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.​

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.​
11. Update your WEI score.​
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,



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Power User
Yeah but I think Im supposed to do a clean install, and should I start over since I kinda messed up on step 10 by not clicking the advance. which is probably why it did the C:\windows.old.

Also Step 2 number 7 doesnt exsist for me I think its because I have a laptop, you should or maybe I will put a little mini tutorial on how to change BIOS, its really easy except you have to be fast on the trigger for the F2. Some people may not know though how to do it. Also It skipped numbers 5-7 (under step 1) on me.
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Staff member
If you do not have a network device or connection, then it may skip those steps.

It's up to you if you want to start over and do a clean install instead, but I would try out this one since you already have it install to see how it works for you. You can always use Disk Cleanup to remove all of the old left over files (ex: windows.old) if it works fine for you.

I thought about a BIOS tutorial, but every motherboard has different settings and locations with each motherboard and BIOS version. It was just to specific per motherboard.


Power User
Okay how long would it take to notice problems afterwards? With the install I did do I need to activate Vista still? Im not noticing anything that would say I do.


Staff member
That's hard to say. You usually only notice them when they happen. Could be soon or could be later. If you plan on keeping this install to use, then you will need to activate it before the 30 day trial period is up. I would play around on it for a few days first to see if any problems pop-up or not.

Hope it runs smoothly for you.


Power User
Thought it would at least take a day to notice something......So I decided one of the first things I would do would be run a sfc /scannow. The first time I ran it I got 98% done and there was an error that could not be repaired by windows resource protection.

Then I ran a chkdsk /f, and just because I dont know the difference between them I did a chkdsk /r. Those both worked fine (which was the problem that originated all of this), and afterwards I did another sfc /scannow and this time there was no problems found by windows resource protection, but it only went up to 98%.

Is this already a sign of problems?

I can attach part of the CBS log from the first series of [SR]'s if you'd like. Personal I wouldnt want to read through it so I doubt you would.

Btw my computer was already activated so I dont need to do that, and I cant find the C:\windows.old under disk cleanup unless its called previous windows installation(s) 16.3GB.
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Staff member
Hi MarryPoppins,

If it is running fine and you do not develop any other problems, then I would not worry about only getting to 98%. There really isn't any easy way to fix, if possible, what may be in the CBS log anyway, so there would be no point. Did it also have a message that it could not fix the problem until the next restart?

The previous windows installation(s) 16.3GB in Disc Cleanup would include the C:\windows.old folder.


Power User
It did not say that, but it does say that its good now, it just goes to 98%, which I think is wierd. under disk clean up would I also want to clean up the system archive window error reporting.

Im going to see how things go for the next few days, running a dskchk and sfc scan occasionaly. Last time I did a repair install and that worked fine for a while, and this time I think I did a similar thing. The problem came back, so I'll see if all goes well this time.

You may not have gotten rid of me yet ;)

So should I clean up the previous windows installation(s) then?


New Member
Hey Brink,

I experienced the same problem that Amplid had, first let me give you some background info. I have a newly built pc with no previous OS and these are my specs:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Quad-Core 2.83GHz
Fan Cooler Master Hyper TX X2
Motherboard ASUS P5N-T Deluxe NVIDIA 780i
Memory Corsair XMS2 Dominator 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 1066MHz
Storage Seagate 1TB (2x500GB) SATA 32MB cache
Graphics 2 x NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX+ 512MB (SLI)
Audio Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
Optical Plextor PX-820SA 20X DVD-writer SATA
Chassis Cooler Master Cosmos 1000
Power Supply PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W Quad.
Alright so I have the full retail version of Windows vista ultimate 64bit. I first booted up my computer and it recognized and automaticlly installed the 4 gigs of RAM. Then, I set my cd/dvd drive to boot first through BIOS, popped in the windows vista CD and then restarted the computer, although I did not get a black screen stating "press any key to boot from cd" my screen was in DOS I think, and on the bottom said press F1 to continue or press DEL to enter setup and so I did (pressed F1) and then the windows loading files screen appeared. After it is finished loading I can see the windows vista background but the install menu does not appear, so I just waited for a while (approximately 10 minutes) then it came up. I clicked on install windows followed all the instructions, during the installation however, my computer restarts but so does the installation requiring me to enter my product key all over again and so on. Also when I was choosing where to install I can see that the previous attempt to finish the installation ,vista has taken up some space on one of my hard drives. It is my understanding that I must format that drive to avoid having a windows.old file being created, is it safe to do that on a newly built system with no previous OS? Can too much RAM be a cause of the interruption of the installation? Also, are there any other BIOS related functions I must do, other than prompting my dvd drive to boot first, before executing a clean install?


