Beginners Guide to installing Windows 7

Aug 04 2011

Have you wanted to upgrade to Microsoft Windows 7 or just do a fresh install and don't know where to start? Running Windows 7 can be a huge time saver, and, in many cases, will run much faster on the computer you already own, with not much required. Maybe a memory upgrade to give your computer a little more speed. The computer may not be the fastest one on the block, for more speed you need at least two GB of RAM for basic computing.

What is needed before beginning:
* At least 1GB of RAM (Recommended 2GB or more)
* 32-bit or 64-bit machine and your choice of version of Windows 7 (microsoft link), all disc come with 64 or 32 versions (FYI OEM are specific to one type)
* 7GB of hard drive space just for the Operating System (80GB or more recommended)

An external video card is not required, but you will most likely not get the cool Windows Aero effects if you don’t have anything besides on-board graphics processing unit (GPU) on older machines. Any newer on-board or integrated GPUs can handle Aero as well as discrete GPUs.

Microsoft offers a Windows 7 Update Advisor which can be run on a Windows XP SP2 or Vista machine to help identify your PC’s compatibility with drivers or software and Windows 7. This will help you to determine what might not work when you do the upgrade or what new piece of hardware you are going to need before you do the install.

I always recommend you back up all of your data before you do a custom install. There are ways around this, but lets just keep it simple for now.

Lets get started with the actual installation!

There are two options to install Microsoft Windows 7:

Option one: if you have the install in ISO format (downloaded from MSDN or the like) then I would highly suggest making a bootable USB with a tool (detailed instructions) from Microsoft. Your install will go much faster and you can add drivers to the USB after you have made it bootable. It will help if you have any issues with your network card driver on first boot as well. You will need a flash drive larger then 4GB to do this option.


Option two: just use the disc.....what else did you think the other option was, photosynthesis?

Step 1: Boot off Disc or USB

When your PC boots, it first runs a Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) which controls many aspects about the PC hardware configuration including how it boots. If the BIOS does not default to booting from USB or disc, it will often offer a button press to bring up a boot menu, usually F12, Esc, F2 or F8. Generally, you can tell what your machine wants you to press if you watch the BIOS screen right when your machine turns on, or you can consult your user manual. You might have to do a power cycle a few times to get the right setting and get it to boot to what you would like.

Once it boots you should see this:
Starting 1

Starting 2

Starting 3
Unless you have a different language or keyboard you are just going to select next at this screen.

Next Screen or Repair
On this screen, if you are just going to be installing, hit Install Now....later, if you need to repair your machine or need to restore it back to a previous restore point, you can do this by clicking on “repair your computer” on the bottom.

Agreement

terms 1

Make sure you skim this page. You have to select I accept the license terms and then click Next.

 

Custom or Upgrade

Next you will see an Upgrade or Custom (advanced). This will give you the option of upgrading from a previous version of Windows, like Windows Vista or Windows XP. Note, you will keep all your settings, programs and files in your original location if you upgrade from Windows Vista. If you are upgrading from Windows XP, it will move all of your Windows settings to a Windows.old directory along with your Documents and Settings, and all of your Programs will need to be reinstalled. I always recommend you back up all of your data before you do a custom install....unless you have XP, then Windows 7 Upgrade license will not work on a Custom Install, then you have to do the upgrade. There are ways around this with a upgrade key from Windows XP but will not get into it here.. Ask in our forum if you would like more information..

 

Hard drive 1

The next screen will be different depending on your hard drives and how many you are using. I am installing this on a virtual machine for the sake of this walk-through so my hard drive is not very large.If you have a hard drive with data on it, do not follow the directions for this step! This is only for hard drives with no data on them, or that have been backed up!

Drive Options

Click on Drive options...You will see the option for new, if you have backed up your hard drive you will want to delete first. Make sure you are on the correct hard drive if you have multiples before hitting delete. Next you are going to want to hit new...

Drive options
You will see this pop-up after hitting new. This is telling you that Windows is going to putting a small 100MB partition on the beginning of your hard drive to run the boot and other start-up files to speed up the boot process. This is OK and recommended.


Multiple drives
You will now see the System Reserved with Total Size 100.0 MB and Free Space 86.0 MB as well as your new partitioned system drive, make sure you have your new Partition 2 selected and hit next. Now it is just a waiting and watching after this for a bit. The computer will reboot once or twice before you have any more input.


Hit next and then wait and let it work..

installing stage 1
Installing 3Installing 4
Installing 5Installing 6

 

User Name

Now you put in the user name you would like to use, this account will be an Administrator. You will notice that when you enter the user name the computer name will also change and change the PC name to be username-pc. You can change this if you want by selecting that box before hitting next.

Password Screen

This is where you will give your new user account password and a password hint..(fyi: you can just hit next, this is not required just recommended.)

Product Key

I recommend that you just hit next on this screen. You will have the option later to enter your key..You can make sure you get everything setup the way you want before activating your box. So just hit next and you will have up to 120 days to enter a key. It will start to bug you in about 3 days to enter one. If you do enter a key it will automatically activate your machine if you keep that box checked and you have an Internet connection.

Windows Update

This is where you will select if you want Windows Updates to come down automatically or not. Use your own judgement but the recommendation for a personal PC that is not behind a firewall or a corporate network is to use recommended settings. If you are going to be using this machine as a Media PC, you have to remember that your media center will want to optimize at night at the same time updates want to automatically restart the machine. You can always hit go to the start menu and type “Updates” and then change the option later if you are not happy with the first choice.

Time Zone
Next choose your time zone. Make sure your clock and date match...all Microsoft products are defaulted to Pacific Time.


This screen will have you choose your firewall settings. You can customize these at anytime later on. If you are going to be running this as an extender I would recommend Home Network, this will also allow other Windows 7 machines to use the HomeGroup feature. Public will lock down just about all ports.
Windows will now finish the configuration of the rest of the information. This should be pretty quick.

Last setup Screen

 

Finished
Congratulations. You have completed your install of Windows 7. Please check missingremote.com on how to setup Windows Media Center or install other Media Center programs.

Comments

After installing Windows 7 countless times on multiple machines, I have one observation I'd like to pass along.  If you have more than one hard drive installed in your PC, disconnect the extra drives and have just the hard drive installed where you want to install Windows 7.  For some reason, the extra drives seem to cause problems with the install and it won't create the system partition. 

It's been a while since I've had to do an install so I forget exactly what occurs if you leave extra drives connected.  I just recall that I always had to disconnect the extra drives in order to perform a successful install of Win 7.

captain_video wrote:

After installing Windows 7 countless times on multiple machines, I have one observation I'd like to pass along.  If you have more than one hard drive installed in your PC, disconnect the extra drives and have just the hard drive installed where you want to install Windows 7.  For some reason, the extra drives seem to cause problems with the install and it won't create the system partition. 

It's been a while since I've had to do an install so I forget exactly what occurs if you leave extra drives connected.  I just recall that I always had to disconnect the extra drives in order to perform a successful install of Win 7.

I've seen that one too, but only on older motherboards.  It usually goes away when you connect the system drive (the one you're installing on) to the first SATA port on the board.

Yes. I should have added that on there. I have seen that as well to machines running PATA hard drives on the same channel.

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