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


Well actually have never had an OS at all installed on the new computer. My old one, the one I use now and am posting with, has XP with SP2. I did use nero to make a boot CD that has the latest bios on it incase I needed to update it. I'm hoping my MB already has the latest bios so I won't have to flash it. I was told by MSI that as long as I had the 1.3 bios on my MB it already has a fix for the 4 gig issue so crossing fingers on that point.

One last question. Like I said I'm going to be installing Vista Ultimate with SP1 from a retail DVD. I would want to set the boot order to DVD1 dvd2, HD in the Bios, is that correct, before I try to install then just reboot with the install DVD in the drive to begin the process?
That would be correct Bratboy. You should then see the "Press a key to boot from cd/dvd" message and be able to start installing Vista once a key is pressed within the 8 second time limit.

I hope it installs smoothly for you.
not sure if its because I tried to make a Vista install thumb drive on my XP box or something else but I can't seem to sucessfully dl updates now from Windows update. The updates download but then fail on install. Since I'm still not rdy to use my new computer am wondering which of the following ideas is best.

1. Try and do a system restore to right before the last time I did a WU that was sucessful to see if that fixes the problem or

2 Go ahed and do an upgrade of my old xp system using a Vista Home premium SP1 upgrade dvd and just not activate it? I had held off doing a upgrade because I plan on using x64 on the new system and there is still a few weeks of fall semester left but

If I go with option 2 how much HD space free will I need to have on my C drive to do an upgrade?

You can try a system restore to see if it helps.

I always found that doing a clean install is the best way to install a OS. If you wanted to do a clean install with a upgrade version of Vista, then see this tutorial instead.
Hello, I would like to know exactly what that meant, please.
I use the Vista Premium and i have the OEM Recovery created by me when I bought the computer, but I do not see the first step of this tutorial when i install Vista.
For what I understood about this clean instalation is the obligation of we having a Full Retail or Express installation DVD, right?
How can I get this?
I need to buy this DVD?
Or through my OEM Recovery can i create this DVD, the tutorial says it is also necessary to download and save all of your device drivers to DVD.
I do not understand well, can someone give me a hand, please??

Thank you.
(sorry my english)​

Since you have a OEM Recovery disc, then this changes things. A OEM Recovery disc will only install Vista back to the factory default settings on your computer. The steps are similar to the ones in this tutorial, but not quite the same since the OEM may have their own way of reinstalling Vista. There is no need to purchase anything.

It's not necessary to download and save all of your device drivers to DVD, but it would make it a lot easier for you to install them if for some reason you did not have a internet connection after reinstalling Vista.
In the tutorial says:​
"A Express or Retail Vista can be installed on any one computer at a time for as many times as you like"
This tutorial is to do this??
How can i do this? :confused:

Thank you.​

Your Vista OEM Recovery disc is not the same as a Express or Retail Vista installation disc.

You would have to boot from your OEM Recovery disc and select a "Restore to factory default settings" type of installation option. Each OEM is a bit different with their exact instuctions. If you can post back your brand and model of computer, I may be able to find more detailed instructions at your computer manufacturer's website.
Yes i can, my computer is an HP dv6675ep with a Intel processor 2.20 Ghz, 2 GB of memory and nvidia 8400 GS 128 of ram.

Thank you for your help.
So is this that is a Full Retail or Express installation of Vista?
Do this i know, but with this, I think, it is impossible install vista on other computer
It was what I wanted, because in tutorial says.
If do this is impossible, no matter, thank you for all. :sarc:

Until the next.​
hi, I've successfully re-installed Vista. I now have a windows.old folder taking up most of my HD with all of the old folders and so on. Is it safe to just delete this?
Hello Loser, and welcome to Vista Forums.

The C:\Windows.old folder is a left over copy of your previous Vista installation when you do a upgrade install instead of a clean install. It is completely safe to remove if you do not have any files that you want to copy over from it. You can use Disk Cleanup to remove this folder, by selecting the "Remove leftovers from previous OS" type of option.

Hope this helps,
Oaky I know to start the install one boots from the DVD, but then, when it wants to reboot do you still want to leave the DVD in the drive and leave DVD as the first device or do you want to either remove the DVD or change the bios??
Hello Bratboy,

You would want to leave the Vista installation disc in the drive until Vista is completely installed and your at the desktop.

It will not hurt anything to leave the CD/DVD drive set as the first item in the BIOS for the boot order. If you have nothing in the drive it will still boot to the hard drive (2nd boot order item listed). If you do have CD/DVD in the drive, then it will not boot from it unless you press a key to anyway.

Hope this helps,
So put DVD in start install let it do its thing and just leave the dvd in the drive when it says it wants to reboot later on?