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,

Related Tutorials

Shawn Brink


I have booted from the Vista Installation Disc. Now there is an open dialogue box asking me to "select an operating system to repair and click Next" but there is no operating system shown. when i click on Load Drivers, I get a dialogue box open in a folder called "sources". It has 14 folders (most of them language names) and 6 ini files. Where do i find the driver that I am supposed to select? Thank you!
Hello gratefulz, and welcome to Vista Forums.

I'm sorry, but you will not be able to do a repair install of Vista at boot. You must run the "retail" Vista installation disc from with Vista while logged in as an administrator. :(
Thanks for breaking it to me gently! What do i do next then? My computer won't boot, and I'd like to get it repaired, if I can, before I go to the extreme of reloadign Vista and losing the data since my last backup...

You could use this below to backup your computer, but you'll have to create the disc on another computer to use on yours since you are unable to boot in Vista on yours.

Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer - How-To Geek

If this is the OS that came preinstalled with your Dell laptop, then after doing the above, you could do a factory recovery at oulined in the link from Dell below.

Restoring Your Computer´s Software to the Factory Settings | Dell

Hope this helps,
This was AWESOME! Thank you, thank you! The Ubuntu Live CD worked great, and my files are saved! The image burning software you suggested didn't download as freeware, but the Ubuntu website itself suggested another program that worked fine.
OK so here is my problem...I get to the screen where you have to select "upgrade"(step 10) :Dand it sends me back to the first screen to either "check compatibility" or "install now"(step 2):cry: it does this every time and I don't understand why:confused:. Is there anything else I can do other than a clean install??:sa:
Hello Dave, and welcome to Vista Forums.

What type (ex: retail, OEM, student, Anytime Upgrade, preinstalled on computer, full or upgrade, etc....) is Vista on the installation DVD and currently installed?
When I purchased my computer it came with vista home prem. 64bit. I was experiencing problems with windows update and a few other problems, then my hard drive crashed. I called Acer support and they said I would need to purchase a windows vista dvd from them. I called Microsoft and explained the situation and they promptly sent me a "Windows Vista Home Premium" replacement disc which includes SP2. When I received the disc I did a clean install. things have been fine until a couple of months ago. now my Windows is starting to have the same problems that it had before. I was hoping that the "upgrade" option would fix the problems.
Hi Guys,
I just tried a Repair install using a Full Retail SP2 Vista 32bit DVD on one of my Retail Vista Ultimate 32bit SP0 Virtual Machines. Setup gave me a message saying i must use SP2 media. The notes at the beginning of the thread say that a newer version DVD can be used to Repair install an older installation. Am I missing something?
Hello Kevin, and welcome to Vista Forums. For the best results, it would be best to have both the exact same version.
For the first time in years I was forced to do a repair (upgrade) install of my main Vista Ultimate SP2 x64 OS (I multi-boot thank God so am talking to you now from my main Win 7) because it had started acting up and both System Restore and sfc /scannow failed for some unknown reason.
I say successfully in that it has got as far as activating & letting me log in...with great difficulty as I have no mouse control. I always have a USB Mouse and a PS/2 keboard attached for such occasions plus they normally work in Safe Mode, BIOS etc, whereas Bluetooth ones often don't.
I tried unplugging the mouse several times, rebooting several times to no avail. Cursor annoyingly present yet no mouse control but keyboard OK. Nothing in Safe Mode either by the way. I can only do so much using the arrow keys on the keyboard.
This the first time this has happened to me and am wondering what I can do if anything.
I waited a long time in the hope that Windows might rediscover the drivers by itself but no, that was not to be.

Ideas anyone?
Hello Peter,

If you haven't already, you might see if uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers may help. :)
using iPad now. Can't do that as I have no idea how to that using only a keyboard. Windows did ask at one stage but didn't know how to bring focus to that window. It hasn't offered since.
Try pressing the windows key to open the start menu then tab to the search bit and type [FONT=Arial, Arial, Helvetica]devmgmt.msc + enter to start device manager, you should then be able to navigate it with the arrow and tab keys.
Hey thx guys....finally got my mouse back and now trying to install what seems like 8 trillion updates. Should have just formatted and installed afresh but wanted to more or less preserve my settings.
Thank again.
Almost there actually. Just installing the Ultimate Extras. I find it quite bizarre that Windows wouldn't ensure that at least a basic optical mouse worked. Now to get my Bluetooth working, that's another story.
Also just as bizarre - now Device Manager says my media burners, 1 Blu-ray and 1 DVD, can't start, although drivers are up to date...Windows mystifies me at times.
Strange how 1 of them was used to repair Vista.

Edit: Got rid of the burner errors by going into the registry and deleting the Upper and Lower Filters.
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