New Member
Is it safe to do that after my system has recognized the 4 gigs of RAM on a newly built system with no previous OS? Is there anything else that I need to look out for while doing this procedure?

Thanks for the support


Staff member
Hello Mike,

Sometimes on some motherboards you will need to flash the motherboard BIOS with the latest version before you can install with more than 3 GB of RAM installed. The workaround, of course, is to install with only 2GB of RAM and add the rest back in after the OS is installed.

A 64 bit OS can present a challenge when trying to flash the BIOS though. Most motherboard vendors do not have a 64 bit flash program version. A workaround is to use a USB flash drive, or temporarily create a FAT32 partition, to use with the flash files to flash the BIOS with at boot instead.

There should not be anything wrong with your memory because of the above, but you can test you memory with the Memory Diagostics Tool.

Hope this helps,


New Member
im about to make a clean install of vista, but im struggling with a question..
if i make a clean install, is it in fact the same as restoring it to factory settings?
Because after that thing with my background my computer turned very slow. takes 10 minutes to start up, which is insane because when i bought it was done within a minute so..just need to know if it affects my whole computer and not just the vista program.



Staff member
Hello Winged,

It depends on what type of Vista installation DVD you have. If you have a retail DVD, then a clean install will wipe your hard drive clean and install only Vista.

If you have a OEM Recovery DVD, then that will wipe your hard drive and reinstall everything that you had when you first turned on the computer for factory defaults.

Hope this helps,


New Member
i got two names of the dvd: one says OEM system builder pack
The other: windows vista home premium OEM software...
Sorry for the posts but im only a genius with games not software and things like that ;)


Staff member
No problem Winged,

Either way, it will wipe your hard drive clean and reinstall a fresh copy of Vista. If you get all of the software installed back on your computer when you first bought it, then you will know that it a OEM Recovery DVD and not a retail OEM copy.


Okay, I've got everything installed in my new case and just trying to verify something. The new computer has a new 1 terabyte Seagate SATA2 HD that will need to be formated and an OS installed, and I also know that I'll need to make some changes to my Bios 1st such as Boot order, memory settings ( 8 gigs for Vista 64)and drive info for the SATA2 HD, ATA DVD burned and Sata BluRay drive etc for but my question is do I need to make a boot disk to initially access my bios or can I pwr up the system and just hit delete so I can enter the bios make the adjustments and set the boot order? If not what is the best way to go about things so I have a successful task?

Plan to install Vista 64 with SP1 retail dvd if thats important to know


Staff member
Hi Bratboy,

Na, you will not need a boot disk or install anything to access just the BIOS. This depends strictly on your motherboard instructions instead. Usually you will press something like the Delete or F2 key every 1/2 second at boot until you enter BIOS. You should see what key to press for BIOS on the screen for a few brief seconds at boot.

I would recommend that you have all of your driver installation files already downloaded and saved somewhere (ex:DVD) to have handy to install later in case you do not have internet access at first.

I would also fo ahead and update the BIOS with the latest version while you still have the 32 bit Vista installed. Most of the time you will have to use a USB flash drive to update the BIOS with the 64 bit Vista due to the manufacturers not having a 64 bit flash utility.

Sometimes there will be an issue with installing the 64 bit with more than 2 to 3 GB of RAM. If you run into this problem, then just temporarily remove the extra RAM until after you have installed Vista. Afterwards, just add the RAM back.

Hope this helps,