Easy reinstall for Windows Vista

Let’s get started with an easy reformat and reinstall. We’re not going to leave the Windows Vista desktop or mess with the BIOS here.

The downside is that you won’t destroy all your data and it will get saved in a folder called Windows.old. The upside is you don’t have to mess with scary BIOS settings.

Let’s get started. From the Windows Desktop, load the Vista DVD into the system’s optical drive. It should auto-start. Or it might open a dialog box that asks for you to Run Setup. Choose that option.

If it doesn’t, click the circular Windows button, then click Computer and then double-click your DVD drive that contains the disc.

The User Account Control (UAC) warning will trigger, so click Allow. When the installation window opens, choose Install Now. If your Internet connection is working, select Go Online to Get the Latest Updates for Installation (Recommended).

The installer will look online for operating system updates and download them for you. It also finds drivers and any fixes needed for the process.

Next, you’ll see a screen that asks for the Vista product key. It is on a label on the Vista packaging or it also could be on a sticker on the bottom of your laptop (in those cases if your system came with Vista pre-installed.

If you are inclined to accept the legal agreement that you see next, click I Accept and click Next.

On the next screen choose choose Custom to wipe the hard drive clean. Now you’ll see drive locations where a fresh copy of Windows can be installed. Your existing installation will be on the largest disk, marked Disk 0.

If you have multiple disks on your system you’ll see something like:

  • Disk 0 Partition 1 (C:)
  • Disk 0 Partition 2 (E:)
  • Disk 0 Partition 3 (F:)

If your computer maker put restore information on a partition on your hard drive, you’ll see a tiny partition or the partitions may be numbered beginning with 2.

Choose a partition and click Next. You might see a note that warns you that a copy of Windows that exists on the partition. This is good — it means you are about to destroy your existing copy of Vista and replace it with a new one.

Click Next. You’ll see the warning message: “The partition you selected contains a previous Windows installation”. Click OK to confirm. The install DVD then wipes the partition and installs a fresh copy of Vista. Old data is saved in a file called Windows.old.

In this process, the screen will show tasks it is doing. Toward the end of the installtion, the PC will reboot a couple more times until you get an almost-complete Windows Vista installation.

There will be a few more tasks to take care of and a new admin account to create, but you’re mostly done. Follow through until you boot into a new, fresh and squeaky clean copy of Windows Vista Congrats!

Be sure to run the Windows Update when you are done to get all the latest drivers and fixes.

If you system appears to be missing drivers, you will have to locate and install them. This Windows Driver Update article explains what a driver is, and how to find and download driver updates easily. Includes a program that does it for you