Repair Install For Vista

Repair Install For Vista
This tutorial will show you how to repair your Vista installation and keep all of your personal user account files, settings, and programs. You will be performing a Upgrade Install from within your currently running Vista.
How To Perform a Repair Installation For Vista

information   Information
This will allow you to repair your Vista installation and keep all of your personal user account files, settings, and programs. You will be performing a Upgrade Install from within your currently running Vista.

You will have to use the exact same Vista installation media type that you currently have installed.

Note   Note

  • You will not be able to do a upgrade install in Safe Mode.
  • You must have Retail Full or Upgrade Vista installation DVD to do this. Some people have had problems with a Full version letting them do a upgrade install though.
  • A OEM (retail version) Vista installation DVD that you buy at a store and does not come with the computer are usually the same as a regular retail (full or upgrade) Vista installation DVD, but have a OEM license (product key number) instead of a retail license (product key number).
  • If you have a OEM Recovery Vista installation DVD that came preinstalled with your OEM brand computer instead, then it will most likely only be a clone of the hard drive with Vista allowing you to only do a clean install with it instead. These OEM computers often have a Recovery D:\ partition that does the same thing as the OEM Recovery Vista installation DVD.
  • If you have a Anytime Upgrade Vista installation DVD, then you will not be able to do this.
  • The Vista installation DVD that you use to do the repair (upgrade) install must be the same or newer version of Vista with the Windows Updates and SP level than what you currently have installed. If the DVD is a older version, then you cannot do a repair (upgrade) install with it.
    • This will not work if you have SP1 installed unless your Vista installation DVD includes the SP1, or you create a Vista SP1 slipstream installation DVD (See below). When the SP1 is installed, it will give Vista a newer version number than what is on the original Vista installation DVD.
    • You can only do a Upgrade install if the currently installed Vista is the same or older version than what is on the Vista installation DVD.
    • To create a Vista SP1 slipstream installation DVD to use to do a Repair (upgrade) install, see: How to Create a Vista SP1 Slipstream Installation DVD. Note that this does not always work to use for a Repair install.
    • Another option is to uninstall the Vista SP1, then run the Repair install and install the SP1 again afterwards. To uninstall the SP1, see: Microsoft Help and Support: How to uninstall Windows Vista SP1 as a troubleshooting step
    • This will not work if you have SP1 and SP2 installed unless your Vista installation DVD includes SP2.
    • To create a Vista SP2 slipstream installation DVD to use to do a Repair (upgrade) install, see: How to Slipstream Vista SP2. Note that this does not always work to use for a Repair install.
  • Be sure to backup any important data you have, just in case something goes wrong during installation. You may need to reinstall some of your drivers. You do not want to do this if you are dual booting with XP and Vista was not installed as the primary boot drive. It can cause XP to not startup anymore.
Tip   Tip
If you are have installation error problems, then see:
warning   Warning
If you changed the default location of the Program Files or Programs Files (x86) folder, then you will need to change it back to the C: drive, and change any shortcuts that pointed to the other location to also point to the C: drive before doing a repair install.


Here's How:

Note   Note

  • If Vista is still not working properly afterwards, then a Clean Install would be recommended.
  • You may need to reinstall some of your drivers after the Repair (upgrade) install.
  • You will not be able to do a upgrade install in Safe Mode.

1. While logged in Vista as an administrator, insert the Vista installation DVD into the DVD drive, or connect a Vista installation USB thumb/key drive.

WARNING: Do not boot the computer and run the Vista installation DVD from boot. A upgrade install will not work this way.

Note   Note
If you do not have a Vista with SP1 installation DVD/USB, then you can download an official Vista with SP1 ISO file here: Microsoft: Vista Direct Download Links, and use Windows 7 USB-DVD Download Tool to create a bootable DVD or USB flash drive with the ISO to do the repair install.

2. Click on Install Now to start the upgrade. (See screenshot below)

NOTE: If AutoPlay does not load the Vista setup screen, then open your DVD drive in Computer and click on the Setup file.
3. If you want Vista to check for updates during the installation, then click on that to select it. (See screenshot below)

NOTE: It will install faster if you select Do not get the latest updates for installation. You can install them later through Windows Update.
4. Do not type in a product key. (See screenshot below)

WARNING: If you do type in the same activated product key that you already have installed, then you can end up in Reduced Functionality Mode.

5. Leave the Automatically activate Windows when I'm online box unchecked.

6. Click on Next.
7. Click on the No button for the Do you want to enter your product key now? prompt. (See screenshot below)
8. Select which edition of Vista you have. (See screenshot below)

9. Check the I have selected the edition of Windows that I purchased box and click on Next. (See screenshot below)
10. Click on the Upgrade option. (See screenshot below)
11. Follow any instructions left until Vista is through installing and has rebooted to the final welcome screen on the Vista desktop.

