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Windows 7: Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7

25 May 2015   #530

Win7 Pro x64

Greg... Thanks for the reply.

I have a couple of other reinstall (Win7) questions for you, or any other experts who care to reply:

I've read in other Win7 reinstallation guides, a few recommendations that I question and I was curious to see what all of you thought. Some of the recommendations that I've read are:

1.) Disconnect the internet for the initial process of installing Windows. (I wonder why?)

2.) Reconnect the internet after Windows is installed.

3.) Temporarily disable System Restore (System Protection) before installing Windows Updates. (I guess they recommend this to speed up the process, since so many restore points are created during Windows Updates.)

4.) Re-enable System Restore (System protection) after Windows Updates are finished.

Any thoughts on the above?

I've also read several, not so complimentary reviews of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). What are your thoughts about using MSE immediately after Win7 reinstall? Pros/Cons?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 May 2015   #531
Microsoft MVP


You want the ethernet cable attached because as it says in tutorial it increases the chances you'll start up to the new install already connected to the internet and ready to pull in other drivers by installing all Windows Updates. But to be sure have your network driver being used now in your backup to install in case it's needed.

There's no reason to disable System Restore as it provides a way to get back before any Updates that might cause problems or Windows to stop booting, which itself is extremely rare.

During setup when it asks how you want to receive Updates, you might want to choose "Ask me later" then immediately upon getting to the desktop, go to Windows Updates settings and choose "Download but let me choose which to install" so that you'll not find yourself competing with Auto Updates to install the initial Updates. Check for Updates and select All Important and Optional, then watch install progress. If it stalls on 0% check for a ! mark on Start menu Shutdown button indicating queued Updates to install via Shutdown. You may need to do this repeatedly as Updates have gone awry in the past year with self-installing, sometimes making it impossible to get to Optional until all Important are auto-installed whether you set it for that or not. Strange behavior of Updates during recent installs - Windows 7 Help Forums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2015   #532

Win7 Pro x64

I reinstalled Win7 yesterday and your advice helped a lot. Thanks.

I also installed about 220 Windows updates (Important and Optional), which took the most time. When the updates were finished, I discovered two new folders in my root directory (C:\), that I assume, were created by the Windows updates:

1.) C:\Drivers\.... (looks like the files might be USB drivers: nusb3hub.sys, nusb3xhc.sys)

2.) C:\Hotfix\ LocalPack\ x64\

C:\Hotfix\ LocalPack\ x86\

The Hotfix folder appears to contain language packages (Windows-LocalPack-ES-Package, etc.) for a Windows program or feature. These may be installation packages; I tried to open one of the files (.jpg) for a clue and it wanted to "extract" itself.

Can these Drivers and Hotfix folders be deleted, or moved?

A Drivers folder on C:\ is not uncommon (I've seen it on other PCs), but I've never seen a Hotfix folder. What's up with that?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2015   #533
Microsoft MVP


I've never had any problem deleting any of those driver or hotfix staging folders in C drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

09 Jun 2015   #534

Win 7 64 bit

Thanks Greg for putting this tutorial together. Detailed as it is, I struggled on several points:
1. My reinstall disk is OEM executable, not an ISO. It does boot from BIOS, but apparently cannot be turned into a bootable USB. I tried the links provided for that purpose and they did not work.Since I had installed a second HDD in place of my optical disk, booting from USB was essential. Since I could find no way to do that, in the end, I had to reinstall my DVD drive and successfully installed Win 7 from DVD.
2. I had no internet connection after install. You have mentioned something about installing LAN drivers after installing Win 7, but the link says nothing about how to get those drivers. This was a big stumbling block and for a novice like me, took a lot of researching to download drivers on another computer, copy on USB stick and install on this laptop. A section on installing drivers should ideally be a key part of the tutorial, advising users to download and copy instalable drivers on USB or DVD before reinstalling Win 7..
3. I was not asked to enter my COA serial number at any stage of the install, and my System shows as Activated. This is mystifying. Did I miss some step?
4. After reinstalling Win 7, my laptop (HP 8460p, i5, 128GB ssd primary drive, 500 GB hybrid secondary drive,12 GB DDR3 memory) is considerably slower than before. This may be because of some driver issue, but I cant determine which driver is at fault.
5. USB drives dont work normally on new install; formatting of drive does not work and files on drives show as corrupted but are perfectly readable on another machine.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jun 2015   #535
Microsoft MVP


What do you mean by OEM executable disk? Is this an HP Recovery disk, or a rare HP Reinstallation disk that comes with some business PC's, or a retail OEM disk? That the install self-activated without inputting the Product Key indicates an OEM Reinstallation disk or Factory Recovery disk. Can we see a picture of it? Screenshots and Files - Upload and Post in Seven Forums - Windows 7 Forums

Did you extract the ISO from disk using ImgBurn, write it to flash stick using the tools suggested in Step 1? What happened when you attempted to boot the flash stick? Did you avoid using a USB3 port for the install flash stick as it warns in tutorial?

