A friend has asked me to repair his Toshiba laptop after a virus crashed it. I've managed to do a clean re-install using the built in recovery partition, but the newly installed Windows is running absurdly slow. As in, it takes upwards of 30 minutes between logging in and the desktop actually showing, and once up doing anything has the same kind of wait periods. Booting up in safe mode seems to be working just fine, however.

I've done the re-install twice now and had the same problem both times. I've also noticed that the Toshiba install comes with a huge amount of bloatware and I'm worried that this is contributing to the issue. Even if its not, it definitely isn't helping things. Since I have his product key and a compatible Windows 7 install disc I've been debating whether to just use that instead.

My question is: is there any potential issue using a standard install disc instead of the built-in OEM version? I realize that I'd have to go find all of the drivers and manually install them this way, but that'd be a small price to pay if it actually works. And I wouldn't have to spend time going through and removing all the useless apps the OEM version adds in. So other than missing drivers, what problems could I run into?

(EDIT) I have used a linux live cd to check the hard disk and it is doing fine. I've tried removing some of the bloat while in safe mode, but half of the apps are could not be uninstalled due to errors/missing uninstaller/whatever. Starting up with a clean boot did not show any real difference in performance.

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    These sort of speed issues indicates there is a problem with the HDD. Have you removed the bloatware, because if its still slow, and you have then that confirms its a hardware problem. – Ramhound Apr 17 '14 at 13:35
  • Before going the reinstall route, did you try performing a clean boot? Also, did you test the hardware? – and31415 Apr 17 '14 at 13:35
  • this sounds like hardware issues, but to your question, Standard will work fine, except that your existing license key won't work. Check your hard disk SMART stats, and test the memory for a start. – Frank Thomas Apr 17 '14 at 13:50
  • @FrankThomas Since Vista, there is no differentiation between OEM and retail versions, the same disc works for both – kinokijuf Apr 17 '14 at 13:53
  • that would be kewl. I know vista still does validate keys separately, but haven't had a device with OEM sku's since, so that may well be the case. would be handy, that's for sure. would have saved me a month trying to get a colleagues Dell laptop working again. – Frank Thomas Apr 17 '14 at 14:06

There are two possible gotchas and one thing to speed up re-installation.

Windows product keys

The standard Windows 7 retail install disk will not work with an OEM product key. It will install, but when you attempt to activate it then it will fail.

This is because of a file in the install disk (called ei.cfg) which determines whether or not the disk is retail or OEM. You can "convert" a retail install disk to an OEM install disk (and vice versa) by modifying this file.

You can do this in the following way:

  • Copy the contents of your Windows install disk to your computer
  • Locate this file, it's in sources\ei.cfg
  • Open it up in a text editor and look for the word Retail. It'll be directly underneath the word [Channel]
  • Change Retail to OEM
  • Save the file and burn a new DVD

Missing drivers

Don't wait for Windows to re-install before you find out that you have missing drivers (especially if it's the wireless or networking one!).

Before you re-install use Double Driver to backup all his existing drivers onto a USB stick. Once you've re-installed Windows, run Windows Update to download as many drivers as you can.

If there are any items missing (denoted by an exclamation mark in Device Manager), then right click on each one, chose to install the driver and point it at the USB stick. Far quicker than manually hunting for and downloading each of them.

Re-installing applications

Use Ninite to quickly install a number of the most popular applications unattended.


Make sure you have a good amount of RAM. If one of your RAM cards failed, generally it would fail to boot at all, but I've been suprised before. Just make sure you have at least one GiB of RAM, and your hard disk isn't failed. Also, make sure this PC isn't from, say, 1998.

If none of these things are your issue, definitely wouldn't hurt to try the standard version. Just as a test to see if everything is okay.

Also, make sure that you have the CPU cooled properly. I once saw a toshiba laptop where the fan failed. The power management will try to cycle down the processor to keep it's temperature down.

...Also, the obligatory 'try linux'. But seriously, there is probably a hardware issue with this laptop, and if not that, definitely try the 'standard' retail version of windows, just as a test.

  • Laptop is only a few years old, plenty of RAM, and I used a linux live cd to check the hard disk and copy over some files. I did notice that it was running a bit hot during the first reinstall, so I propped it up and pointed a fan on it during the second. – D.Spetz Apr 17 '14 at 16:07

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