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I have a HP Pavilion dv7-4177nr Entertainment Notebook. It once had Windows 7 home premium installed. However that hard drive broke because of physical damage. Now that I have a new hard drive hooked up, I want to know what options I have to start using my laptop again as well as the pros and cons of each. Here is my progress:

Option 1: Try to reinstall windows 7 - I have tried to contact HP by entering my product name and serial number on their website but they "no longer support this product" (is there another way to try to get the recovery disc or ISO file out of them?). I have tried to download the ISO file from Microsoft, but it says "The product key you entered appears to be for software pre-installed by the device manufacturer. Please contact the device manufacturer for software recovery options." Perhaps, there is somewhere else I can get the disc or ISO file to reinstall windows, however I worry that I am on a new hard drive and not finding the correct media will cause Windows 7 to not work.

Option 2) Would it be possible to just try to install Linux on this blank hard drive or would that cause some type of error?

Option 3) Upgrading to Windows 10. Some stores offer an installation of an OS as part of their services (like BestBuy for 100$ but can only upgrade me to Windows 10 and I'm not sure if that would be safe for this type of computer.)

Do I have other reasonable options? Perhaps another service or action I haven't thought of?

  • my personal bias would push you to option 2 but it depends what you use it for. No it won't cause an error but you might want to define "cause some type of error" if you have something specific in mind – Deryck May 11 '16 at 3:20
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    Is there a sticker with the key at the bottom? You could use a retail windows 7 disk from somewhere else to install. – Journeyman Geek May 11 '16 at 6:50
  • @Deryck I didn't know if the end user license agreement might stop me from using Linux as it may prevent me from installing Windows again – Thrillseeker419 May 11 '16 at 16:47
  • @Journeyman Geek, Yes I have the product key if that is what you are asking. I'm confused at what windows 7 disk I would need exactly. I don't think I can get the OEM kind because the End User License Agreement would block me? Is there another type that would be okay to use? Where would I find it? – Thrillseeker419 May 11 '16 at 16:49
  • Essentially any disk should work, IIRC, as long as its the same version. Back in the day, digital river used to host isos for MS, and you could download it from there. Its possible there's mirrors of it. Alternately find a friend with a retail disk and buy him a drink ;) – Journeyman Geek May 12 '16 at 0:03
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Based on HP's customer support site, found here, it seems that a recovery option is probably out of the question at this point, as most manufacturers ship their notebooks out with a system recovery partition on the hard drive. Since your original HDD was lost due to physical damage, if you haven't made a backup then you might be able to get a disk shipped out to you if you contact their customer support. This is unlikely however since it seems that your system is out of warranty, and as you said, they no longer support that particular product line.

Linux would be a viable option, but if you're going to go that route I'd recommend starting with Ubuntu or one of their more user friendly shells; Linux is an entirely different beast compared to Windows in most cases.

Option 3 is a reasonable alternative so long as you keep in mind that you wouldn't be upgrading per se, since the new hard drive won't have Windows 7 already installed on it, unless you buy a new Windows 7 license to upgrade to Windows 10. In light of that, your best bet (if you're sticking to Windows) might be to just buy a new Windows 10 license and skip the upgrade bit. You can even purchase Windows 10 on a bootable USB stick for ~$119, found here.

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If you had Windows 7 home premium on the system, you are entitled to re-install it (a change of hard drive is not considered a change of system). If it were me, I'd jump onto a torrent server and download the appropriate (OEM) media, and install from that. It will most likely "just work", and its entirely legal.

Google tells me that that this laptop is fairly well supported under Linux, so its quite likely to work. Certainly there is no harm in getting a "Live Distro" like Ubuntu or Mint and seeing if it works for you - and it certainly won't damage any equipment. (I to am very much biased towards Linux solutions). If Linux can do everything you want it do - great - use it, its easy, fast and friendly. That said, if you are doing more then Internet, basic word processing and basic image manipulation, you may find it does not have the software you need.

I don't like Windows 10 telemetry ("spying") policies, and would not use it, but I'm sure if you were to go down that route you could seek assurance from Bestbuy or whoever that it will work before they do the install.

