How to install Windows 7 – What to do before start [Part 2]

Installing Windows 7

How to install Windows 7 — What to do before start: Backup files and settings. In part 1 we looked at hardware system requirements of Windows 7, possible issues and solutions, now in part 2 is the time to protect your data before starting anything.

This goes for everything, dual-boot, reinstall, upgrade or clean install. You should always backup no matter what! But… If you are installing Windows 7 in a brand new hard drive or you are NOT interested on the data residing in your computer’s hard drive, you can skip the following tasks:

  • Full backup: Creating a whole computer backup is one of the best ways to protect everything stored in your computer (operating system, programs, and your data), in case something goes wrong during the installation process or if you just want to rollback to your previous operating system — here is a great guide on how to create a system restore image in Windows 7.

Warning: Be aware that if you are currently running Windows XP and you use the backup utility built-in to save your documents and settings to a network shared or an external media storage (e.g., DVDs, USB thumb drives, etc), the Windows 7 backup utility will NOT be able to open and restore the backup file format from previous versions, because the software work in a different way. Microsoft released an application to deal with this problem short after Windows Vista was launched, but this is not compatible with Windows 7.

  • Documents and settings backup: If backing up the whole computer is a lot to handle, Windows Easy Transfer is another tool you can use to backup and transfer all your Windows user accounts, documents, music, pictures, email, Internet favorites, and programs settings, fast and easy — keep in mind that this tool will not backup the operating system –. If you don’t want to use Windows Easy Transfer or it is not available, you should at least backup all your files (Documents, Music, Photos, Videos, etc.) manually. You can easily do this by plunging in an external storage media (e.g., USB hard drive) in your computer and transfer your important files.
  • Bookmarks: Backup your web browser’s favorites and don’t forget to write down any important password that you may need to access an online service or web application. If you are using Google Chrome you could use Xmarks extension to backup your bookmarks and passwords, and if you are using Firefox you could use the Firefox Sync, a free Cloud service to sync your bookmarks and settings including passwords. Additionally you can easily backup all your bookmarks, check out how to do this for Google Chrome and Firefox.
  • Drivers: Check online and download the latest device drivers that are compatible with Windows 7 (e.g., wired or wireless network adapter, video drivers, hard drive controller, etc.), or at least get the ones for Windows Vista — most Vista drivers are going to work in Windows 7, but it isn’t always the case, so be careful –. Here is some extra help, use Double Drivers, which is a free tool that can help you to backup the drivers that are already working in your system.
Tip: Another thing you can do is to backup your computer’s drivers, or at least make sure that you have a compatible wired or wireless network adapter drivers, this way if during the installation Windows cannot recognize all the computer components, including the network adapter, you will still be able to install the wired or wireless network adapter, connect to the internet and find the rest of the drivers needed. 
  • Inventory: Create a list of the installed applications in Windows, that way after you install Windows 7 you’ll know what applications you need to install back.
  • Product keys: Make sure that you have all the product keys and installation files for any application you may want to install later.
  • Network connectivity: Write down your computer name, if your computer is currently connected to a network, you might need the computer name after installing Windows 7. To do this, go to Start, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, you can locate your computer name and its full name, if your computer is connected in a domain.

Here is something to keep in mind. A full backup will be really useful for almost anything wrong that could happen to your computer. If you are about to install Windows 7 you should create a full backup, but you should also backup documents and settings, Bookmarks, and drivers. These other type of backups will make easier to transfer data from the old Windows installation to the new of Windows 7 installation. 

Always remember that there is not such a thing as too much backup, the time spent protecting your data will always pay off.

So far, with part 1 and in this part 2, you’ve learned what hardware is needed to install Windows 7, how to avoid possible problems during the installation process, and how to protect your data. In part 3, we’ll go through a series of questions and answers on important decisions you need to make to save time and avoid additional issues.

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 15 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 21 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].