I have a family friend who needs to reformat her laptop (virus infected). She has misplaced her system restore disk. The laptop is running Vista, and has a valid Vista product key on a sticked on the underside of the laptop.

What are my options for installing Vista on this laptop without the system restore CD?

Can I use any Windows Vista CD to install the OS on this laptop as long as I use the key that came with the laptop?

This question seems related to question 18213, which asks whether it's possible to use the OS disk and key shipped with one machine to install Vista on a different machine.


Yes, it should work. Your install will go into OEM mode. You should also check to see if the laptop has a recovery partition on the HD already. This blog post has a description of the process.


The Vista DVD includes all the Vista editions, so you can perform a clean install with any Vista DVD.

When you see this screen, do not enter your product key, just press Next.

Product Key

Then select the edition of Vista that matches the once included with your laptop.

Select Edition

Paul Thurrott has a good article on how to do a clean install.

Note: Before you reinstall Vista, download any required drivers for the laptop. You should be able to find them on the manufacturers website.

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