Is this a UEFI install, and if so did you boot the USB as a UEFI device? You would have noticed when you booted the disk that it offers choices in BIOS Boot menu for UEFI DVD Drive and plain DVD drive. It also explains in tutorial that a UEFI install will have a EFI System partition instead of System Reserved partition in Disk Management.

Step 4 gives pretty complete guidance on putting your LAN driver in backup and how to find it. What exactly was unclear about it? It's printed in red along with all other driver steps so they can't be missed.

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 to install all Important and Optional Windows Updates - which will also provide most drivers. Your network LAN driver can be found on the Support Downloads webpage for your model PC. The exact make/model will be listed in your Device Manager under Network Adapters.
Step 5 then drives the point home and refines it:

Unplug all other HD's and peripherals except ethernet cable to increase chances of it starting up connected after install. If not prompted for wireless key during install it's likely you'll need to install the wireless driver immediately after getting to the desktop, or if ethernet LAN is working wait for wireless driver to come in via Windows Update.

Did you follow all of the driver steps printed in red, so that you know this was done correctly? If not I'd consider doing it over correctly, as no one else of the 1.5 million who have used this tutorial have reported problems like this. They simply don't occur if the steps are followed closely.

What AV are you using?

Did you unplug all other drives and peripherals during install as tutorial also warns? Did you delete all partitions during the booted install to get it cleanest, or did you have a different partioning scheme in mind and how did you create it? Can we see a screenshot now of Disk Management - Post a Screen Capture Image ?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2015   #536

Win7 Pro x64

Greg... Your tutorial is great. It helped me a lot when I reinstalled Windows 7 Pro x64 the other day.

But, I boogered up some of the Dell provided driver installations, so I'm going to start over and try again.

Couple of questions for you, if you have time:

My pertinent system specs: Intel i7-4790 CPU, 256GB mSata SSD, 2TB Hard Drive, USB 3.0 ports, multi-Card Reader ports.

On my first reinstall, I needed to install my Ethernet Network (LAN) driver to access the internet for the Windows Updates. I guess the basic Windows 7 driver set didn't have one that worked.

Since I should probably install the Intel Chipset driver before any other drivers (including the network driver ?), I'm thinking I should just go ahead and install all of the other, key system drivers too.... before I install Windows Updates.

Other key system drivers being: Intel Chipset driver, Intel USB 3.0 xHCI driver, Intel AMT HECI driver, Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) SATA drivers, RealTek Ethernet Network (LAN) driver, RealTek multi-Card Reader driver.

What do you think about that? Should I install all of the key system drivers first, before Windows Updates, or just the Chipset and Ethernet drivers?

Your advice is appreciated. Thanks.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2015   #537

Windows 7 Professional x64

This might give some insight to method I used for clean installing on a Dell... I know its a different model of PC, heck different OS come to that, but much is the same.

The key thing is to get the drivers installed (put them on a USB drive first) and to get a super super clean install... well the way I do it is here. I seem to recall in W7 and installing from the Dell W7 install disc that no wifi drivers are provided. You have to have them to hand on a USB drive or whatever.

The other advice... use a backup program and make incremental backups as you go along, after every step. It takes moments being an incremental and if nything goes wrong you can undo the error very quickly. When all is done make an image of the complete install... then you'll never have to do it again.

The attached text file shows my method for clean installing on a Dell Vostro. It was for W8.1 but its essentially the same procedure and obviously some bits apply just to me and my set up.

Good luck.

Attached Files
File Type: txt W8.1 Installation Procedure.txt (2.2 KB, 221 views)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2015   #538
Microsoft MVP


Toby and Mooly, please resist using XP methods in a driver-complete OS. Follow the driver steps printed in red that have worked for over 1.5 million consumers who followed this tutorial, without a single complaint or problem reported.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2015   #539

Windows 7 Professional x64

Didn't mean to step on anyone's toes Greg :) I was just trying to help by outlining a method that has worked well for me.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7

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