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 had been suffering from an inability to run Backup (with error 0x80070002) and had tried everything that had been suggested in several forums for about a month - to no avail, other than to discover that SFC /SCANNOW told me I had corrupt files that couldn't be fixed, although the CBS/log did not show anything suspicious (CHKDSK also revealed some unnamed files that could not be fixed).
Having wanted to avoid a clean install, I was very attracted by the Repair Install option you have described here so clearly and I'm very pleased to report that the second attempt to Repair Install Vista Home Premium (32 bit) from the Medion Recovery Disc (it offered the Upgrade option, despite your pessimism!) worked fine (critically, I had NOT installed SP1) AND I have now successfully run a backup!
For information, the second time, having finally managed to delete (from the FileRepository in C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore) the newer (but rejected) nVidia graphics drivers that always crash my PC, I ran it with UAC active, Windows Features turned off along with Virus & Spyware protection. It took about 2 hours (without Windows Updates - I have that pleasure to come!), and so far, everything except the Media Centre (and its remote control) seems to be working as expected.
Many, many thanks for such really useful information - so well presented for the amateur. I've been digging around other parts of your site and am equally impressed with other tutorials too. Keep up the good work.
Your welcome John, and welcome to Vista Forums. :party:
I'm glad to hear that this was able to help you sort your problem.

Is their anyway to do a repair install of Windows Vista Ultimate x64 if my installation DVD is an OEM version and I need to keep all my data?
Clean install may be a possibility if that's an option...
But I've also heard about a Dirty install but I believe that's more risky for possibility of data loss is that correct?
My purpose is that I think my Vista has some botched updates (or partials)(failed) which are corrupted and I want to get rid of them my only thought was do a repair install but for some reason I can't pull it off with my OEM DVD installation disk.
This issue is also preventing me from updating to VistaSP1 which my computer so desperately needs. When I was running Vista SP1 Beta (The Final Refresh Client Before The Final Release) my computer was running amazingly ever since Microsoft Call Support told me to uninstall the beta and try to do a clean install of SP1 my computer has been running like crap. Its true when they tell you that you'll be running a crippled system after the beta is gone. Please Help Me!!! Thank You.
Hi Folks

Personally, I think MS took a few steps Backwards with the Repair Installation routine in Vista.
Doing a repair install with XP was quick, efficient, and very Rarely did it cause any problems that I found. Doing a repair install in Vista is another story COMPLETELY!!! I have tried to do a repair install within Vista a number of times (due to some conflicts found later) and every one of them failed at around 98 to 99%...

Now that was frustrating to say the least, to get all that way and then have it fail at the finish line, and from what I've seen on the WWW, I'm not the only one who's had this issue.
Something in the way they've changed things with Vista, like being an "Image" now, has made repair installs very unstable and prone to failure nowadays it seems. Too bad because a Repair install was the best way to fix an OS that was just starting to get Funky.
Hi Celestial,

It will if you are able to create a Vista installation DVD with the SP1 slipstreamed into it. Afterwards, you will be able to use that DVD to run a repair install.

I'm in the process of testing vLite's process to see if they got it working yet to create one. If it works, I'm going to make a tutorial on it. I'll put you on my list and send you a PM when it is working. Plus, I'll put a link to it in this tutorial.

I hope it works,

I want to repair my Vista Home Premium system, so I followed your instructions to create a Vista iso file that incorporates SP1 and burn a DVD using vLite. Well, it starts, but it won't let me "upgrade." That option is grayed out and a note says I have to upgrade to a version that is more recent than the version installed. Dumb, because it's the same version. So I'm stuck. The only option is to get out of the installation. What should I do next? My MAIN problem right now is that Windows Media Player crashes as soon as it starts up. I was on line with the Chat people at Microsoft last night for over 2 hours trying to fix it. Then they went home during one of my reboots. Any ideas? There have been other odd things that happen as well where a program will stop responding for a while, then comes alive again if I wait long enough. Some never return. So there's something really buggy about this installation (it was a clean "scratch" install), and I thought a repair might fix it, but there was the SP1 issue. I'm getting to like Vista less and less.

Hi Bob, and welcome to Vista Forums. :party:

Is your copy of Vista a Updrade or Full version? I'm noticing that the Full version will not give the option to select Upgrade for some reason. This is from either booting from the DVD or running it from within Vista.

Hi I have a oem dvd of vista home premium but somehow when it setup it omitted the system volume shadow copy service so now i find i cannot use system restore. sfc /scannow says there are no errors with the system files though when i try to find the shadow copy service i get told its not installed so i cannot restart it. I was hoping i could use repair install to correct this but it seems like it is going to be a problem. I have not been given the option of vist sp1 cause i think the volumer shadow copy service is not operating. I am loathe to clean install the program again cause 1) if it didnt install last time what is to stop it failing to install it again and 2) cause of the programs i have paid to download some of which had to be installed in a specific time. Is there any way around this. I have tried the microsoft forums but the silence is deafening.:mad::mad::cry:
Hi Vijayl,

Is your OEM Vista installation DVD a recovery or express DVD? If it is an express DVD, then you should be able to use it to do this Repair (Upgrade) install without losing your programs.

A recovery DVD will only let you do a clean install though. :(

Will the repair installation work the same way outside of Vista (e.g., booting from the CD)? I've created a slipstream CD with SP1 following your (great) instructions, and wonder if this will work when installing a new motherboard and processor--that is, choose "upgrade" from the slipstream CD as a way of clearing out old MB drivers and loading new ones. If so, would the instructions about leaving the Product Key empty be the same? (I realize that I'm probably going to need to do a phone activation irrespective because of the hardware changes.)
I know a clean installation would be better, but I'd like to avoid it if possible....

Welcome to Vista Forums. :party:

Sorry, but when you have a new motherboard and CPU, it's best to do a clean install for Vista to run properly with them instead.

A Repair (upgrade) install will not run from booting to the CD/DVD, only from within the OS. Plus, it will not delete the old drivers.

Sorry, :(
Yeah, I know a clean install is "best," but I think I'll give the upgrade/repair route a try. At least under XP and 2000, Microsoft noted you could do this via an upgrade from within the OS and then, on the first reboot, turn off the computer, replace the motherboard, and then continue (or do a "repair" booting from the OS disk with the new motherboard). See How to replace the motherboard on a computer that is running Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, or Windows 2000. This reinstalls the HAL and other drivers appropriate for the new motherboard. It isn't clear to me that Vista operates, for this purpose, any differently--and I'm game to give it a try. (I'm not certain whether setting the "detect HAL" option in msconfig adds anything to that or not.) As for old, unneeded drivers, some may be able to be removed manually.

At least, I'm going to give it a try. The worst that happens (I hope) is that I waste some time before doing a clean install and reloading all the programs.... It will be a couple of days before I get around to it; I'll post how it goes.