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Removing Vista and Reintalling Windows XP - Step By Step Guide

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 1/24/2010

Vista is probably Microsoft's most criticized operating system. Some people like Vista and some people don't. If you are someone that does not, you may want to remove it completely and reinstall Windows XP. Here's how you do it.

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    Backup Your Data

    backup data Doing a clean install is always a wise choice when switching to a completely new operating system. It will assure that you get the max amount of hard drive space back, and you system runs smoothly with no upgrade or downgrade issues. Before you remove Vista, you need to back up any files that you do not want to lose.

    There are a couple of ways to do this. Check out this article for more information on moving your data to CDs, DVDs, flash drives, and external hard drives.

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    Before You Get Started

    To uninstall Vista and install Windows XP, we will be doing a completely clean install. Meaning that, to remove Vista, we will simply delete all contents on the hard drive. Before you get started, make sure that you have a Windows XP install disc as well as all drivers for your computer. Some things may not work correctly if you do not have the drivers. You can use this utility to create a list of installed components, applications, and serial numbers.

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    Removing Vista and Reinstalling Windows XP

    The first step to uninstall Vista and install Windows XP is to format the hard drive.

    Insert your Windows install disc into your computer's CD/DVD drive and shut down your computer.

    When you turn the computer back on, you need to boot from CD. This process is somewhat different depending on your computer. It usually requires you to hit an F-command key when the loading screen pops up. For example, on most Dells you need to hit the F12 key as soon as you see the Dell loading screen. This will boot from CD.

    Upon doing so, you should now be on a welcome screen with a blue background and white text. Press enter to go past the welcome screen. The next screen should be the Windows licensing agreement. Push F8 to agree to the terms.

    Now, when Windows asks you if you want to repair your existing Windows installation press the ESC key to skip the repair.

    You should now be on a screen that lists all of your hard drive partitions. Look for the partition where Vista is installed. More than likely, it will be the largest partition. Navigate to it using the arrow keys and push the D button to delete it. You may have to push the L button to confirm the delete.

    No turning back now. Use the arrow keys to select the unpartitioned space. Press the C button on your keyboard, which stands for create. Press enter to confirm the maximum amount of space prompt.

    Select the new partition you just created and format it as NFTS. Depending on the size of the partition, this could take quite a bit of time.

    After it completes the formatting, follow the Windows XP setup steps. They are very straight forward. It will ask you how you connect to the Internet, your name, password, etc.

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    Install your drivers

    Congrats, you just did an uninstall of Vista and install of Windows XP. Now, you need to make sure everything on your computer works. Test out the Internet, sound, video performance, etc. If something does not work, it's because you are missing a driver. If you are using an XP install disc that came with your computer, you should also have a drivers disc came with your computer. Use it to install the drivers. If you borrowed a copy of Windows XP from a buddy or you are using a retail disc, and do not have your drivers disc, you can still get the drivers off of the Internet. Often, computer hardware manufacturers make drivers available for download on their websites. For example, if you have a NVIDIA graphics card that isn't working. You should be able to get the drivers from