12. Remove the Vista installation DVD.

13. Check to see if any files are missing. If so look in the bolded files shown in step 14 below to see if they are in there. You can then just copy them back.

14. Run Disk Cleanup.
A) If listed, check Files discarded by Windows upgrade. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: These will be the leftover upgrade files, C:\Windows.old, C:\$INPLACE.~TR and C:\$WINDOWS.~Q, that did not get copied over. If any personal username files are missing, it would be in these folders.​
B) Click on OK to delete it.​

15. Now all you need to do is to activate Vista.
A) Right click on Computer (Start Menu) and click on Properties, or open the Control Panel (Classic View) and click on the System icon.​
B) Scroll down a bit and click on: Activate Windows Now. (See screenshot below)​

That's it,

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New Member
i have followed your guide as before in another post on system files, and was advised to do the repair install.
Unfortunatley i cannot do that either, i get to copying files (50%) and then it stops and i receive a message saying that there are corrupt files and to ensure the correct files are available before trying again. Error code: 0x80070241.

Now, if i can't repair off of the installation disc then i must have a serious problem which i would presume requires a clean install.

Forgive me for asking but what is the best way for doing a clean install with vista already installed?

Many Thanks



Staff member


New Member
many thanks, it is a full version and only 3 weeks old a a brand new build so a clean install will be required. I have done some google work on that error code and it would seem that i am not alone, thousands have received that error whilst upgrading.

Many thanks


Staff member
Your welcome Hypno,

I always found it best to do a clean install to avoid problems.

Have a happy New Years,


Staff member
Hypno, how much ram do you have in? as Vista x64 sometimes has problems installing with 4gig or more.


New Member
hi, i do indeed have 4 gb of ram, which was not a problem when i done the initial first install.

I'll take 2 gb out and give it another try.


New Member
Just an update, I removed 2 GB of RAM and manged to perform a repair install from within windows, took almost 4 hrs though, possibly would have been quicker to do a clean install and reload the software, I may still do a clean install as my system is very slow at the moment


Staff member
Hi Jim,

Good question. I updated the tutorial to include why, but basically:

If XP is on the primary boot drive, then reinstalling Vista may take over the boot drive and cause XP to not startup anymore. If Vista is on the primary boot drive, then it should be ok to do.



New Member
How do I know which is in the primary boot drive?

I have three partitions- my data, Vista, and XP. And XP was installed first.


New Member
Ok, so I opened up the disk manager. For Windows Vista under the Status column, it says Boot.

This means its the primary boot drive right? Even though I had XP installed first. Also, for my Windows XP volume, it says System, Active under the status column. I added a screenshot to show you what I mean.

And one last question. I'm doing this because when I run "sfc /scannow" command in the CMD window, it gives me an error saying that Windows found corrupt files but couldn't fix them. Even though nothing seems to be wrong with Vista, should I continue this Repair Install to fix that error message?

Thanks a lot for all the help with this.

disk management.jpg


Staff member

Since Vista is listed as the Boot drive, then it should be ok to run the repair install. Just be sure to select the same partition drive letter for Vista when installing. To be safe, I would backup anything you do not want to lose just in case something goes wrong.



New Member
I am fixing a computer for a friend and I don't have much experience with Vista. I am quite adept with XP however so don't hold back on the technical mumbo-jumbo.

Basicaly, I was having a problem installing SP1. I tried numerous things to fix it and nothing worked. I finally had to resort to a repair install.

Now, I know how stupid this is, but I didn't back up any of the user files. But the repair install is (purportedly) supposed to retain all of your user settings and files. Well, no. EVERYTHING IS GONE!!

All of the Documents and Desktop files from before are gone. I can still use the Start Search to find the files, but in their properties they show the file size as 0KB.

XP always made a backup up of the documents and settings/user folder, but I guess Vista does not.

I am currently running a data recovery program, so hopefully that will help, but why on Earth has this happened?? Does anyone know where my files might be secretly backed up?

Please help!! :sick:


Staff member
Hi Whatispunk,

Welcome to Vista Forums. :party:

You might look to see if you have a C:\Window.old , C:\$INPLACE.~TR, or a C:\$WINDOWS.~Q folder to see if they may be in one of them. This is usually where Vista stores anything from a upgrade install.

Hope this helps,


New Member
Thanks for the reply. I checked out those locations. Each of them had a folder for the user with the Documents and such in it. But it was only the folder structure. There were still no files.

Luckily my GetDataBack for NTFS is recovering everything as we speak. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed for the integrity of the files.

You know, its funny. I have an MSDN subscription so I could install Vista Ultimate whenever I want, but its just things like this that makes me really really not want to.