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Installing Windows Vista on a new or formatted hard drive


This guide is intended to provide an accurate and well-established procedure for installing Windows Vista on a new or freshly formatted hard drive. By following this procedure, any data on the hard drive you are installing Windows Vista on will be permanently erased. This guide does not cover hard drives configured in a RAID setup. For information on installing Windows Vista on a RAIDed hard drive configuration, Click Here.


This guide is intended for informational purposes only. By using this guide, you agree to accept full responsibility for any damage or loss of data or equipment.

Minimum System Requirements

Vista Home Premium, Business, and 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

Installing Windows

Insert your Windows Vista DVD and restart your computer. Your computer must be configured to boot from the DVD drive first. You may need to configure your computer’s BIOS to boot priority to boot from the CD or DVD drive first. Please refer to your motherboard’s User Manual for instructions on how to do this.

You may see a “Press any key to boot from CD…” message on your screen. This message will only be present for a few seconds. Press a key. Once your computer boots to the DVD, the setup process will begin.

Select your language, Time and Currency format, and Keyboard or Input method, and click “Next”

Type your product key that came with your copy of Vista. (Note: Your Product key should be located on a label on the back or bottom of your computer. If you cannot locate your Vista Product Key, contact the vendor you purchased your computer from for assistance.

You must accept the terms of the End User License Agreement (EULA) before you can install Windows Vista.

Choose whether you are upgrading from a previous Windows installation to Windows Vista. If you are installing a fresh installation of Windows Vista, select the Custom option.


Setup will copy files to your hard drive. After the files are copied to your hard drive, setup will begin to install Windows Vista.

Select the drive on which you would like to install Vista. You can delete, format, create, and extend partitions or hard drives by clicking Drive options (advanced).

The Vista Installation wizard will copy the necessary files to your hard drive and begin the installation process. The Vista Installation wizard will automatically restart your computer at various stages of the installation process.

You may see a “Press any key to boot from CD…” message — do NOT press any key. The computer will automatically continue the installation process.

Setup has finished installing key components of the Vista operating system, and is now preparing to load Windows Vista for the first time to start the next phase of the installation process.

Setup is finished installing Windows Vista and the main components necessary to run your computer. Your computer will now restart and load into Windows Vista for the first time.

Setup will next guide you through creating user accounts and personalizing your installation of Windows Vista. Once this information is entered, the Vista Installation wizard will finish the installation process.

Type a name for your computer and select a desktop background.

You will be presented with some basic configuration options. Select how you’d like to handle Windows Updates.

Create the Administrator Account on this computer by assigning a user name and a password. Other accounts can be added later on from the Control Panel.

Set your Date and Time.

Installation Complete

Congratulations! Windows Vista is now installed on your computer. However, we are not done yet. You may still need to install drivers for your motherboard devices, your graphics and sound cards, and any other hardware installed in or connected to your computer.

Installing Hardware Drivers

Now that Vista is installed, the next step is to install your hardware drivers. Installing drivers for your hardware will insure that you have access to all of your computer’s resources and increase the stability of your computer.

Motherboard Resources – Your motherboard came with a CD containing drivers for components on your motherboard such as chip sets, USB, Ethernet, and on-board devices such as audio or video. These drivers should be installed first. Use the CD to install these drivers. Later if you wish, you can update these drivers from the vendor website.

Graphics and Sound (If not built into the motherboard) – Install the drivers and software for your graphics and sound cards either from the accompanying software or by downloading the latest drivers from the vendor websites.

Other Devices – Printers, scanners, multimedia keyboards and other such devices can now be installed. Please refer to the component’s user’s guide for installation assistance.

The Device Manager

The Device Manager provides the best and easiest method of verifying and updating drivers. To access the Device Manager, click on the Start button, then right-click on Computer and select Properties.


Select the Device Manager in the left-side column of the System Properties screen.


Look for anything in the Device list showing a question mark, an exclamation mark, or a red X. This indicates that a driver is missing or not properly installed, or that there is a hardware conflict.


Double-clicking on the device will bring up the properties for that device and provide an opportunity to install the required drivers.


The Device Properties windows provides many options for installing and configuring a device. In this instance, we need to install a driver. Click on the Driver tab, and select Update Driver. You can either have the Hardware Wizard install a driver automatically, which will search your CD drives and Microsoft’s servers for a driver, or you can install a driver from a specific location, such as a file on a CD or a downloaded driver.

Windows Updates

After your drivers are installed and you have access to the Internet, you will need to install any Windows Vista updates from Microsoft’s website at windowsupdate.microsoft.com.
If you experience technical difficulty during or after this process, please contact your computer’s technical support department for assistance.

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