help (please!) needed with installing Windows 7 on a De

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