How to install Windows 7 – What to do before start [Part 1]

Installing Windows 7

On how to install Windows 7 — What to do before start (which is the first part of three-part tutorial on the preinstallation of Windows 7 and it will continue throughout other tutorials, detailing various ways to install the operating system in your computer), we are going to cover when this process is useful. We’ll explain what you need to know and do before start the installation process including, what are Windows 7 hardware requirements, and how to prepare your computer to install Windows 7. There is a lot to go through so let’s get started.

Doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a power user, the Windows 7 installation process is almost inescapable. Knowing the secrets of upgrade, dual-boot, reinstall, and perform a clean installation can set a big difference between a system running in harmony and a box of troubles. If you have previous experience with the Windows Vista setup, many of those skills will continue to be useful. However if you are moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, this will be a whole new learning experience.

This what to do before start tutorial should be useful if you are planning to dual-boot, reinstall, upgrade or install Windows 7 in a brand new or a computer/laptop with a previous version of Windows on it.

It is also recommended that if your computer has been infected with viruses or getting slow due to many installed applications through out the time, a clean Windows 7 install is what you need and it will get your computer back to speed again.

What are Windows 7 hardware requirements

Let’s start by getting to know the minimum hardware requirement for the editions of Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate). Check the table below:

Hardware Component Minimum System Requirement
Processor (CPU) 1-GHz or faster, 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor

1 GB RAM (32-bit)

2 GB RAM (64-bit), and to take advantage of the power of 64-bit

I will recommend you to have at least 4 GB of RAM

Graphics processor DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Hard drive

16 GB available of disk space (32-bit)

20 GB available of disk space (64-bit)

How to prepare your system to install Windows 7

For this process you’ll need the original installation copy of Windows 7 media (DVD or any other bootable drive) and the product key. To find more information about the product key and where to find it, check this Microsoft web page.

Quick Tip: If you cannot find your Windows 7 or Microsoft Office product key, use Enchanted Keyfinder free tool to find them

Applications that were released for earlier versions of Windows, for example, Windows XP and Windows Vista, they may not work properly in Windows 7, and the same applies for older hardware; some of them will require device drivers that were never updated for use in Windows 7, and the last thing you need after spending a long time on performing the installation, is to realize that there are compatibility problems, right after the first log-in or when you try to use a particular device or application.

To save time and headaches, if the computer you are about to install or upgrade Windows 7 is currently running Windows XP Service Pack 2 or higher, or any version of Windows Vista. You can download and run the free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to see if your computer is capable of running Windows 7. This tool will scan your hardware, devices, and installed programs for known compatibility issues, and it will report potential issues found and how to resolve theme, and any other recommendation before you start the process. 

To take extra precaution installing Windows 7 in an older machine, check Windows 7 Compatibility Center — a.k.a HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) — to see if your hardware and peripherals are compatible with Windows 7. 

Be prepared to avoid software compatibility problems

In the case you are upgrading your computer’s operating system, be cautious with all the applications you depend on. If some of the software currently installed was originally designed to work with a previous version of Microsoft Windows, it is not wrong for you to think that they may not work properly in Windows 7, perhaps an upgrade for those pieces of software may be required. Windows 7 will support most of Windows vista certified programs, but this is not always the case. You should at least check your everyday applications for compatibility.

There are some type of software that are likely to cause some problems when upgrading or performing a clean Windows 7 installation, some of them include:

  • Firewalls and other type of  security utilities
  • Antivirus and anti-spyware software
  • Maintenance tools, such as disk partitioning
  • Software that interact with CDs and DVDs

When upgrading consider the following: disable or uninstall any antivirus software and other utilities, if you think that they may cause problems. You can always install them back after the process.

Quick Tip: Before disabling or uninstalling any antivirus software, perform a full virus scan of your system, to know that you are working with a clean system.

It is recommended that in the case the Upgrade Advisor finds any issues regarding compatibility with Windows 7, you uninstall the programs in question before proceeding with the upgrade. 

And here we conclude the first part of the preinstallation process on how to install Windows 7, where you learned many things such as what are Windows 7 minimum system requirements, and we also looked at some compatibility issues that you may encounter and how to solve them. In part 2 we’ll talk about how to protect your data before embarking in the installation process of Windows 7.

Useful Links

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].