Warning: Manually Reinstalling Windows Vista is a Bad Idea!

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poppafred

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Here something I have learned the hard way in the past 48 hours:

If your computer manufacturer sends you a reinstallation DVD with the computer, doing a manual reinstallation of Vista should be your LAST resort. Even if a Microsoft Technical Support technician tells you to do it, Do NOT manually reinstall Windows until you talk to your computer manufacturer's support team.

Here's why:

With most Windows computers being sold today, there is a partition on the hard drive that you can use to recover the system back to as it was when originally shipped. If you do a recovery, you will loose your personal data that you have put on the hard drive but manually reinstalling Windows might be worse, you could loose the hard drive all together. Unless you have a commercially purchased Vista disk, you do not have the utilities to format the hard drive and repartition it, they are not included on the OEM disks any more.

Dell is sending me a new hard drive because a Microsoft Tech had me do a manual reinstall.

Details:

I attempted to install Vista Service Pack 2 from Windows Update but it failed and locked up my computer. It also apparently corrupted some of the system files because a Restore did not completely fix things. I contacted Microsoft Tech Support and the tech there walked me through a manual reinstallation. That worked. I then attempted to upgrade with the Stand Alone SP2 and that seemed to work until I shut down, disconnected the power supply and took the computer into another room. The laptop would not cold boot. I called Dell for help as I should have to start with. The Dell support tech told me that when I manually reinstalled Windows Vista Home Premium, the reinstallation overwrote the only utility on the drive that could be used to access the recovery partition. We used to be able to get to a command prompt outside of the Windows kernel and run our computers as DOS machines. You can NOT do that with a Vista machine. The command prompt is available only INSIDE Vista's "Safe Mode" and trying to run the recovery program from there will be blocked by Vista protecting its core files from being deleted. The manual reinstallation changed the one utility that is accessed by pressing the F8 key, a utility specifically written for my Dell laptop. If you are running Vista on your computer, it is probably set up the same way. That utility correctly refers the OS to the Recovery partition where the image file of the factory installation is stored. After that utility was replaced by my manual reinstallation, the computer could not find that image file and thus the hard drive cannot now be recovered. I was left with two choices. I could either get a new hard drive from Dell or I could buy an over the counter version of Vista.

Luckily, for me, the laptop is only 2 weeks old and Dell is not going to charge me for this replacement hard drive.

I want to repeat myself just to be sure I am being clear to everyone:

Manually reinstalling Vista may make your hard drive recovery partition inaccessible and might cost you a computer.

Call your computer manufacturer's tech support before doing a manual reinstallation!

You might be charged for the call but that will still be cheaper than a new computer!


I hope this is not old business that has already been discussed. I could not find any posts covering it in this forum and I wanted to try to spare someone the grief and a similar fate if at all possible.

Good Luck!
 

mike_s104

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Good reason to backup the recovery partition and do a fresh install of Vista or Windows 7 from an OEM/VLE/TechNet/MDSN source before anything else. I did this with the wife's HP laptop and other than recovering a large bit of the hard drive, none of the bloatware is installed and I got her running Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit and not the Vista Home Premium 32bit which has RDP disabled (can do a simple fix) and cannot place it in AD. I do this at work and home. The only time I had an issue with it was on a Sony Vaio running Windows 98. That piece of crap would not run right even with the same drivers unless you loaded the OS from their disk; luckily it wasn't mine. Main reason I'll never buy Sony computers.

If you don't have access to those OS install discs, a lot of times you can get the recovery media from the manufacture for a small cost.

Another thing you may want to try in the future is to not download the SP via Updates but rather manually download it locally and install it from there. Actually, the first thing I do after installing Windows and any Office application is install the latest SP. Then I do all the MS updates unless there is a few I don't want/need/can't install. If you can, look for some free imaging software. Once you have the PC as a base install before loading up with your favorite software, take an image to something like an external USB hard drive. Whatever software you use, make sure it has a bootable media and access to the location where you placed the base image. This way if the PC blows up and you need to re-image, you can be back up and running very quickly. Re-imaging will remove any files and/or settings you may have on it after you imaged it. You might want to invest in a simple IDE/SATA to USB adapter so you can remove the drive and recover the files on another PC if you have one.
 

SCPD

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Here something I have learned the hard way in the past 48 hours:

If your computer manufacturer sends you a reinstallation DVD with the computer, doing a manual reinstallation of Vista should be your LAST resort. Even if a Microsoft Technical Support technician tells you to do it, Do NOT manually reinstall Windows until you talk to your computer manufacturer's support team.

Here's why:

With most Windows computers being sold today, there is a partition on the hard drive that you can use to recover the system back to as it was when originally shipped. If you do a recovery, you will loose your personal data that you have put on the hard drive but manually reinstalling Windows might be worse, you could loose the hard drive all together. Unless you have a commercially purchased Vista disk, you do not have the utilities to format the hard drive and repartition it, they are not included on the OEM disks any more.

Dell is sending me a new hard drive because a Microsoft Tech had me do a manual reinstall.

