How to transfer or reinstall Windows 7

The following procedure outlines a manual Windows 7 reinstall or transfer (either to another hard drive or another computer). Note: simply moving the hard drive to another (or newer) computer is not always the best solution. In either case, Windows will detect the hardware change and will ask to be re-activated. But additionally, the transfer is in most cases due to Windows becoming too slow or becoming infected with a virus or malware.

There may be a program which can automate this process. I do not know. I would not trust a program to know everything about how I use the computer and where I place my files. This procedure is for an experienced user only, and is not for a newbie.

Although this instruction is for Windows 7 primarily, it can be adapted for Vista with minimal changes, and to XP with more involved changes (mostly the paths listed here).

You may wish to print this instruction out, and check off items as you go.


Why is this done this way? Because this procedure will:

1) Save your old hard drive with your old windows installation in case something goes wrong or you need access to your old installation.

2) Save all of your old programs and files for backup purposes. Place the old hard drive in a safe, and in case of emergency you can recover your files from the old hard drive.


Let's start. Before we begin the procedure, we need to:

1. Buy an external HD, and two secondary replacements for your desktop HD. Configure the two new hard drives as RAID 1.

2. Find Windows license key.

3. Dedicate 6 hours to the process.

4. Copy (mirror) user profile to external HD. I recommend FreeFileSync (it copies locked files)

If copying the full user profile manually, then first run disk cleanup, empty temporary local files, and empty IE and Firefox cache.

5. Copy user and "all users" start menu shortcuts.

6. Create shortcuts to all Program files (32 and 64 bit) and move to external HD.

7. Check for any programs which cannot be downloaded and reinstalled for free from the Internet. For any paid programs, find serial numbers / keys.

8. Copy all user profiles to external storage (again, but this time manually).

9. Save Firefox add-ons and passwords (easiest to save as screenshots with a program such as Gadwin Printscreen).

10. Go thru all other programs to see if they require passwords, or that they saved passwords to third-party logins (FTP, etc).

11. Take a screenshot of desktop, with taskbar visible. This will aid to recreate the startup items you had enabled.

12. Export Firefox bookmarks as 2 filetypes (json and html).

13. Take screenshot of snapped start menu items.

14. Check for any programs in the root of the C: drive

15. Go thru the whole start menu list for any program settings that must be transferred.

17. Take screenshot of msconfig startup items.


Install Windows 7 on the new hard drive. RAID is usually set up in BIOS or with a utility which runs after BIOS but before Windows starts.

Install my recommended and useful programs: Administrative Tools, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader 9, Audacity, avast! Free Antivirus, Broken Shortcut Fixer, FileZilla FTP Client, Firefox, FreeFileSync, Gadwin Printscreen, HotSwap!, Java, Kompozer, Media Player Classic HomeCinema, Nitro PDF, NoClone 2011 Home, Notepad++, OpenOffice, Paint.NET, PeerBlock, PowerISO, PrimoPDF, Spybot S&D with TeaTimer, TeamViewer, Unlocker, VLC Media Player, Windows Live Essentials, WinRAR.


Reinitialize windows settings:

Folder Options:

  • Always show menus
  • Show hidden files (optional)
  • Launch folder windows in a separate process
  • Restore previous folder windows at logon


Advanced System Settings:

  • Do not restart on BSOD
  • Create a small memory dump


Desktop settings:

  • Show desktop (quick launch)
  • Medium size (dpi) screen text
  • Show computer icon on desktop.
  • Do not snap to maximize (Ease of Access). Ease of access>Make mouse easier to use>Prevent windows from being rearranged.
  • Show computer and user shortcut on desktop
  • Disable certain system icons and notifications


Start Menu Properties:

  • Combine only when taskbar is full
  • Display control panel as a menu
  • Turn off games, turn off help, turn off highlight newly installed programs
  • Enable run command
  • Display System Administrative tools


Misc Windows settings:

  • Change power options. at the least, enable hibernation after 1 hour.
  • Disable windows sounds and do not play startup sound
  • User accounts>UAC>do not dim my desktop
  • Go to msconfig, and turn off all of the idiotic and unneeded startup items which were turned on as you have installed software into the new Windows installation.
  • Add Copy To... and Move To...


Note: OpenOffice user dictionary and Windows sidebar gadget items are located inside the user profile.

I always disable the (to me) pointless "Libraries" function, especially in the file open / save dialogs.


Install absolutely all updates before doing anything else.

˅˅˅ Additional valuable information is available at one of the links below: ˅˅˅


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Page last modified 30-Dec-12 21:14:44 EST
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