  • HP's EULA gives me a problem with that though right? It says that the mother board becomes associated with a hard drive. Won't that be an issue? Won't the motherboard "remember the old hard drive" and when I go to a blank one it will confuse it? – Thrillseeker419 May 11 '16 at 17:14
  • Are you sure about the EULA ? That would be unusual - Generally the EULA which applies to Windows is more-or-less a "passthrough" of one originating from Microsoft, which, in effect, equates a system with a motherboard (maybe motherboard+CPU) - I've never seen one talk about hard drives - and it does not make sense they would as, effectively, hard drives are consumables [ like spark plugs ] - Do you have a copy or reference to the EULA ? Also, question - does your computer have a license sticker with key printed on it ? – davidgo May 11 '16 at 18:24
  • This is where the EULA concern arose from amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1XA40KBLZ4CU4/… – Thrillseeker419 May 13 '16 at 4:59
  • I think that poster is being overly dramatic (read the posts below for a start). I have also swapped out the disks of a large number of Windows OEM systems without any issues - although I sometimes did need to manually re-activate the OS by making a phonecall as instructed during setup - If you have the licence key on the bottom of the computer, you should be able to re-install it. The key is tied to the Motherboard + CPU, not the memory or hard drive (which are designed to be changed/expanded) - See tomshardware.com/answers/id-1735673/… – davidgo May 13 '16 at 5:44
  • Also note that in your link, the message the person got was not that the OS could not be activated or the license key was invalid. Microsoft also allows a grace period of about a month after a system is installed to check activation. – davidgo May 13 '16 at 5:47
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Your three options are all possible, with various levels of difficulty. Strangely the most difficult option may be to get the original software from the original manufacturer! I will use your numbers for the options to make it easier to understand.

Option1:) You can try to get a downloadable recovery file from HP. Call them up if you can't find it on their website. If you want a CD copy or your computer is out of warranty then you may have to pay a small fee. You should expect to spend hours on the phone before you can get anything this way.

Option2:)Linux will work fine. Almost all hardware is well supported so there should be no errors. Just download any of the popular distributions and install them straight on your blank hard drive. If you do have any problems or just change your mind you can always install windows later. Ubuntu is one of the most common and widely used linux distributions. http://www.ubuntu.com/ Elementry OS is also highly regarded. https://elementary.io/

Option3:) Upgrading to Windows 10. This is an upgrade so you are really back at option1, needing to get the original Windows install before you can proceed. You can buy a full copy of Windows 10 but that is much more expensive than the free upgrade. At best buy they have Windows 10 home listed for about $100. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-windows-10-home-64-bit-windows/4423102.p?id=1219745807146&skuId=4423102 This will give you a brand new currently supported operating system though and you can go to Microsoft for support if you have any problems.

So Linux is the easiest and cheapest, but if you want Windows the other options are also possible.

  • The OP has already contacted HP and they won't support it at all. – Burgi May 11 '16 at 12:23
  • How do I call HP? It seems their phone is completely computerized, unless their is a path I missed. – Thrillseeker419 May 11 '16 at 17:12
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All of the above answers are enough to suffice your requirement but in my opinion you must move on with Linux ( Ubuntu OS) because that gives probably everything to you. Using linux is just like using an unlocked Iphone where you have all the freedom of removing Bloatwares.
I was a windows users and I have changed to Debian OS and I have been using the same since 3 years. One just needs to have a little knowledge about the commands (if at all one is keen to know). Windows users think about "What this OS can do for me?" but genuinely speaking people who use linux will think about "What I can make this computer do?". This is just because linux gives you all the freedom which windows demands a fee for!

Now, if you feel shifting your paradigm to Linux at once is not feasible at the moment then there does exist a way out. Windows has ended all the services to windows 7 few months before, so if you really want to stick with windows, then you must upgrade to Windows 10 but to my knowledge Windows 10 has been infamous lately for memory leaks and notorious updates which may turn your system to be slow!

Every OS has their own speciality and it completely depends upon your requirement whether professional or personal. I am a programmer so I need Linux but till date Ubuntu OS has met all my professional and personal requirements.

  • How do I know if my system is vulnerable to these memory leaks? – Thrillseeker419 May 11 '16 at 17:10
  • Yes, you will be able to know. There are some applications say the spotify app, Chrome app etc take a lot of memory in and keep them consumed unless you select "end process tree" to end all the relevant task. If you are a programmer and if you happen yo use an Integrated Development environment, you must have faced one in a while, an issue where you simply run out of memory and then you either have an option to restart your system or hover around task manager looking for memory hogging applications that have either been opened or cached! – Aniruddha Sinha May 12 '16 at 6:38
  • A system, well is optimized to avoid memory leaks but some apps do procure a lot of memory even when you are not using them. – Aniruddha Sinha May 12 '16 at 6:39
  • As you are a Java developer so let me give you an example from a programmer's point of view. When you use eclipse for a long period of time continuously writing and debugging applications, you must have observed that the Java runtime environment even starts "hogging" memory since it maintains stacks and heaps. If you are working with less RAM, you will face such issues. On the linux part the only issue I face is with the battery rest all are superb – Aniruddha Sinha May 12 '16 at 6:43
  • How dangerous are these memory leaks? – Thrillseeker419 May 13 '16 at 4:54

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