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Monday, May 26, 2014

1490. Reinstall Windows without Installation Media

I have an old laptop, and I’d like to reinstall a fresh copy of Windows on the laptop. I don’t have the installation DVDs that came with the laptop, however. Is there some way to reset the computer back to its original state without those DVDs?
Most laptops that you can buy these days come to you without any installation media. So how are you supposed to refresh the system back to its original state?
Although the question refers to Windows, the same issues apply to Mac computers. The answer, generally, is to use the Recovery Partition that the manufacturer includes on the computer’s hard drive. Usually, the computer manufacturer sets aside a portion of the computer’s persistent storage (that is, its hard drive or solid state drive) to store an image of the operating system and all the hardware drivers the computer needs in order to operate. As your computer boots up, you should see a prompt indicating how to boot from the Recovery Partition—if not, check your computer’s documentation.
Beware (please pay attention here): Restoring from the Recovery Partition will certainly, and permanently, erase all the content you had on your computer’s hard drive. Therefore, it’s crucial that you back up your hard drive (and verify that the backup was correct and intact) before you use the Recovery Partition. In addition, restoring from the Recovery Partition won’t install any of the applications that you have installed, so you’ll need to manually re-install any applications that you use. You cannot simply restore these applications from your backup, as you can your data—you must find the original installation media, or download the applications, so you can reinstall them.
Finally, once you restore from the Recovery Partition, you’ll need to allow Windows Update to install all the latest updates. Most likely, the current version of your operating system has had a large number of updates, and the process of updating your copy of Windows could take some time (a few hours, given a fast connection). Be patient, and allow your newly refreshed computer to catch up with current software.
If you find that your computer does not include a Recover Partition, you’ll need to take other steps. Generally, these steps include purchasing a license for Windows and hiring a professional to perform the install for you. Before taking that solution, however, look on your computer to see if it includes a Recovery Partition, and then back everything up before proceeding

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