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How to reinstall Windows 7

If you feel that your Windows 7 PC is bogged down by a consistent lag in performance, it might be time to reinstall the OS. From registry issues to malware, to being overstuffed with large amounts of unnecessary software, a fresh OS installation can clear up a number of common problems and return your rig to its former glory. If your PC came with a restore disk from the factory, it likely features several different re-install options aimed to get your machine back to running as if you had just taken it out of the box.

Here’s our guide on how to reinstall Windows 7. Feel free to check out our guide on how to speed up Windows as well. Additionally, if you run into any issues while using Windows 7, we explain how to fix common Windows 7 problems here.

Have your Windows 7 CD/Serial key ready

Once you’re almost done installing Windows 7, the OS could ask you to put in its CD/Serial key. This allows Microsoft to check whether you have a legitimate, legal copy of Windows 7, and ensures that you’ll be able to receive Windows Updates without any restrictions. Avoiding constant pop-ups from Windows asking you to validate the install with the key is also a nice bonus. Make sure to have this on hand. If your PC’s restore/Windows 7 disk came in a paper or plastic sleeve, the key will likely be located on that.

Back up the data

Regardless of which type of Windows installation you choose, it’s always a great idea to back up your data before beginning the process. Check out our guide on how to back up your PC if you prefer step-by-step guidance, or our top picks of the best free backup software if you’re looking for several quality options on with which to make a backup copy of your data. Having an extra copy of your data for safe keeping is never a bad idea should something go wrong during the installation process.

Set up your installation media

If you have a copy of the disc that originally came with your computer, or another copy of Windows on a disc, skip to the next page to learn about installation types. If not, you’ll need to first create a Windows 7 reinstall disc either by loading the image onto a USB drive, or by burning it to a DVD, which we outline below.

Obtain a copy of Windows

If you don’t have a Windows installation disc already, you can download a new copy of the operating system from Digital River, a service that Microsoft uses to host copies of its OS. Keep in mind that you’ll still need a legitimate, matching serial key to activate each version of Windows 7 listed below.

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (32-bit) Download link
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Download link
Windows 7 Professional SP1 (32-bit) Download link
Windows 7 Professional SP1 (64-bit) Download link
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (32-bit) Download link
Windows 7 Ultimate SP 1 (64-bit) Download link

Once you download the appropriate version of Windows 7, head to this Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool page, and click the download link located below the Installation section of the page. Then, install the tool and follow the onscreen instructions. With the tool running, you’ll need select the Windows 7 ISO you downloaded, then tell the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool whether you want to burn that file to a USB flash drive, or to a DVD.

Reinstall Step 1: Choosing ISO File

Next Page: Selecting the appropriate installation type and installing.

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