How to Install Windows 7


Microsoft MVP
Jul 20, 2009
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A “clean install “ means an installation of Windows 7 on an unused, or reformatted partition on your hard drive, or by using the whole drive. This can mean removing an existing operating system in order to replace it with an installation of Windows 7. Ideally, the best procedure is to reformat your primary hard drive/partition, so that it is clean, and install Windows 7 from a new start. Please understand that all of the information on the drive that your current operating system is on will be lost during this process. Back it up to a CD or another drive before you begin your new installation. The install action is not reversible!


Make sure that you have your Windows 7 product key, a 25-digit alphanumeric code unique to your copy of Windows 7. Iif you intend to type it in during the install. You can, when you get to this step, skip it, as you have a grace period on the finished installation, before activating.

If Windows originally came preinstalled on your computer, your product key should be located on a sticker attached to the side, back, or bottom of your computer.

The instructions following were formulated from an installation of Windows 7 Ultimate edition but are applicable for any Windows 7 edition.

First you need to boot from the Windows 7 DVD


Insert the DVD and reboot your computer.
  1. Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD or DVD, as shown in the screenshot above.
  2. Press a key to force the computer to boot from the DVD. If you do not press a key, your PC will boot to the next device in the bios boot order. If your existing Windows installation begins to boot, without showing the screen message above, or you see a "No Operating System Found" or "NTLDR is missing" error here instead, your PC is not setup to boot to the CD/DVD drive first. Change the boot order, within the bios, to list the CD/DVD drive first.
Under some circumstances, instead of the screen above, the Windows 7 setup process begins automatically. I have never experienced this. But, if so, you can move to the next step. I must add here, that with the introduction of Windows 7, legal downloads have become available, with, naturally, the option to burn the iso yourself. A common mistake, for the over enthusiastic, is to construct an autoboot DVD. During the install process, the computer will autoboot a couple of times. If you have, indeed, made an autoboot installation DVD, then it will probably do just that and restart the install process from the beginning. That is only my opinion, but I have dealt with one or two queries as to why the install does not continue.

Now you must wait for Windows 7 installation files to Load


This can take a while, so you have nothing to do here, but wait for Windows 7 to finishing loading files in preparation for the setup process.​

No changes are being made to your computer at this time. Windows 7 is loading files into a memory cache, for the setup process.​

When this process has finished, you'll see the Windows 7 screen below, indicating that the setup is about to begin. Still no input is required.


Now there will be a couple or so required inputs


Choose the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method that you'd like to use. Presumably the first will be English. There are several “English” flavours available, but I cannot tell you what the variations are. Click “next”, on the next window, Click the” Install Now” Button. (See picture under)


Now the Windows 7 install process will begin

Note: Ignore the Repair your computer link at the bottom left. It can be used to start a Windows 7 Startup Repair or perform other System Recovery options, after the install.​

Now wait for Windows 7 Setup to begin


You must accept the Windows 7 License Terms in the next window, in order to continue.


Whilst most users do not, it can be useful to read through the agreement, check the “I accept the license terms”, checkbox under the agreement text and then click Next to confirm that you agree with the terms.​

If this gives you time for thought, be reassured that as long as this particular copy of Windows 7 is only being operated on one computer, you're OK.​

In the “Which type of installation do you want?” window that appears next, you're offered the choice of Upgrade and Custom (advanced).


For the purpose of this document, click on the Custom (advanced) button.​

Important: Even if you are upgrading from a previous operating system to Windows 7, it is recommended that you do not follow the Upgrade installation. You'll get better results, with less chance of any problems; if you follow these steps.​


In this screen, you'll see each partition that Windows 7 recognizes.​

Windows 7 setup can perform partition management, at this stage, as an advanced task so click the Drive options (advanced) link to make those options available.​

Now that all available drive options are listed, you can, if you wish, delete any operating system related partitions from your existing hard drive(s). But be aware that deleting a partition will permanently erase all data from that drive.​

Highlight the partition you want to delete and then click the Delete link.​

Your list of partitions may differ considerably from the one above, of course, depending on your disk size etc.​

If you have multiple hard drives and/or multiple partitions on those drive(s), take great care in confirming that you're deleting the correct partition(s). Many people, for example, have second hard drives or partitions that act as backup drives. That's certainly not a drive you want to be deleting.


After selecting the deletion of the partition, Windows 7 setup will prompt you to confirm the deletion.​

The message says "The partition might contain recovery files, system files, or important software from your computer manufacturer. If you delete this partition, any data stored on it will be lost."​

Click the OK button.​

Please read this: If you have not backed up everything you want to keep, click Cancel, end the Windows 7 clean install process, restart your computer to boot back into whatever operating system you have installed, and backup everything you want to keep.​

If you want to delete other operating system partitions, then, you can do so at this time.


