Other re­in­stall op­tions for your PC

Windows Help & Advice - - SUPPORT TECHNICAL HELP -

So far, we’ve cov­ered both tra­di­tional re­in­stall tech­niques, but there are other rea­sons – and meth­ods – for re­in­stalling Win­dows. First up is the re­cov­ery op­tion. Most pre-built PCs come with a built-in man­u­fac­turer’s re­cov­ery par­ti­tion that en­ables you to re­store Win­dows to its fac­tory shipped con­di­tion. The main ad­van­tage of this method – aside from be­ing cheaper and eas­ier for the man­u­fac­turer, of course – is that your PC is re­stored to a guar­an­teed work­ing state, with all the driv­ers it needs to func­tion. The down­sides are that a lot of ex­tra un­wanted soft­ware is usu­ally in­stalled along­side Win­dows, you need to ex­er­cise ex­treme cau­tion not to lose ev­ery­thing on the drive, and that if the re­cov­ery par­ti­tion cor­rupts – typ­i­cally due to hard­ware fail­ure – you’re left with no means of re­in­stalling Win­dows.

If you’re plan­ning to re­in­stall Win­dows by this method, look for a prompt to start re­cov­ery when you first boot Win­dows or look for the op­tion un­der the ‘Ad­vanced start-up’ menu (see below) – con­sult your com­puter’s doc­u­men­ta­tion or man­u­fac­turer’s web­site for de­tails. Re­mem­ber that most re­cov­ery op­tions are fully de­struc­tive, so be sure to have backed up your sys­tem be­fore you be­gin – and that in­cludes cre­at­ing a com­plete drive im­age.

Down­grade Win­dows

An­other rea­son to re­in­stall Win­dows is to re­vert to an ear­lier ver­sion. If you’re pin­ing for Win­dows 7 or 8.1, then it’s usu­ally pos­si­ble to down­grade your copy of Win­dows – re­mem­ber sup­port for Win­dows 7 ends in Jan­uary 2020, and Win­dows 8.1 in Jan­uary 2023. Be­fore reach­ing for your old Win­dows me­dia, how­ever, you need to do some home­work first.

First, if you up­graded your PC to Win­dows 10 from an older ver­sion of Win­dows, restor­ing that ver­sion should be straight­for­ward in the sense you can use your man­u­fac­turer’s re­cov­ery par­ti­tion if it still holds the orig­i­nal ver­sion, or you can try in­stalling from an old, un­used copy of Win­dows 7 or 8.1 – just fol­low the guides to pre­par­ing and re­in­stalling Win­dows ear­lier on in this fea­ture. Do source the cor­rect driv­ers for your PC first, though, and ver­ify that your new soft­ware is back­wards com­pat­i­ble (desk­top apps should be, but Mi­crosoft Store apps won’t work in Win­dows 7, and some may not work in Win­dows 8.1 ei­ther).

If your PC came with Win­dows 8.1 or 10 pre­in­stalled, then go­ing back to Win­dows 7 will be trick­ier and pos­si­bly even im­pos­si­ble. Be­fore em­bark­ing on this, check the web to see if oth­ers have had sim­i­lar suc­cess. You’ll need to source your own Win­dows 7 in­stal­la­tion me­dia and valid li­cence, and you’ll al­most cer­tainly need to have ac­cess to your PC’s UEFI set­tings – if Fast Boot is en­abled, open Set­tings > ‘Up­date & re­cov­ery’ and click ‘Restart now’ un­der ‘Ad­vanced start-up’. When prompted, se­lect Trou­bleshoot > Ad­vanced Op­tions > UEFI Firmware Set­tings.

Once in­side your PC’s UEFI set­tings you need to lo­cate and change three set­tings. First, dis­able the Fast Boot fea­ture. Sec­ond, dis­able Se­cure Boot. And fi­nally, look for a CSM (Com­pat­i­bil­ity Sup­port Mo­d­ule) op­tion and make sure it’s en­abled. All three set­tings need to be made to sup­port Win­dows 7 – if you can’t find them, con­sult with your PC or moth­er­board man­u­fac­turer.

Once done, you should find you’re able to boot from your Win­dows 7 in­stal­la­tion me­dia, en­abling you to re­vert to the ear­lier copy of Win­dows.

Set up a dual-boot PC

Our fi­nal sce­nario is one where you in­stall two ver­sions of Win­dows side-by- side. This is a step for ad­vanced users only, and if you’re merely plan­ning to in­stall an older ver­sion of Win­dows next to Win­dows 10 for com­pat­i­bil­ity pur­poses, ex­plore al­ter­na­tive op­tions, namely set­ting up a vir­tual Win­dows 7 ma­chine us­ing a tool such as Vir­tu­alBox (www.vir­tu­albox.org), which runs in­side your main Win­dows in­stal­la­tion.

If you are de­ter­mined to dual-boot your setup, the step-by-step guide on the fac­ing page cov­ers the process of in­stalling an older ver­sion of Win­dows along­side your cur­rent one.

Be­fore you be­gin also make sure you take a fail-safe drive im­age us­ing Macrium Re­flect Free and be sure to cre­ate the res­cue me­dia, too.

“If you’re pin­ing for Win­dows 7 or 8.1, it’s usu­ally pos­si­ble to down­grade your copy of Win­dows”

Fetch the driv­ers for whichever ver­sion of Win­dows you in­stall.

Look un­der the ‘Ad­vanced start-up’ menu for fac­tory re­store op­tions.

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