In this lesson, we will be taking a good long look at the steps involved for installing a fresh copy of Windows. There are several fundamental things we need to keep in mind, and every situation is different, so we will try to speak on the broadest terms possible. There are typically 2-3 different scenarios where we would need to load a fresh copy of Windows, and each situation is slightly different, so sharing separate thoughts on each is likely the best way to lay out what you need to be thinking about. We will start with the easiest of scenarios – loading Windows on a brand new computer – and move towards more complicated installs.
Loading Windows on a New Computer
This is always the easiest situation – no file backups to worry about, all your hardware should be in good working order, and things should go smoothly. There are just a few things you should keep in mind the first time you load Windows.
Always keep your driver CD’s close to you in case Windows does not have something preloaded. In most cases, just make sure you have your network card or modem driver handy, because you will want to download all the latest drivers anyway. This brings us to the next point; installing Windows is easy, but after you are up and running, you will want to go and download all the necessary Windows Updates. Be sure to get the latest service packs and any hardware updates they offer.
In most cases, Microsoft will take care of all the driver updates you need, unless you have an aftermarket video card. In that case, if it is an ATI or Nvidia (two of the most common), you will want to go to their website and download the latest drivers to make sure you are getting the maximum performance out of your hardware. It is important to remember new drivers come out all the time, and keeping them updated is an important step to keeping your computer running right. As a general rule, stay away from Beta edition drivers unless you are someone who likes to tweak your system often, as they can cause issues.
Really, after you get all the drivers installed, there’s not much left to do. Simply install whatever programs you need, make sure you have a good virus protection software and anti-spyware, and you’re off and running. We wish all Windows installations were this easy!
Reinstalling Windows on a Crashed System
Here, the situation is a little trickier; you may be dealing with a virus, spyware, or all sorts of other errors. If you follow the same process every time, things should go smoothly. The first thing to do is, if possible take the hard drive out of the computer and plug it into another one to back up the files. Make sure the other computer’s system is running an updated version of antivirus, but other than that, you should be good. If you don’t have the luxury of having another computer laying around with enough free space to back up your hard drive, may have to get a bit more creative, such as burning several CD’s, or buying an external hard drive.
To start the reinstall, you will want to put the Windows CD into the computer and make sure it boots from CD. If you turn your computer on and nothing happens, you will need to go into the BIOS (typically by tapping Del or some function key right when you turn the computer on). You will want to make sure that the boot order starts off with â€œCDâ€. Since every BIOS is different, it’s tough to give straightforward directions on where to find this option, but look around – it should be fairly easy to find.
Once you launch the install, there are two ways to reinstall Windows. One involves deleting the current folder Windows is installed in, and the other is formatting and reinstalling. I find that in most cases deleting the current Windows installation works well – all of your files will remain, but it will delete the registry. What that means is that you will have to reinstall all of your programs, as well. If you don’t have to save your files, you might was well do a fresh installation by formatting – but for those who cannot backup their data, deleting the Windows folder is typically the best option.
Loading a Fresh Copy of Windows on a Crashed System
This is usually a worst case scenario, unless of course you have no files that you needed to save. You run it the same way you would as the install on a new computer, except by choosing to format the drive. I always stay away from a quick format, and opt for the traditional one when asked. After you load the fresh copy of Windows, load up the drivers, updates and software. Sometimes systems are at a total loss (and this situation stinks, we know!), but it is what it is, and often times troubleshooting an issue is far more trouble than it is worth. Sometimes you just have to cut bait and wipe it clean. At least your computer will be back at its top performing levels.
Reloading Windows in any situation is a stressful situation; make sure you make regular backups of important files as a user to avoid disaster. That way, if you ever need to wipe your computer clean, you at least have nearly everything safe and sound on a DVD, CD, or flash drive. Making sure you have the latest drivers (and software updates are always something to remember, as well) to make sure you are at the optimal setup. Take your time, go slow, and things will be just fine.
Make sure the computer is set to boot from cd. Insert the Windows disk and restart the PC, after it starts a screen should appear saying “press any key to boot from cd”.
Windows will load some drivers and start the Setup Program.
After the drivers finish loading and Setup starts you will be greeted with this screen.
Setup is to install Windows, the Recovery Console is where you go to run commands like checkdsk and fixboot.
After hitting setup you will be presented with a EULA Agreement screen.
You definitely do not need to read it each time but I would recommend that you read it through one time.
Upon agreeing to the EULA by hitting F8 you will be shown this screen which contains the detected installs of Windows currently on the system. If it sees no installs due to file damage or from there simply being no OS software on the disk, it will show the drive itself.
Hitting R at this screen while an install is selected is how you perform an in place install or a “repair” installation. It removes the Windows system files and re-installs them. Leaves the user documents and programs intact, although they may need to be reinstalled anyhow.
Hitting escape indicates that you want to install a fresh copy of Windows.