Copy your data off first. If you can not start Windows 7, remove the hard drive and put it into a USB external drive housing. Connect to a working PC, copy the data off.
Always check to ensure the hard drive you are about to rebuild is actually sound from a hardware perspective. Download and run your hard drive manufacturer’s drive testing software.
If you have a corrupted Windows 7 system, you are trying to recover, you want to try a System Repair disk to boot the PC. It may be more successful in fixing and offer other alternatives. If you do not have one, go to any other PC that has windows 7 with the same bitness (32/64). Start globe, All Programs, Maintenance. You need just a blank CD. When you boot, ensure that you are in fact booting on that CD and not the hard drive. Usually pressing F12 will lead you to the option to do so.
Best alternative strategies to rebuild are the following in preference order:
- Factory restore — replaces everything on the hard drive with exactly what it had on it when you bought it. You access this before Windows starts using a special key that can varies by brand. F11 is the most common. This is an option only if the installed hard drive is the original. This is not a valid strategy on a failing hard drive.
- “Upgrade” install using the Win7 install disk. You start as if you are re-installing from scratch but when it gets to the point where it offers the Upgrade choice you choose that. This is not a valid strategy on a failing hard drive.
- Full Clean install. The only absolutely sure way to have a perfectly clean system. If you are not using a brand new disk, when it shows the screen to select where you want to put Windows, click on the Advanced link and delete all partitions. Do not install any software until after ALL Windows Updates are installed and Device Manager shows all devices installed.
You will need a Win7 install disk for 2 or 3. You will need a legal product code for 3 and the win7 disk must match the edition of the code and its bitness (32 or 64). If you do not have the original Windows 7 install disk, borrow one from a friend. If you can find it, a disk with SP1 (Service Pack 1) is going to save you many hours.
If you are doing a full clean install, first go to your computer’s OEM support site and find and download the drivers for your computer and store them on a USB stick.
NEVER install anything but Windows Updates until your system is up to date. Once you have the update list, install all of them together. Installing updates in batches will not speed the process or make it better. Next install the following :
- KB3020369 Win-7 32 https://download.microsoft.com/download/C/0/8/C0823F43-BFE9-4147-9B0A-35769CBBE6B0/Windows6.1-KB3020369-x86.msu
- Win-7 64 bit https://download.microsoft.com/download/5/D/0/5D0821EB-A92D-4CA2-9020-EC41D56B074F/Windows6.1-KB3020369-x64.msu
- KB3172605 Win-7 32 bit, https://download.microsoft.com/download/C/D/5/CD5DE7B2-E857-4BD4-AA9C-6B30C3E1735A/Windows6.1-KB3172605-x86.msu
- Win-7 64 bit, https://download.microsoft.com/download/5/6/0/560504D4-F91A-4DEB-867F-C713F7821374/Windows6.1-KB3172605-x64.msu
Now proceed to Windows Update and begin the update process.
After Windows 7, system drivers and all updates are installed and any stable applications like Microsoft Office are installed and updated, and before any data or dynamic applications are installed such as antivirus software, create a system image. It will take 3 or 6 DVD +Rs (not -Rs) and about an hour. When you are done you will have a very nice bit of insurance. Should you ever again need to re-build a corrupted system or replace a hard drive, you will have a precise duplicate of your system as it was at time you made this image. You can restore that image to a hard drive in about 20 minutes. Creation of System Image is found in your menu under Maintenance, Backup and Restore.
Another great feature about using the image is that you do not need an install disk or a product key to do the re-install the next time.
I emphasize the need for PLUS R DVD blanks. Do not use the more common MINUS R DVD blanks.