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How to Reinstall Windows Vista 7

Although perhaps easier than reinstalling older Microsoft operating systems, reinstalling Windows Vista or Windows 7 is still a major job, especially if you have a lot of software and personal files on your computer. There are often important things which can get overlooked and before you begin, you should have a checklist to help you make sure that you don't forget anything. The following guide will walk you through the process.

1 - When to Reinstall Windows
Over time, your computer will start getting clogged up with programs and files which you no longer need. Removing programs that you don't use any more can help to free up disk space, but there are inevitably bits and pieces of data which get left behind. Sometimes programs and updates do not install correctly. Sometimes malicious software infects your computer and it can be hard to properly get rid of. Reinstalling Windows will solve all of these problems and get your computer running like new again. As a general rule, it's not a bad idea to reinstall Windows once every year on a well-used computer.

2 - Making Preparations
Properly reinstalling your operating system means completely wiping your computer. Of course, this means losing all of your personal data. While you probably already know about backing up your data, there are some things which are often overlooked. Before you begin, write a list of things that you need to back up. Consider things such as music, video, documents, downloads, web bookmarks and saved games. It is highly likely that there will be more things worth keeping than just what is in your "My Documents" folder.
When you are ready to back up your files, copy them to a safe location on a separate disk. To save time, it's a good idea to have a secondary hard disk or partition rather than spending hours backing up dozens of gigabytes of data on unreliable DVDs or CDs. If you do use a second hard drive, you may want to disconnect it when you are done, just so you don't accidentally wipe it when reinstalling Windows.
Download all of the drivers that you need for your system before you reinstall Windows. This may save you a lot of hassle later on, especially if, for example, you can't connect to the Internet after reinstalling because you don't have the correct drivers for your network card. Make a list of all your hardware which needs drivers to run and download the latest versions of them. Copy these to a CD or a USB flash drive.

3 - Making a Customized Installation DVD
Making a customized Windows Vista/7 installation DVD can save time and make the process go much smoother. This involves integrating all of the latest service packs and updates into a customized installation DVD so you don't have to install them all separately once the operating system is installed. This process is also known as slipstreaming. There are plenty of guides and tools available on the Internet to help you. All you will need to start with is your original Windows Vista/7 installation DVD and a DVD burner. When you burn the DVD, be sure to use high quality media and burn the disk at the slowest speed.

4 - Installation
When you are ready and you are confident that you have backed up everything that you want to salvage, restart your computer and boot up from your Windows DVD. The actual installation process itself is fairly self-explanatory for the most part. You will be given the opportunity to enter your language and user settings as well as arrange disk partitions. If you only have one hard disk, it is a very good idea to partition it into multiple virtual hard drives. This means, for example, that you can have one partition for your personal files and multimedia collections. You will not have to wipe this disk when you reinstall Windows in the future. It makes better use of space, decreases maintenance times (disk scanning and defragmenting etc.) and helps to keep your files organized.
During the installation, the computer will restart several times. Finally, you will be asked to specify a password for your user account (optional) when Windows starts up for the first time. Windows will then spend a few minutes testing your computer to find the Windows Experience Index and, eventually, you will be able to reach your desktop. The entire installation should take around 30 to 40 minutes.

5 - Finishing Up
Now comes the big part of the job. Firstly, you should install your network drivers if Windows does not install them automatically. You will need to be able to access the Internet as soon as possible so that Windows Update can update your operating system. Once Windows Update is complete, restart your computer.
The next step is to install all of your drivers. These include drivers for the motherboard chipset, graphics card, sound card, modem, card reader and any other peripherals you might have. With all of your drivers installed, your computer should be working perfectly.
The most time-consuming part is installing all of your programs and copying over your personal files. It is a good idea to do this all in one hit, however. This is because you should defragment your disk after everything has been installed. Your hard disk will be severely fragmented after reinstalling Windows along with all of your drivers and programs. You can use a third-party disk defragmenter for faster results. Once you have done this, your computer will be ready to continue using.


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