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My girlfriend's computer got a virus, and it's pretty nasty. I'll need to do a fresh install.

I remember hearing that it's possible to put in some restore/recovery disk that comes with the computer to bring Windows back to the way it was originally right from the factory. The problem is, I bought that computer off the shelf — literally — and I don't think I received a disk, or if I had, it's lost now.

What can I do? I'm all for reformatting, it's just a toy PC for her. I just don't have a disk to reinstall Windows 7 with.

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Some systems have a boot partition that takes the function of recovery discs that you can get to from the initial boot options when you start your computer. – MaQleod Feb 28 '11 at 4:59
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Try downloading Speccy, and writing down your Windows serial number, so that whatever happens, at least you have your license key and you won't have to buy another copy of Windows if you can't find a recovery disc.

After doing that, try pressing F10, F12, F2, or some key of that sort when your computer is starting up, and seeing if it goes into some sort of restore mode -- my VAIO does that when I press F10.

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The serial number is not the same as the product key. See the recent question about product key finders for more info about how to actually find the product key. – nhinkle Mar 22 '11 at 5:03
@nhinkle: Typo on my part; I wasn't being picky on the terms, but thanks for pointing it out. – Mehrdad Mar 22 '11 at 5:09

If the computer has a sticker with a Windows key on it (formatted like xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx), you could possibly use someone else's Windows 7 disc to re-install Windows and use your own key for activation.

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You will need the 25-digit product key on the bottom of the notebook in order to reinstall Windows. Jellybean Magical Keyfinder is a way better tool for finding the product key of the OS without navigating through the registry, as well as allows you to save it to a text file.

Do this is if you HAVE an OEM partition: Boot into the BIOS and there may be an option (most Acer notebooks have D2D recovery etc.) and try to do a recovery from the partition. In some cases I have seen where you do in fact need a Windows install DVD in order to complete the recovery.

Do this is you have no OEM partition: Find yourself a local computer shop and ask them if they can burn you an OEM Windows 7 disc. Show them that you have a product key for it and that you just need the disc. Offer money if needed to cover the cost of the burning of the disc and the cost of the DVD. The only valuable thing about owning a copy of Windows is that 25-digit product key, not the disc as it is the license to use Windows. Once you have the disc in your possession , pop it into the notebook, boot off of it and delete all partitions on the HDD, then create a new partition and install Windows on that. Of course, BACKUP IMPORTANT DATA FIRST.

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