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Install Windows Vista (Clean) - A Step-by-Step Guide

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 12/10/2009

Wanting to know how to reinstall Windows Vista cleanly. Print this step-by-step guide prior to installing Windows Vista as a clean install. It will serve as a reference for the entire process.

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    Here are the steps to installing Windows Vista as a clean install:

    Note: A clean installation will delete everything on your hard drive so make sure to back up important data and settings.

    1. Insert the Windows Vista DVD in your PC's DVD drive and reboot. When prompted, choose Boot to the CD or DVD.Wait while Windows loads the required files.
    2. Click Next when prompted, and then click Install Now.
    3. Enter your Windows Vista product key. You can also choose to have Windows Vista automatically activate itself the first time you get online. (If you want to wait to type the key, you can do so after installation.)
    4. Agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA). You won't be able to install if you don't agree to the terms.
    5. Select Custom (advanced) as the install type. Click Next.
    6. Select where to install Windows Vista. On a clean install, you should install Windows Vista to the C: drive, which should ideally be the only disk available.
    7. If you see More Options, click it. Here you can format the current disk and its partitions, hopefully creating a disk that contains one single partition (or possibly two).
    8. Wait while Setup copies the required files. (When the computer reboots, don't do anything; just let it go through its process.)
    9. After a while, your PC will prompt you for a user name. Select a picture if desired.
    10. Type a name for your PC and choose a desktop background.
    11. Enable Automatic Updates, and use the recommended settings. At least that's my suggestion.
    12. Configure the time zone, date, and time.
    13. If your network card is detected and you're able to get online, you'll be prompted to choose a location, i.e. from home (and thus private), work (public), or a location such as at a library, coffee shop, hotel, or airport (public).
    14. Setup will tell you when it's finished.