ARCHIVED: How do I reinstall Windows 7?

If your Windows 7 computer has been infected by a virus or has become slow to the point of being unusable, reinstalling Windows may be the best and quickest solution. If your IU network access has been blocked by the University Information Security Office (UISO) due to a virus infection, this process is required.

Before proceeding with these instructions, check to see whether your computer has a built-in recovery option. Some manufacturers may refer to this as a "Recovery" partition or "Factory reset", which will essentially restore your computer to its original manufactured state. Keep in mind that this will delete any personal files and new programs you've put on the computer since its purchase. This is not the same as the Windows System Restore utility, which does not help in the case of a virus infection. The method for performing a total recovery will vary, depending on your computer's manufacturer. For assistance, consult your original system documentation or contact the manufacturer.

Note: If your network access has been blocked due to a virus infection called a rootkit, nothing mentioned here will fix the problem; the UISO will email you with specific instructions for getting rid of the infection.

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Pre-installation notes

  • These instructions presume you are at Indiana University, installing Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 8.x Pro from the DVD available through the IU/Microsoft Campus Agreement. If you are not an IU user or you are installing Windows from a different source, you may have to make small adjustments to the directions below.

  • Warning: Following these steps will permanently delete all data and program files from your computer. Before proceeding, back up all data files, and locate the installation media for your software.

  • For the installation to work, you must have an existing version of Windows already installed on your computer's hard drive. If you do not, or if you format the hard drive before using the Windows 7 DVD, your product key will not work.

  • For security reasons, you should install Windows or rebuild your Windows computer offline (i.e., unplug your network cable), and then take certain measures to assure its security before putting it back on the network. For instructions, see In Windows, how do I safely rebuild my computer?

  • By the terms of the IU/Microsoft Campus Agreement, each license key for Windows 7 or Windows 8.x Pro is capable of installing the software on only one computer. If you need to purchase a second copy, contact your campus Support Center for help.


Note: If you are an IU student, faculty member, or staff member, the fee-based Carry-in Consulting service at IUB is available to install the operating system for you. See IUB Carry-in Consulting services and pricing.

To perform a clean install of Windows 7 Ultimate:

  1. Insert the Windows 7 Ultimate DVD in your primary DVD drive.
  2. Reboot your computer. You should see a message that says, "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD... ". If you see this message, press any key. If Windows starts normally, refer to On a PC, how do I boot from something other than the hard drive?
  3. Select your language, time and currency, and keyboard preferences from the drop-down menus, and then click Next.
  4. Click Install now.
  5. Check the box to accept the license agreement, and then click Next.
  6. Select the Custom (advanced) installation option.
  7. Warning: The following step deletes all the data on your hard drive. Make sure you've backed up important files and have the installation disks for your software.

    On the next screen, you should see a list of the partitions defined on your hard drive(s). If you have more than one physical hard drive in the computer, they will be displayed here as separate disks (Disk 0, Disk 1, etc.). Only follow these instructions for the disk that contains your existing Windows installation, and leave any others alone. If you are unsure which disk contains your Windows installation, ask for assistance before continuing.

    To proceed, click Drive options (advanced) to access the options, and then, one by one, select each partition on the desired disk and click Delete. You will be prompted to confirm each deletion. After deleting all partitions, you should see only "Unallocated Space". Select Unallocated Space, and then click Next to continue the installation.

    Note: Windows 7 will create a new partition and start expanding and installing files to your hard drive. This process will take several minutes, during which your computer will restart multiple times. Your computer will need to reboot from the hard drive during this process. When you see "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD... ", do not press a key; allow the computer to boot from the hard drive.

  8. After Windows 7 has finished installing, you will be prompted to create a user account, computer name, and password. This account is an administrator account, and for security purposes should not be the account you will generally use. Keep this in mind as you choose a username. See About your device's administrator account.

    Enter a name for your computer in the box provided. This is the name that will appear on networks to which you connect, including the IU network. Select a desktop background if you wish. Click Next.

  9. Enter and confirm a password in the boxes provided. Enter a password hint, and choose a picture if you wish. Click Next.
  10. Enter your product key; this is the 25-character code on the back of the DVD sleeve. Keep the box checked to automatically activate Windows.
  11. Click Use recommended settings.
  12. Select your time zone from the drop-down list, and then adjust the time and date as needed.

    Note: In most of Indiana, the correct setting is (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada), not the Indiana setting.

  13. Click Next.
  14. If prompted to select your computer's current location, choose the one that is best for your purposes. If you are unsure, select Public network.
  15. If prompted to configure your wireless connection or to create a home group, you can skip these tasks for now.
  16. Click Start to launch Windows 7.

After installation

For security reasons and to increase performance, follow the steps in What should I do immediately after installing Windows?

This is document bbfm in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2014-09-10.

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