No risk, easy installation of Windows 7

Many people treat an operating system upgrade with great trepidation. Is my data safe? What if I have problems, can I go back? I’m just going through an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 but I’ve chosen a no-risk route which completely preserves my old OS and all my data so I can transition to Windows 7 at my own pace, getting it set up just the way I want and getting used to it before completely moving over from XP.

I’ve already blogged about installing a new 1TB SATA drive in my PC and I’m going to do a clean install of Windows 7 Home Premium (Full Version) on this new drive. I’m going to be replacing my 4-year-old 80GB Maxtor drive running Windows XP (which still works fine). I should say that I also have an identical 80GB removable Maxtor hard drive to which I cloned my primary drive soon after its installation and where I back up new data on a regular basis with a simple batch file. I blogged about it soon after I started this blog. So I effectively have an XP install with a mirror in case the first drive dies. But I felt that both these drives were too small (and probably too old) to move forward with Windows 7 so I chose to buy a new 1TB drive and keep the old drives for backups of music, photos, etc.

Anyway, on to the Windows 7 install on the new drive. I must say that, as someone who doesn’t regularly reinstall my OS, I found the Windows 7 custom install a breeze and no-one should be worried about a clean install on a new hard drive. I booted up with the Windows 7 disk in the DVD drive and followed the prompts, picking Windows Setup on the first screen and then Custom Install (not Upgrade). A custom install is a clean install.


The install took about 20 minutes on my system, followed by a reboot to bring up the Windows 7 desktop. But the new OS couldn’t detect my ZOOM ADSL X6 wireless router and get online. A little strange considering that installs of Ubuntu 8.10 and later Ubuntu 9.04 on another desktop PC and Easy Peasy Linux on my Acer Aspire netbook had no problems at all seeing the wireless router and just needed the WPA password. So I tried installing the ZOOM router driver. Still no luck. Then I tried installing the driver for my Edimax Wireless LAN PCI card, selected the ZOOM profile and activated it and finally entered my WPA password and that got me online. That was really the only hitch in the install.

First stop online was Ninite, an excellent site where you can pick multiple applications from an ever-growing list and install them together. The screenshot below shows only part of the list of applications currently available


I picked Firefox, Skype, VLC, Audacity, Irfanview, Foxit Reader, Microsoft Security Essentials, Flash (for browsers other than IE), Java, .NET, Evernote, ImgBurn, CCleaner, Revo, CDBurnerXP, Recuva, 7-Zip and Notepad++. The complete install of all these applications took only about 10 minutes – obviously a lot quicker than visiting each site and downloading the applications individually. Then Evernote just had to sync with the web client.

I’ve already listed my essential software and web applications on the About page, so I went through that and installed what I would initially need. I’ve always used AVG Free in the past for antivirus but I’m going to give Microsoft Security Essentials a try this time round – you’d figure that Microsoft should be the best candidate to keep their own system clean and it’s had pretty good reviews so far.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Installing my data won’t be a problem later – just a case of booting up with my removable backup hard drive in place and copying across everything I need. At this point, if you’ve followed this route, you may very well be plugging in your external hard drive to copy across your data.

But before I copy the data over, what I propose to do next is, when I have all the applications installed that I want and everything set up as I like it, I’m going to image the ‘untainted’ system so in future I can restore a clean system with my essential applications if I have to. So I loaded my copy of Acronis True Image 8 to make an image but found it wasn’t compatible with Windows 7. No problem, I’ve found an excellent tutorial from Gina Trapani on using the free DriveImage XML to make the image instead.

I’ll blog later about finishing this install, and any new applications I’ve come across to replace utilities I’ve used with XP.

2 Responses

  1. Dave Gray Says:

    Thanks for the post! I have been thinking if upgrading on my holidays and it is always good to know what your up against. Sounds like a clean install of w7 is a breeze :)

  2. Andy - The Digitante Says:

    Getting the Custom/Clean Install to work on a PC that is upgrading has been hit or miss for me. If it tells you your Product Key is not valid for a clean install, I’ve written some instructions to help you along.

    I had this issue on 2 of the 4 installs I did.

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