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A friend of mine appears to need to reinstall Windows 7 from scratch, but does not want to wipe the drive without having tried the process first (to be reasonably sure that it will be successful).

I was thinking about installing Windows into a directory separate from the normal installation directory of C:\Windows.

Given Windows 7 Home Premium on OEM media, is it possible to specify an alternate installation directory in order to install side-by-side with an existing Windows installation on the same partition? If it is possible, then how to do it? Step-by-step instructions would be great in order that I could provide the URL to this question and just say "follow these instructions to the letter and it'll work".

Google only found me pages on how to change the default program installation path.

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From everywhere I've seen, it's impossible to dual-boot on the same partition. Lots of tutorials are out there, and they usually start with "create a new partition..." Also, if the problem is the user's reluctance to risk his data, why not BACKUP? Then, install clean and reload your stuff! I've never reinstalled a Windows OS and "hoped for the best", and I never will. BACKUP, install, recover –  Jesse Smith Aug 8 '13 at 19:52
@JesseSmith That'd be a bummer in that case, because I'm not going to suggest repartitioning as well... And there are backups available, the problem is the risk of reformatting and then being stuck with a wrong version of the OS and no installable OS. (Unfortunately, no original media as supplied by the computer manufacturer.) I could probably wing it if I was there, but we are about 400 km apart. –  Michael Kjörling Aug 8 '13 at 19:55
Tell him to go buy a spare HDD for testing, or take it to a shop. ;) –  techie007 Aug 8 '13 at 19:58
@techie007 Laptop, and very tight finances, so I'm afraid neither is a real possibility. –  Michael Kjörling Aug 8 '13 at 20:01
Not sure why you don't think you can get a spare HDD to use in a laptop, but hey. Regardless, beggars can't be choosers -- back it up with what you've got, or take the risk(s). –  techie007 Aug 8 '13 at 20:50
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