Clean Install with a Full Version of Vista

How to Do a Clean Install and Setup with a Full Version of Vista
This will show you how to do a clean install and setup of a Full Retail or Express installation DVD version of Vista.
How to Do a Clean Install and Setup with a Full Version of Vista

information   Information
This will show you how to do a clean install and setup of a Full Retail or Express installation DVD version of Vista.
Note   Note

  • A OEM Recovery installation DVD can only do a clean install. It is just a clone of the hard drive that will set your computer back like it was from day one. The installation process is basically the same though, but can only be reinstalled on the same computer it was originally installed on.
  • A Express or Retail Vista can be installed on any one computer at a time for as many times as you like.
  • The product key number for the Vista 32 bit version is the same one for it's 64 bit version. You can only have the Product Key activated on one computer and version of 32 bit or 64 bit Vista at a time. See: Microsoft: License Terms for Software Licensed from Microsoft
  • Sometimes people have problems installing Vista with more than 2 GB of RAM installed. If you have this problem, then you should install Vista with a maximum of 2GB of RAM installed and add the rest of the RAM after Vista is fully installed.
Tip   Tip
For more information, see: Microsoft Windows Vista: Recommended System Requirements

Vista Home Basic
  • Processor: 1GHz (32 or 64 bit)
  • System Memory (RAM): 512MB
  • Hard Drive: 20GB with 15GB available for Vista
  • Video Card: 32MB Memory and DirectX 9 Support
  • DVD-ROM Drive
Vista Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate
  • Processor: 1GHz (32 or 64 bit)
  • System Memory (RAM): 1GB
  • Hard Drive: 40GB with 15GB available for Vista
  • Video Card: 128MB Memory, DirectX 9 Support with: WDDM Driver, Pixel Shader 2.0, 32bits per pixel
  • DVD-ROM Drive

Installing Vista
warning   Warning
Before doing this clean install, you should download and save all of your device drivers to DVD, or some other media, to have them handy to make setting Vista back up easier.

1. Boot the computer from your Vista installation DVD.​
NOTE: Make sure that the CD/DVD drive is selected first in the boot order in the BIOS.
2. When prompted, press any key to start Vista from the installation DVD. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: You will only have about 8 seconds to press this key. If you miss it, you will have to restart the computer.

3. Set up your language preferences and click on Next. (See screeshot below).​

4. Click on Install Now to start the installation. (See screenshot below)​

5. Type in your product key number. (See screenshot below)​
6. Leave the Automatically activate Windows when I'm online box unchecked.​
NOTE: You can activate Vista later when you make sure it is running properly. (See STEP TWO step 11 below)
7. Click on Next.​

8. Check I accept the license terms box and click Next. (See screenshot below)​

9. Click on Custom (advanced). (See screenshot below)​

10. Select the hard drive or partition that you want to install Vista on and click on the Drive Options (advanced) link. (see screenshot below)​
NOTE: If the hard drive or partition that you have selected is unallocated, then you can just click on the Next button instead and go to step 12 since it is already empty.​
WARNING: You may not have the Drive options (advanced) option unless the installation is done at boot, and not running the installation from within your current OS.​

11. Select a hard drive or partition that you want to do a clean install of Vista on, do what Drive options (advanced) you want if any, and click on the Next button when finished. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: If you have your hard drives in a RAID setup, then connect your USB key with the RAID drivers on it, click on Load Driver, select the folder on the USB key that contains the RAID drivers to install them. Afterwards, your RAID drives will be available to select from to install Vista on.​
Tip   Tip
Drive options (advanced)
Tip   Tip

  • If you have more than one partition for a disk # (hard drive) and want to get rid of them to make that disk # one partition drive again, then select a partition with that disk # and click on the Delete option for each partition with the same disk # until there is only one "unallocated space" with that disk # left as in the screenshot below.
  • To shrink an existing partition to create another partition to install Vista on instead, select the partition you want shrink and click on the Extend option. Type in how much in MB (1 GB = 1024 MB) that you want to shrink it by. Now select the new extended partition.