Details:

I attempted to install Vista Service Pack 2 from Windows Update but it failed and locked up my computer. It also apparently corrupted some of the system files because a Restore did not completely fix things. I contacted Microsoft Tech Support and the tech there walked me through a manual reinstallation. That worked. I then attempted to upgrade with the Stand Alone SP2 and that seemed to work until I shut down, disconnected the power supply and took the computer into another room. The laptop would not cold boot. I called Dell for help as I should have to start with. The Dell support tech told me that when I manually reinstalled Windows Vista Home Premium, the reinstallation overwrote the only utility on the drive that could be used to access the recovery partition. We used to be able to get to a command prompt outside of the Windows kernel and run our computers as DOS machines. You can NOT do that with a Vista machine. The command prompt is available only INSIDE Vista's "Safe Mode" and trying to run the recovery program from there will be blocked by Vista protecting its core files from being deleted. The manual reinstallation changed the one utility that is accessed by pressing the F8 key, a utility specifically written for my Dell laptop. If you are running Vista on your computer, it is probably set up the same way. That utility correctly refers the OS to the Recovery partition where the image file of the factory installation is stored. After that utility was replaced by my manual reinstallation, the computer could not find that image file and thus the hard drive cannot now be recovered. I was left with two choices. I could either get a new hard drive from Dell or I could buy an over the counter version of Vista.

Luckily, for me, the laptop is only 2 weeks old and Dell is not going to charge me for this replacement hard drive.

I want to repeat myself just to be sure I am being clear to everyone:

Manually reinstalling Vista may make your hard drive recovery partition inaccessible and might cost you a computer.

Call your computer manufacturer's tech support before doing a manual reinstallation!

You might be charged for the call but that will still be cheaper than a new computer!


I hope this is not old business that has already been discussed. I could not find any posts covering it in this forum and I wanted to try to spare someone the grief and a similar fate if at all possible.

Good Luck!
Drivel. I run Vista and every computer system that I have seen that has a recovery partition at one time or antoher prompts you to make a restore DVD. That should have been your first clue. Second, since the computer came preloaded with Windows from Dell, why bother Microsoft? You're call should have gone to Dell.

I've reloaded from my restore DVD and never had any problems. I had more issues trying to load XP on my Dell notebook than with Vista. Why's it that when people have issues they are quick to point the finger at others and not consider it may have been something they did?

I've seen many computers screwed up, because the customer "knows what they are doing." And yup, I've made money off those same all knowing customers while reloading their system because they screwed it up.

Sometimes it pays to RTFM.
 

mike_s104

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LOL! You know Vista sucks. Why else did you upgrade to Win7? :cool:
Because I have TechNet and have access to almost whatever I want. :)


Honestly, I've ran Vista at home ever since it first came out and it DID have issues before SP1, but after that it was fine. I've been running it at work for about 2 years without any issues (after SP1). I took a class for Windows 7 before it was released to TechNet and was very impressed and had to install it once I had access to it.
 

iMONITOR

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Because I have TechNet and have access to almost whatever I want. :)


Honestly, I've ran Vista at home ever since it first came out and it DID have issues before SP1, but after that it was fine. I've been running it at work for about 2 years without any issues (after SP1). I took a class for Windows 7 before it was released to TechNet and was very impressed and had to install it once I had access to it.
Did they ever fix the serious issue with file transfers being so slow over networks?
 

SCPD

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Did they ever fix the serious issue with file transfers being so slow over networks?
God I hated that issue. I recall running into a fix, by editing the registry. It wasn't perfect, but it did speed transfers up. That's really the only issue I ever had with Vista.

As noted, the service packs seemed to have cleaned Vista up. The only problem I experience these days is Firefox getting sluggish and not releasing memory effectively, but that's a Firefox issue and not Vista.

Windows 7 though, is notably better though. I find it to be faster loading, applications load faster and the graphics seem smoother.
 

mike_s104

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Did they ever fix the serious issue with file transfers being so slow over networks?
God I hated that issue. I recall running into a fix, by editing the registry. It wasn't perfect, but it did speed transfers up. That's really the only issue I ever had with Vista.

As noted, the service packs seemed to have cleaned Vista up. The only problem I experience these days is Firefox getting sluggish and not releasing memory effectively, but that's a Firefox issue and not Vista.

Windows 7 though, is notably better though. I find it to be faster loading, applications load faster and the graphics seem smoother.

SP1 fixed it. The registry "fix" didn't fix it for me. I ended up using Total Commander until SP1 came out.
 

poppafred

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West Central Arkansas
Drivel. I run Vista and every computer system that I have seen that has a recovery partition at one time or antoher prompts you to make a restore DVD. That should have been your first clue. Second, since the computer came preloaded with Windows from Dell, why bother Microsoft? You're call should have gone to Dell.

I've reloaded from my restore DVD and never had any problems. I had more issues trying to load XP on my Dell notebook than with Vista. Why's it that when people have issues they are quick to point the finger at others and not consider it may have been something they did?

I've seen many computers screwed up, because the customer "knows what they are doing." And yup, I've made money off those same all knowing customers while reloading their system because they screwed it up.

Sometimes it pays to RTFM.
I know I messed up so spare me the lecture.

RTFP - Read the frigging post. You missed my point completely and wound up saying the very same thing I had just said.

I am trying to tell people to NOT go to Microsoft for a software issue, contact the computer manufacturer's tech support. In my case Dell. And regardless of WHO tells them to do a manual reinstallation, to ignore them and do a recovery first. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever come right out and openly said that!

No one.

Not even the manual.

I know, I read through it several times trying to find an answer before I called Microsoft. In the past, calling Dell for a software issue would result in a referral to Microsoft. Obviously, that has changed.

Microsoft's walk through of a manual reinstallation was an attempt to recover the hard drive without overwriting my personal data. It is not widely known nor posted openly anywhere, that I can find, that a manual reinstallation will remove your ability to do a factory recovery.

Not one place.

I am just trying to save someone else out there the grief and time that I have lost by listening to an "expert" at Microsoft, someone that most people would believe would know what they were doing. Obviously, even they don't consider all the possibilities.

And I don't understand your caustic tone. If you talk to customers the way you have communicated to me, you will not be in business long unless you are their last resort. And if you ever get any competition, you are in trouble.
 
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