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I have a Sony Vaio laptop running Vista 32-bit. I'd like to get it to a clean installation of Vista for the purposes of selling it (i.e. rid it of any data). I do not have a Windows installation disc (thanks, Sony!), and the computer does not have a recovery partition. I tried creating a recovery disc by downloading and burning a DVD with the image here, but when I booted from that disc and tried to "install", go an error message ("cannot open the required file D:\Sources\Install.wim. The File does not exist."

Any suggestions?

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

What you can do is somehow obtain some kind of Windows Vista installation media for your particular edition of Windows Vista. There are lots of places on the internet which have these files. You can do this, so long as you use the serial number given to you by Sony.

The actual serial number should be on the bottom of your laptop, including the edition of Windows Vista which you are legally entitled to have on your laptop.

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I suspected that might work, thanks for confirmation. So then it's just a matter of a clean install with the serial number I already have, correct? –  tnorthcutt Dec 8 '09 at 13:35
    
Yes sir. Make sure you install the proper product edition (e.g. Home Premium, Ultimate), otherwise the key won't work. –  Breakthrough Dec 8 '09 at 14:23
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I do not have a Windows installation disc (thanks, Sony!)

don't blame Sony, you went and bought this computer without making sure there are recovery and/or os installation disks included (which is a deal breaker for me!).

I tried creating a recovery disc by downloading and burning a DVD with the image here

this is not a recovery disc to restore your system, it's a bootable CD for the Vista Recovery Center (to be used for troubleshooting/maintenance).

if you want a recovery disc to restore your computer to factory default, you will have to obtain this disc from Sony tech support (usually at the cost of shipping).

alternatively, you can use your OEM license with any OEM Vista installation DVD matching the product pre-installed on your laptop (e.g. Vista Home Premium) and download the drivers from Sony's support page. this way you will have a 'clean' installation bar any OEM pre-installed bloat. when it comes to the product activation you may have to contact a Microsoft representative and explain the situation (usually very helpful folks), although there are ways to backup and restore the Vista activation files but i do not recommend doing this, MS don't like tampering with the product activation, you may end up with a 'stained' license and then you'll have to do a lot more explaining.

note: if you can't access the computer at all, you can use a Linux Live CD or BartPE CD to backup your personal data.

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"this is not a recovery disc to restore your system, it's a bootable CD for the Vista Recovery Center (to be used for troubleshooting/maintenance)." When I booted from that disk (a DVD), it did attempt to "install" Vista. –  tnorthcutt Dec 4 '09 at 18:41
    
"It cannot be used to install or reinstall Windows Vista, and just serves as a Windows PE interface to recovering your PC." –  Molly7244 Dec 4 '09 at 18:45
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Vista Home? Most of the times you can call the computer manufacture and ask for a recovery disk, though they do charge for shipping and handling... Make sure you install the same version of Vista that was installed when you first purchased it. Sony doesn’t make drivers to support outside of the Windows Version it came with… I had to learn it the hard way when upgrading my Sony Vaio to Win7 64 and their tech rep said they only offer the drivers for the Version of Windows its came it. Most of my drivers are installed because of Microsoft but my webcam, card readers, and touchpad don’t work properly because of dumb Sony.

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Would it work to borrow a recovery disk from a friend, since I have the product key? For that matter, I suppose I could use an installation disk (I'm assuming that's different from a recovery disk...?) instead, and just do a clean install, does that sound right? –  tnorthcutt Dec 4 '09 at 18:01
    
If you have a Installation Disk I would just that instead of your friends Recovery disk... Unless your Friends recovery disk is for the same make and model as yours, otherwise you will have some issues because when using a recovery disk all the drivers needed are slipped streamed. So if they are different model computers you might experience some BSOD. –  IT_07 Dec 4 '09 at 18:39
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The closest you can get is to uninstall all applications and delete any folders, user profiles, etc. not directly related to the core Windows OS. All in all a very labor intensive process to do manually and it will leave behind many traces of the previous apps. There is no way to get a "clean" installation without wiping and reinstalling Windows. You may be better off wiping the drive and selling it as is, letting people use their own install media to install what they want.

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Not going to downvote and I see your point, but I'd say that almost all ebay/Craigslist buyers would expect an OS of some sort, even Ubuntu would do fine. A buyer would need to be able to see that the machine operated well, which would be difficult with no OS. Of course a tech savvy buyer could manage it but you really limit the pool of potential buyers. –  outsideblasts Dec 7 '09 at 7:54
    
I'd rather sell it with Vista still installed - seems like it'd be worth a lot more that way. –  tnorthcutt Dec 7 '09 at 20:48
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