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Hey guys, I just got my sister a VAIO laptop (core i3, 4GB ddr3, 500gb HD). It came preloaded with Windows 7 (Home Premium) and it has a product key at the back.

My goal is to delete everything of the harddrive, and reinstall windows. I want to get rid of all the crap-ware thats on there (VAIO proprietary products, Adobe reader, so on and so forth). For this I have a couple of questions.

1) Sony didn't provide us with a Win7 CD. How can I download the ISO (I just want the installation cd as I have the product code).

2) The laptop does not have a cd player. How can I install Win7? should I buy an optional drive?

3) My preferred method would be to install via network. But if I format the harddrive, it will erase drivers for the LAN card and it might stop working? I am not sure at all how to proceed.

So in summary, I'd like to do a fresh install on a laptop that has no optical drive, and I need to download Win7 Home Premium to do so.

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Warning** Installing W7 or any other OS from disc will break other features such as factory restore partition and diagnostics partition if they are present, even if you only install to the C partition, it will overwrite the proprietary Master Boot Record, I recommend backing up the Sony MBR before doing what you want, it can be restored after you clean Install W7, this way the factory restore and diagnostics will still work like they should. –  Moab Aug 10 '10 at 16:44
    
There is a hidden partition on the disk. if i do a clean install, and leave the partition alone, can I still go back to the factory setting? –  masfenix Aug 11 '10 at 2:13
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5 Answers

I wouldn't bother with going through the complexity of a network install if I were you. I use the following method to install Windows 7 on netbooks all the time, there are various tutorials that go into more depth on the topic too:

  1. Obtain a 7 ISO via whatever means you deem suitable, as long as it's reliable. I wouldn't worry to much about the legality personally, using a valid product key is the important factor.

  2. Mount it as virtual drive (Daemon Tools does this well).

  3. Format your USB stick: NTFS, primary, active.

  4. CMD: cd to disk then BOOTSECT.EXE /NT60 H: (Assuming your USB stick is H:).

  5. Extract the contents of the ISO to your USB stick (WinRAR is good for this)

  6. Whack it in the laptop and reboot; you may need to fiddle with boot priority to get it to boot the USB but should work fine.

I usually erase the recovery partition and MBR added by the manufacturer; normally more hassle than they're worth I find- it's up to you if and how you maintain that. But overall that's the simplest / quickest method that I'd choose to use.

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If a manufacturer does not provide a physical install/rescue CD then they usually provide an image on the laptop that you can write to disk yourself - unfortunately this is likely to require an optical drive connected as it is unlikely to work over network (the image is not usually a plain ISO file in a visible place from where you can copy to another machine for writing).

You may also find that there is a hidden rescue partition on the hard-drive that you can access via key-press at the appropriate point in the machine's startup process. Many Acer models are setup this way and I've used it to restore a college's laptop to factory default setup (IIRC the magic to start the factory restore process on Acer machines is pressing F11 in the two seconds after the logo is removed from the screen) and you might find Sony do the same thing (check your product documentation). Acer provide the rescue partition and a way to make a rescue disk (worth having in case the harddrive dies and you need to do a factory restore onto a new one, or the rescue partition becomes corrupt in some way or otherwise lost) so make sure you check for this first.

For connecting an optical drive if you need to: for a one-off use you might find it more cost effective to buy a cheap PATA/SATA-to-USB adaptor and plug in a desktop drive (if you have a desktop machine you can take one out of temporarily) via that.

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Is it possible to use that adapter to connect to my desktop. Install the fresh OS, and move the HDD back to the laptop? or switching between all that hardware will mess it up? –  masfenix Aug 10 '10 at 14:49
    
I would plug the CD drive into the laptop, not the laptop's hardrive into a PC with the CD drive in. For a start Windows won't install to USB so you'd have to install the drive internally anyway, and the Windows install would include drivers and "hardware abstraction layer" for the PC's hardware which may result in a system that won't boot with the laptop's hardware. –  David Spillett Aug 10 '10 at 17:40
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By wiping the disk you take the risk, even with the best intentions, of finding yourself later on with a half-usable machine.

If I were you, I wouldn't touch a computer that is working perfectly well and has all the required drivers. Instead, I would try to clean up the utilities that I don't need.

The PC Decrapifier is one product that will remove pre-installed bloatware.

For any bloatware left behind, use Revo Uninstaller Freeware to uninstall completely. But be very sure that what you uninstall isn't really required.

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Regarding (3), use Double Driver to backup all the drivers installed on your computer.

Once you've backed up the files to a folder, remember to copy it off your computer. Once you've re-installed Windows 7, copy them back into any folder you like (I use "My Documents\Drivers") and then when Windows asks for the drivers for a piece of hardware, point it at this folder.

Bear in mind that you can't use this method if you decide to go from Windows 7 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit (or vice versa) - however going from one variant of Windows 7 to another will work just fine.

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  1. If you are not a member of the MSDNAA then you can't download the images legally.

  2. You cann install Windows over networlk if the Machine supports PXE. You should check your Manual or have a look in the BIOS, to see if it supports booting from network devices.

  3. Installing Windows 7 via network/PXE is described in the answer of this su-question. It's for Vista, but it should work just the same. Here is another tutorial that shows you how to install Windows 7 via PXE.

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I think you need Windows 2008 Server for this (or 2003 Server with additional packages) –  lajuette Aug 10 '10 at 18:50
    
Yes, you need the Windows Deployment Services Role installed on Windows Server. See my answer here: superuser.com/questions/191046/… –  paradroid Oct 1 '10 at 14:32
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