The perfect Windows 7 install
While it’s true that a fresh installation of Windows 7 is the neatest and cleanest way of bringing the latest version of Windows to your PC, it’s not the most convenient option, particularly if you value your existing programs, customisations, files and settings. The good news – if you’re currently running Windows Vista – is that you don’t have to lose any of this when installing Windows 7.
Windows 7, like Windows Vista and Windows XP before it, features an upgrade option – this effectively installs Windows 7 over the top of Windows Vista, replacing system files and hardware drivers, but leaving everything else intact. While it’s not the quickest process – expect it to take two to three hours – you don’t have to spend ages reinstalling programs and restoring backed up files. Sadly, it’s not available to Windows XP users – see here for how best to upgrade from Windows XP.
Before you upgrade
Do we need to tell you again about the importance of backing up (go to http://snipurl.com/qnh62 if we do)? Step one of the upgrade process is to take a fresh backup now, so everything is protected in case of disaster.
You should also update your security software and run a full scan to verify there’s no malicious software on your PC – upgrading to Windows 7 doesn’t remove any nasties lurking on your computer, so don’t think an upgrade will solve your infection woes.
The next thing to do is insert your Windows 7 DVD and wait for the welcome menu to appear (if it doesn’t, click Start > Computer, open your DVD drive and double-click the setup icon). Click ‘Check compatibility online’ to download the latest version of the Windows Upgrade Advisor tool, then run it to perform a detailed check on your computer’s compatibility with Windows 7. The step-by-step guide below reveals what to do about any
incompatibilities or potential problems it may find.
It’s also worth taking the time to click the ‘What to know about installing Windows’ link, which gives you useful information about what to have ready. You’ll see that the internet plays an important role both during and after the upgrade process, which is why it’s important that you have access throughout.
Once you’re satisfied that your PC is ready to upgrade to Windows 7, return to the DVD’s menu screen, but this time click the ‘Install now’ button to start the upgrade process proper.
Easy as pie
The upgrade process itself is as straightforward as can be. When prompted, select the option to go online to get the latest updates for the installation process. Once found and downloaded, read the licence agreement, tick the box to agree to its terms and click Next. After that, click the Upgrade button and a compatibility report is prepared – you should have already disabled or removed incompatible devices, but if anything else important is flagged, click the close button and cancel the process to rectify the situation.
If you’re happy with the report, click Next and the long upgrade process begins. It’s a five-stage process – all clearly labelled on-screen – and there’s nothing you have to do except sit back and let Windows 7 get on with it. The installation process restarts a number of times, so don’t panic when this occurs, and after an hour or two you’ll be called upon again to complete the process.
Once installation completes, you’ll find yourself in the Set up Windows section. Firstly, enter your product key, which you’ll find on your Windows 7 box. You’re then given three choices about protecting your computer and improving Windows automatically. Click ‘Use recommended settings’ to continue.
Next, verify the time, date and time zone are correct and click Next. If you’re connected to a network, Windows 7 asks you to select your current location from Home, Work or Public. Each is clearly labelled, so click to make your choice and Windows 7 then attempts to connect to your network and apply your chosen settings.
You then find yourself at the familiar log-on screen. Select your username if necessary, enter your password and log on to your brand new operating system.
Your first hour
Once Windows 7 has prepared your desktop, you’ll find it’s changed a little, but your desktop icons are where you left them, and your programs should be working as normal. You should already be connected to the internet and protected by your security software – if problems are reported, they’re flagged in the Action Center, a small flag that appears in the Notification area of the taskbar. This replaces a number of different tools in Windows
Vista and should help you quickly identify and resolve any immediate post-upgrade issues, often with just a few clicks.
Windows 7 immediately starts downloading updates in the background, but your next port of call should be Windows Update, as the step-by-step guide opposite reveals. You’ll probably find at least one or two updated or missing drivers available through the optional section of Windows Update, but it pays to check that all of your devices are working properly – the Action Center should highlight any obvious problems, but double-check by clicking Start, typing device manager and pressing Return. Look out for any yellow exclamation marks that might indicate a problem or missing driver – double-click the afflicted device to find out more. Visit the manufacturer’s website if you haven’t already to investigate whether or not a Windows 7-compatible driver is available for download.
If you have multiple user accounts, make sure everyone takes the time to log in and check for potential upgrade problems – again, the Action Center should take care of most minor issues.
And that is it; within an hour of installing Windows 7 you should have resolved any critical problems and brought your Windows installation up to date. Now you’re ready to start exploring its new features and taking advantage of your PC’s improved performance…
Fix incompatibility problems
What to do when things just don’t get on
1 SEARCH FOR UPDATES If you’re alerted to an incompatible program or hardware device, the Upgrade Advisor tries to help by providing a link to the manufacturer. Visit this and look to see if an update or upgrade is available that adds support for Windows 7.
2 LOCATE PROGRAM UPDATES If you have a large number of programs that require updating prior to upgrading to Windows 7, download and run Update Notifier from www.cleansoft.org – not only does this show you what updates are available, but it provides links, too.
3 UNINSTALL OR DISCONNECT If you can’t find a compatible update for your program or hardware device, uninstall it now through the Programs and Features Control Panel, and disconnect the hardware if possible. If you don’t think an update will be forthcoming, you’ll need to source a replacement.
Get up to date
Make sure everything works with Windows Update
1 VIEW AVAILABLE UPDATES Click Start and select Windows Update from the All Programs menu. You may find important updates are already downloaded and waiting for you – before doing anything else, click Install updates to get these installed. Reboot if prompted.
2 INSTALL UPDATED DRIVERS If you need to restart, open Windows Update again. This time click Review optional updates or Optional updates are available. Tick any updated hardware drivers and then click OK followed by Install updates. Again, reboot if prompted.
3 FINAL CHECKS Run the Upgrade Advisor tool one last time to check all outstanding issues have been resolved – it still flags up hardware devices that need updating through Windows Update even though they’ve now been installed, so you can safely ignore these.
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009 at 11:53 and is filed under Guides, Windows 7. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.