If your Windows 7 computer has been infected by a virus or has slowed down to the point of being unusable, reinstalling Windows 7 may be the best and quickest solution. The method below reinstalls Windows 7 from a recovery image on the Dell Operating System Installation Disc that came with your computer.
Things to consider
- Restoring your computer to its original factory settings takes less time than reinstalling Windows 7. Check to see if this could be a better solution for you. Keep in mind that after reinstalling Windows 7, you will no longer have this option.
- If you do not have the Dell Operating System Installation Disc and you have an expired warranty, you may want to purchase the Dell Direct USB Key Solution to reinstall Windows 7.
- If your laptop does not have an optical drive, you can contact Dell Technical Support for information on how to mail in your computer for repair or purchase an external optical drive to continue with your reinstallation.
- If your computer has more than one hard drive and a RAID configuration installed, refer to your user guide for additional information about the type of RAID configuration your computer supports. You will find instructions on how to configure it for reinstallation.
What you'll need
- Dell Operating System Installation Disc
- Dell Resource CD/DVD (also available on the Dell Drivers and Downloads page)
- Any software and/or documentation for your internet service connection
- Any application install discs
- Any install discs for external devices (such as a printer) and internal devices added to your Dell computer after purchase
- If you did not receive installation media with your Dell computer, see the Dell support article on backup and recovery software without installation media.
To manually reinstall Windows 7
Step 1: Back up your important files and data.
We recommend backing up your files and data to an external hard drive, DVDs, CDs or other removable storage media. Follow these simple instructions
- Open the Backup and Restore menu by clicking Start, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore.
- If backing up to removable media, connect the external hard drive or insert a blank DVD or CD now.
- If this is your first backup, click Set up backup and follow the steps in the wizard. If you've created a backup before, click Back up now. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Step 2: Disconnect non-essential devices from your computer.
Except for the monitor, keyboard and mouse, disconnect any nonessential external device, including:
- Modem or Network cables
- Mobile phone
- USB flash drive or other external hard drive
Note: Remove the computer from the docking station if you are using one.
Step 3: Reinstall Windows 7 using the Dell Operating System Installation Disc.
- To run the installation disc, insert the Windows installation disc into the DVD drive.
- Restart your computer.
- When the Press any key to boot from the CD or DVD message appears, press any key to continue.
Note: If the disc does not begin to run, press your computer's Power button and watch for the Dell logo to appear. When the logo appears, press the F12 key to load the Boot menu. If this menu does not appear, try restarting your computer again and pressing F12several times when the Dell logo appears. Once the Boot menu opens, select CD/DVD drive (listed also as CD-Rom or CD/DVD/CD-RW) and press Enter.
- When Windows 7 Setup appears, confirm that the Language, Time, Currency and Keyboard Method fields display the correct settings.
- On the Windows 7 Installation dialog box, click Install Now.
- Review the license agreement, and click I accept the license terms.
- On the Which type of installation do you want? window, click Custom (advanced).
- On the Where do you want to install Windows window, select the largest internal disc as the Primary Partition, then click Next. If the Primary Partition shows 0GB free, select Unallocated Space and click Next.
- Your computer will restart.
- Personalize and customize your Windows 7 operating system by following the instructions on the following screens.
- When your Desktop screen appears, you are ready for the next step.
Step 4: Install Dell drivers.
- Insert the Dell Resource CD/DVD or go to the Dell Drivers and Downloads page and enter your Service Tag.
- We recommend that you print the list of drivers below, so you can refer to the correct order as you install. Be sure to follow the order listed, as some devices may not work if drivers are installed in a different order.
- Install the drivers that match the components on your computer. Remember to follow the order below.
|Driver or application name
||What it does|
|1. Dell System Software
||Provides critical updates and patches for the operating system.|
|2. Chipset driver
||Helps Windows control system board components and controllers, such as USB ports and other internal components.|
|3. PCMCIA and/or Smartcard drivers
||Enables PCMCIA and Smartcard slot capability.|
|4. Intel Matrix Storage Manager
||The Intel storage driver is only applicable to Intel chipset computers.|
|5. Audio driver
||Enables and enhances the audio controller.|
|6. Video driver
||Enhances video performance.|
|7. Network interface card or ethernet drivers
||Enhances the network controller for internet or network access.|
|8. ControlPoint System Manager, ControlPoint Security Manager, and ControlPoint Connection Manager
Note: This driver is only needed for some Latitude laptops, and depending on your system configuration, you might not need to install all three parts.
||The Dell ControlPoint (DCP) controls power management for some Dell Latitude laptops. ControlPoint System Manager controls power management and ambient light sensor settings, ControlPoint Security Manager controls security features, and ControlPoint Connection Manager controls wireless connection profiles.|
|9. Dell Quickset
||Controls power management and ambient light sensors.|
|10. Wireless network drivers
||Enables and enhances the wireless network controller.|
|11. Bluetooth drivers
Note: If this driver is not available, then your computer doesn't have Bluetooth capability. Continue to the next driver on the list.
||Enables and controls Bluetooth connectivity.|
|12. Mouse, keyboard, touchpad and input device drivers
||Mouse, Keyboard & Input Devices
||Enhances pointing device features.|
|13. Intel vPro or AMT (if available)
||Enhances system manageability.|
|14. Dell wireless mobile broadband card drivers (if available)
||Enables wireless broadband connectivity.|
|15. Modem drivers (if available)
||Allows dial-up capability.|
|16. Dell Digitech touch screen driver (if available)
||Mouse, Keyboard & Input Devices
||Enables touch screen input on select Dell laptops.|
Step 5: Connect your computer to the internet or network.
Plug in any network or modem cables you disconnected in step 2.
- If your computer connects to the internet through a router, follow the connection instructions that came with your router.
- If your computer uses a wireless network adapter, Windows will automatically detect wireless networks in range of your device. Go to Connect to a Network by clicking the network icon (wireless network status bars or computer with wired network) in the notification area of the taskbar.
Note: For troubleshooting information, see the Microsoft support article Why can't I find a wireless network?
After connecting your computer to a network
- Allow a few minutes for your computer to find and connect to the network. Then test your connection by opening a web browser on your computer. If the web page opens, you can move on to Step 6. Otherwise, continue in order.
- Install any connection software given to you by your internet service provider (ISP).
- Configure your network settings as shown on the documentation provided to you by your ISP. Or call your ISP for more information.
Step 6: Install critical and recommended Windows updates
Once you are connected to the internet:
- Click Start and point to All Programs. Then click Windows Update.
- Click Check for updates.
- For all recommended or critical updates, follow the instructions provided to install those updates.
Step 7: Reinstall your applications
To reinstall your applications, insert the application installion disc for each program in the CD/DVD drive and follow the prompts or re-install each program from the manufacturer's website if that option is available to you.
Step 8: Reinstall your third-party hardware and software drivers
For each external or internal devise you added to your computer after purchasing from Dell, refer to the documentation that came with the device for reinstallation instructions. Some devices require you to install the associated software before connecting the device to your computer.
Step 9: Restore your personal files and data from backups
- Open the Backup and Restore menu by clicking Start, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and clicking Backup and Restore.
- To restore your files, click Restore my files. To restore the files of all users, click Restore all users' files.
Note: For more details, see the Microsoft support article Restore files from a backup.