Reinstalling Windows 7 every 6 to 12 months can make your computer perform at its best, compared to how it would function if you didn't. For those who are not very computer savvy or tech savvy, reinstalling an operating system like Windows 7 can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, the process is quite streamlined compared to older versions of Windows, and the chances of making a mistake are slim. Read on to learn how to easily repair or reinstall Windows 7.
Method 1 of 4: Perform a startup repair
Step 1. Determine what the problem is
Before doing a full reinstall, determine if your problem can be fixed by performing a startup repair. This procedure will replace any operating system files that may have been corrupted. The most common use of startup repair is to repair the Windows loading sequence.
If your computer no longer loads Windows, then a startup repair could fix your boot process and cause Windows to reload again
Step 2. Insert the Windows 7 CD
Make sure your computer is configured to boot from CD. To do this, enter the BIOS immediately after turning on your computer. You will see which key to press below the manufacturer's logo. The most common keys are F2, F10, F12, and Del.
- In the BIOS menu, navigate to the "Boot" (or "Boot") submenu. Select "CD / DVD" or "Optical Drive" as the first boot device.
- Save the changes and exit the menu. Your computer will restart automatically.
Step 3. Enter the Windows installation wizard
Press a key when the message "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD …" appears on the screen. By doing so you will enter the Windows installation. A few files will load for a moment and then a screen will appear asking you to select your time and language preferences. Most likely they are already configured correctly. Click "Next" to continue.
Step 4. Click "Repair your computer"
This option will be in the lower left corner of the screen, under a large button that says "Install Now." Clicking on "Repair your computer" will take you to "System Recovery Options".
- The program will take a moment to search for your Windows installation. Select your installation from the list and click "Next". In most cases, there will only be one facility listed.
Step 5. Select "Startup Repair"
The "Startup Repair" tool will begin to scan your Windows files for errors. Depending on the errors it finds, it may suggest solutions or do the repairs automatically.
- Remove all USB sticks or external hard drives. Otherwise, Startup Repair may not work properly.
- Your computer may restart multiple times. Do not boot from CD while this is happening. Otherwise, you will have to start the process again.
Step 6. Click the "Finish" button
Once the repair is complete, click the "Finish" button to start Windows normally. If startup repair did not detect any errors, then this screen will not appear.
Method 2 of 4: Perform a system restore
Step 1. Open the "System Restore" tool
Depending on whether Windows loads or not, you will have two ways to access the "System Restore" tool.
- If Windows won't load, follow steps 2-4 in the previous section to enter "System Restore Options." From there, select "System Restore."
- If you can get into Windows, click the "Start" button. Select "All Programs," then "Accessories." Select "System Tools" and then click on the "System Restore" icon.
Step 2. Select your restore point
You can choose between points that you have created, scheduled automatic restore points, or restore points created during the installation of certain programs and Windows updates. You can only restore your computer to the dates listed.
Step 3. Click "Next" and then "Finish."
Click "Yes" to give your final confirmation. Your system will begin the restoration process. The computer will automatically restart during this process. The restore could take several minutes. When you log into Windows after the restoration is complete, you will see a message indicating that the process has completed successfully.
- System restore will not recover deleted files.
Method 3 of 4: Perform a clean install
Step 1. Create a backup of all important data and files
While this process is safe and there is a very low chance of a critical error, it is always a good idea to back up important data before making any major changes to your system, especially a reinstall. Copy important data to external hard drive, USB stick, or burn to DVD.
Step 2. Gather what you need for the installation
The Windows 7 Product Key is especially important. You can find it attached to the box where the CD came or attached to your computer. Make a list of all the programs that you currently have installed on your computer and that you want to keep so that you can install them after reinstalling the operating system.
Step 3. Run the Windows 7 setup
Insert the disk into your computer and restart it. Make sure your computer is set up to boot from CD or DVD. You can do this by following step 2 in the first section of this guide.
Step 4. Begin with the installation
They will ask you to enter some preferences, such as language options, and they will ask you to accept the Windows 7 license terms. You cannot install Windows 7 if you do not accept the license terms.
Step 5. Select the type of installation
After the boot process, you will be offered two options for the type of installation: Upgrade or Custom. Select the "Custom" option as this is the one you need to use to format the hard drive and make it clean for reinstallation.
Step 6. Format the destination drive and install Windows 7 on it
Formatting the drive will erase all data and it will be clean and ready for reinstallation. Although it is not necessary to format, it is recommended to do it when reinstalling the operating system to avoid potential problems with the system. Normally Windows 7 is installed on the C: drive. Windows 7 installation may take 30 to 120 minutes depending on the system.
Step 7. Finish the installation by completing the final details
Once the installation is complete, you will be asked to choose a name for your computer and create an initial user account. Most users leave the default username. After creating the user account, you can use it to log into your Windows 7 operating system that you just reinstalled.
Step 8. Restore the data and programs for which you created the backup
If you had data to save, now is the time to transfer those files back to your computer. If you created a list of the programs you wanted to keep, now is also the time to download and install them
Method 4 of 4: Use the recovery console
Step 1. If you don't want to do a clean install of Windows 7, try the repair tools that come bundled with the operating system
If you press F8 repeatedly during the boot process, you will be able to access the recovery console that comes integrated with the Windows installation.
- Note: Not all versions of Windows 7 have this feature, but it is a good troubleshooting checkpoint.
- You can try accessing the command interpreter from the recovery console to fix things on your computer that you couldn't fix through the most common methods. In this case, you will have to repair the MBR (Master Boot Record or Main Boot Record)
Step 2. Access the recovery console by pressing the F8 key during the boot process
Press it repeatedly to ensure that Windows records your keystroke during startup.
Step 3. Press ↵ Enter on "Repair your computer"
Step 4. Click on the "Command Prompt" text that is highlighted in blue
Step 5. Write:
- bootrec / rebuildbcd
- Press ↵ Enter.
Step 6. Write:
- bootrec / fixmbr
- Press ↵ Enter.
Step 7. Write:
- bootrec / fixboot
- Press ↵ Enter.
- This should be enough to fix any problems with the MBR. Again, this is not included in all versions and variations of Windows 7.