12. The installation of Vista will now start. Below are screen shots of what you’ll see during the install.​
Installing1.jpg Installing2.jpg
Installing3.jpg Installing4.jpg

Setting Up Vista

NOTE: Now that Vista is installed, it is time to set it up.
1. Type in a user name, password, optional password hint, and select a display picture for your administrator user account. (See screenshot below)​
2. Click on Next.​

3. Type in a computer name and choose a Desktop Background. (See screenshot below)​
4. Click on Next.​

5. Click on Use recommended settings. (See screenshot below)​

6. Set your time and date and time zone settings, then click on Next. (See screenshot below)​

7. Click on your computer's location to select it for the network location settings. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: It is best to select Public location for the best security. If Vista doesn't detect your network connection, then you may not see this screen during setup.

8. Click on Start to boot Vista for the first time. (See screenshot below)​

9. Before Vista boots for the first time it must perform a performance check to see what features to turn on or off. (See screenshot below)​

10. Install all of your device drivers, then Windows Updates.​
12. When it is done, all you will need to do is to activate Vista.​
A) Right click on Computer in the Start Menu and click on Properties.​
B) Scroll down a bit and click on Activate Windows Now. (See screenshot below)​

That's it,

Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink


Great tutorial once again Brink. Had to perform it due to multiple BSOD and virus problems...

Thanks a lot,

Hey, this way I learn a lot, I used to have it done by the IT-guy;):p.

Thanks again for the forum!



If I have my vista installed already now: I want to reinstall it(problems). What do I do?


I would backup anything that you do not want to lose first.

If you have a full version of Vista, then you can just follow the instructions in this tutorial to do a clean reinstall of Vista.

Hope this helps,
Yes I have it backed up to a DVD. Well, I booted the pc with first boot device CD-ROM and Vista full version in it. I got the press any key screen and pressed ENTER. Then I got black screen with white saying: windows is loading files. Then the usual loader with Microsoft Corporation under it (you know the green one), and then I got that blue and green background that is in your first picture, but just the background, no text or anything.... Anything I forgot?


Check to see if there are any smudges or anything on the DVD. Clean carefully with water and a smooth cotton cloth if there is. If there is not, then you may have a bad DVD. Test it on another computer to see how it works on it.

Yeah, well the problem with that is that none of the ohter pc's in my house are strong enough for vista... But I have the 32-bit version as well, I could try that?
Ow, man, a broken DVD... Pfff

That's ok Amplid,

You just need to boot into the first installation window to see if it is ok. You can cancel the installation process by closing the window without messing with what is already on the computer. No need to actually install it on the other computer.
Brink, I got it, my pc just displayed the text very slowly, I left it standing on the background for a while and then the text came in. Now I'm installing it, I deleted the partitions and formatted the hard disk (turns out there were 3 partitions on my 200Gb hard drive...:p) So thanks again for the tutorial!


If I am a second computer using wireless interenet, and it uses a password will I need to re-enter that information after doing the clean install?
Hi MarryPoppins,

Yes, after a clean install, you will need to setup you internet connection completely again. :(
Is it really worth doing it now if there isnt any direct problem with my computer. I mean I cant do a chkdsk but I am no longer being asked to do one, so if I didnt try doing the clean install for a couple of weeks would I still be okay? or is this something you want to do right away?
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If your computer is running fine otherwise, then you can wait if you like. I would make good backups just in case though to be safe.
I have two questions:
Q1. I don't have an OEM Recovery installation DVD because I have a Vista laptop (which do not include the DVD). What do I do?

Q2. From Step One in this tutorial:
1. Boot the computer from your Vista installation DVD
I don't have that DVD neither. I know there is a tutorial for it but I can't remember what it's called. Can you direct me there?
Hi Bennys,

You will probably have a recovery partition instead that you can boot from to use the Restore to factory settings option to do a clean install of Vista again. What brand is your laptop? I'll post back a link with instructions how to do this for you.
Thank you.
I do have a partition, D: drive, if that is the one. My laptop brand is Compaq Presario. Manufacturer: HP