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I want to restore my windows 7 Lenovo machine to the basic operating system (get rid of everything put on after Windows 7), install a program that currently fails to install due to some sort of problem with the current setup, then restore all my other programs. What's the best way to do this?

Thanks Dave

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What is the problem now seems to be a better way of going about it... – soandos May 31 '11 at 16:54

Complete factory restore is what you want to do. Wipe out all of the data and programs, and start just like you got it from the factory correct? Lenovo should have come with restore media (cds/dvds) If not, there is more than likely a way to create your own recovery media from inside Windows 7. Do that, backup your data, reformat, reinstall, try program. Or you could troubleshoot what program it is and "repair the bad brick without leveling the whole building first"

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I don't know of any OEM who ships disks anymore unless you ask for them. Lenovo machines have a hidden partition - there's a button you press at startup to enter the recovery environment. (On a ThinkPad this is F11, or the ThinkVantage button, but I don't know about their cheap machines.) – Shinrai May 31 '11 at 17:03
THat does not allow him to restore all his other programs... – soandos May 31 '11 at 17:24
@soandso - He'll have to do that by hand in some way or another. Do you know any way around that? – Shinrai May 31 '11 at 17:31

First step: Backup everything; I use this tool to get a complete snapshot image of the hard drive so that I can easily get any missing files later that may have been missed when copying data files out of that image.

  Drive Snapshot (backup free for first 30 days, restore is always free)

Second step: Factory Restore (if you can), or else you'll need to get a Windows 7 CD-ROM. You'll need to know the following information first:

  • Windows 7 product key (usually a sticker on the outside of your machine, often on the bottom or one of the sides of the chassis)

  • 32-bit or 64-bit requirement (if the product key sticker shows 64-bit, then go this route because you'll get better performance)

  • Network driver information (and be sure to have a copy of this driver on a CD or USB memory stick so that you can install it manually if it's not included with the Windows 7 installation)

As a favour to yourself, make sure you have all the needed hardware drivers before-hand, and store them on the same CD or USB memory stick with your network drivers. At the very least, make sure you have video and audio drivers. Most PC vendors provide a "support" web site where you can enter your computer's model number and download the needed drivers from there.

Third step: Install Windows 7 (factory restore will have all the drivers included, but if you're using a regular Windows 7 installation CD then make sure you at least get that network driver prepared ahead of time). WARNING: THIS STEP WILL ERASE ALL THE DATA ON YOUR HARD DRIVE!

Fourth step: Mount the snapshot image of your hard drive as a virtual drive letter and copy your data files back to your newly installed Windows 7 environment. Keep this snapshot backup image for at least a few months so that you can find other files as needed should realize at some later point that you might have missed something.

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