Highlight the partition and click the Delete link. You'll see that that same deleted space is now described as Unallocated Space, not as a partition.


Click the OK button to confirm.​

At this point, you can extend the primary partition, to merge the recovered space from the previously deleted partitions.


The “Load Drivers” option is mainly some SATA drives. You must have these available on another media, or an untouched partition on the hard disk.​

Now choose the appropriate unallocated space to install Windows 7 on and then click Next.​

You do not need to manually create a new partition nor are you required to manually format a new partition. Windows 7 Setup will do this automatically. But selecting the “format” option and doing it over will do no harm and ensure a clean partition/hard disk.​

Windows 7 Setup will now install a clean copy of Windows 7 to the location you chose


Just wait. This process could take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, according to the speed of your computer.

This message will eventually pop up - Windows 7 needs to restart to continue.


When the install process is nearly complete, it will automatically restart your computer after about 10 seconds. You can click the Restart now button at the bottom if you cannot wait.

You will then see this window


Then the Windows 7 install will continue.


Windows 7 Setup is now updating registry settings in preparation for the final stages of the operating system install. This will also take a little while. Be patient – your install is still working.

Wait while Windows 7 Setup starts some essential services.


The last item on the screen is now outlined and says "Completing installation" and may take several minutes.


Once again, Windows 7 setup process automatically restarts your computer.


Do not restart your computer manually at this point. Windows 7 Setup will restart your PC for you.


Windows 7 Setup is now preparing your computer for "first use".


This involves searching your hardware and loading drivers, and removing temporary files.

Wait while Windows 7 checks the video performance of your computer.


This is an important stage. Windows 7 checks the video card and related hardware works so it can properly adjust performance options. For example, if your video card is too slow, Windows 7 may disable features like Aero Peek, and other graphical features. When you finally arrive at the desktop, the OS is in a full operative condition, subject to obtaining updates for the hardware, which may improve the performance immediately.

Now you must enter a couple of personal details.


Type in a username you'd like to use and what you wish to call your computer on your local network.

You can enter a single name, (David, for example), or something more exotic. (Your first and last name, or any other identifiable text you like). This is the name you'll be identified by in Windows 7 and any installed software.

In the Type a computer name: text box, enter the name you'd like your computer to have when being viewed by other computers on your network.

It is a good idea to use the same computer name you used in the operating system installation you've deleted as part of this clean install, as this will involve less work setting them up on the LAN again.

Click Next


The password window, is a recommendation, it is up to you if you wish to add that extra security.

Enter a password and retype the same password in the Retype your password: text box. – For goodness sake, remember this. I have dealt with too many posts from users who have forgotten what they typed!


Enter the product key that came with your retail purchase or legal download of Windows 7. If Windows 7 came as part of your complete computer system, enter the product key you were given as part of that purchase. This is not essential at this point. You may prefer to get Windows 7 up and running before you commit.


On this, Help protect your computer and improve Windows automatically, screen, you should decide how you wish to install updates. These are, of course, only Microsoft's or their partners. You can leave this on the default, as it can be changed later. I prefer to select “ask me later”, when installing on unknown machines, so that I may then assess whether to allow or not. For example, it is possible to prohibit the loading of new hardware drivers – often a good alternative. If you are familiar with the nature and wording of updates, then a good choice, after installation, might be to notify only, and let you decide if you want to download and install them. This option is the wisest, as it prevents Microsoft from doing anything to your computer automatically.


On the Review your time and date settings screen, choose the correct Time zone, Date, and Time.

The time and date is probably already correct, according to what region you set in the very first installation screen.

Check the “Daylight Saving Time”, unless you are in a region where it is not used. This time change will not occur automatically, but comes (twice a year) through the Windows updates feature.


In the Select your computer's current location window you see now, Windows 7 is asking where your computer is located at so it can setup the proper strength of network security. From my point of view, the best option is the Public network. If you use a Laptop computer and you connect to the Internet or other computers away from your home environment, this is the natural choice.

With stationary computers though, a better choice will be the Home network, (or Work network if that applies to you).


Windows 7 will now attempt to connect your computer to the network. You may be asked to select the appropriate one (name).

If Windows 7 detects another computer on your network running Windows 7, that also has a homegroup setup, you will be prompted to choose what kinds of files you'd like to share on that homegroup and for the homegroup password. You can miss this step, if you wish, and complete it later.


Windows 7 is now adjusting your user section, and applying the correct links to your username, with the associated default graphic/desktop settings.

You’ve done it – Congrats!


But before you leave this tutorial, go to the Windows Update facility. You can access this through the start menu or the control panel. If you are now confident your computer can handle it, select the automatic update option, you can alter it later. There can be very important security patches or, later, even Service packs waiting for you. If, on the other hand, you did enable automatic updates, Windows 7 will prompt you about any important updates needed.


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