How to: Perform a Custom Installation of Windows

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Technical Level : Intermediate

Summary
There are multiple ways to install Windows on your PC. In this article, we take a look at the Custom Install routine, which offers multiple options during setup, these include: a clean install and partitioning your hard disk. Performing a custom install is easy whether you are using Windows 7, 8.1 or Windows 10. It offers granular options for preserving files in addition to being able to completely format the hard disk, erasing all data.

Details

This article covers performing a custom install using the following versions of Windows:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8.1

Recover files and other data from the Windows.old folder.

One of the benefits of performing a Custom Install, your Windows installation can be archived. After setup is complete, you can recover personal files and application data from the Windows.old folder. Learn more about recovering your files from Windows.old:

Recover personal files from the Windows.old Folder such as Documents Pictures and Windows Live Mail Emails in Windows 10

Learn more:

How to Activate and resolve common Product key issues in Windows 10

For this article, we will start off with the latest version of Windows, Windows 10.

Custom install Windows 10:

Once you have your Windows installation media ready, all you need to do is boot from the disc or USB thumb drive to begin setup.

See instructions: How to download official Windows 10 ISO files

Review the following guide for instructions and details about configuring your BIOS or UEFI boot settings for DVD, CD, USB or SD Card.

BIOS/UEFI Setup Guide: Boot from a CD, DVD, USB Drive or SD Card

Once your computer is set to boot from the DVD, you should see this option.

 

The Windows logo will appear on screen, this might be here for a while, as long as you see the indicater, everything should be ok.

Select your Language, Time and Keyboard method then click Next.

Click Install now

Wait while Setup starts.

Accept the license terms and click Next

Click Custom

Select the Primary Partition then click Next

You will receive the following warning:


The partition you selected might contain files from a previous Windows Installation. If it does, these files and folders will be moved to a folder named Windows.old. You will be able to access the information in Windows.old, but you will be able to use your previous version of Windows.

Click OK

Wait while Windows installs

When this phase of setup is complete, Windows will automatically restart and reboot into setup again.

Windows is detecting and installing your hardware. After this is complete, Windows will restart one last time.

Out of Box Experience

The Out of Box Experience page is where you get to configure detailed settings in Windows, which includes creating a user account, privacy, sync PC settings and install modern applications.

Windows will check if there is an active Internet connection. If it does not find one, you will be presented with the following screen.

Create a Local Account and click Next

Wait while Windows finalizes your settings

Continue to wait while Windows installs modern applications.

When setup is complete you can retrieve any personal files from the Windows.old

Browse to C:\ Local Disk and open the Windows.old folder

Custom install Windows 7:

To learn how to change your BIOS options to boot from the DVD drive, see the following tutorial:

http://notebooks.com/2011/05/05/how-to-load-bios-and-change-boot-configuration/

Once your computer is set to boot from the DVD, you should see this option.

Windows 7 is loading files

Select a language, a time, a currency, and a keyboard or another input method, and then click Next.

Click Install Now

Wait while temporary files are loaded.

Click Custom (Advanced)

When the setup menu appears, select the custom (advanced) option, select the disk partition where you would like to install Windows 7. Click Next.

You will receive the following warning:

The partition you selected might contain files from a previous Windows Installation. If it does, these files and folders will be moved to a folder named Windows.old. You will be able to access the information in Windows.old, but you will be able to use your previous version of Windows.

Click OK

Setup will now start the installation. During the installation, your machine will be restarted several times.

You can then recover your personal files from the Windows.old folder and reinstall all your applications and drivers.

http://notebooks.com/2010/11/09/how-to-recover-documents-music-and-email-after-upgrading-with-the-windows-old-folder/

Windows 8 Custom install:

To learn how to change your BIOS options to boot from the DVD drive, the following tutorial:

http://notebooks.com/2011/05/05/how-to-load-bios-and-change-boot-configuration/ 

The Windows 8 logo will appear on screen, this might be here for a while, as long as your see the indicator, everything should be ok.

You should now arrive at this screen, select your time and currency format then click Next.

Click Install Now

Wait while setup starts up

Enter your product key when prompted

Accept the End User License agreement and click Next

Click Custom install Windows only (advanced)

Select the system drive where Windows 8 is installed.

You will receive the following warning:

The partition you selected might contain files from a previous Windows Installation. If it does, these files and folders will be moved to a folder named Windows.old. You will be able to access the information in Windows.old, but you will be able to use your previous version of Windows.

(At all cost, do NOT click anything named Format or Delete or Partition. So even doing a custom install, your personal files are still preserved. Click OK

Setup will now start the installation. During the installation, your machine will be restarted several times.

When the installation is complete, you can complete the Out of Box experience such as selecting your computer, create a username, password, your time zone. You can then proceed to download the latest updates for Windows and reinstall your applications and drivers.

Windows 8 Out of Box Experience page

You can then recover your personal files from the Windows.old folder and reinstall all your applications and drivers. Or you can use Windows Easy Transfer to restore your backup.
How to retrieve your files from the Windows.old folder – Microsoft

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Last updated August 18, 2018 Views 255,647 Applies to:

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What about the Product Key WIndwos 10 asks for? It wont take the Windows 7 SP1 key

Hi and thanks for some awesome guides.

I am running w8.1 and lots and lots of software ... a clean rebuild takes a lot of time and rummaging around for licence keys / drivers etc etc.

Like most, I have been invited to upgrade to w10 and I am hearing good things.

Most common wisdom in the past has been to allow at least SP1 to come along before sticking your neck in the noose!

That said, I'd like to try 10 and run it alongside 8.1 and see how it fairs.

But I read that you have to upgrade first (presumably to authenticate the hardware?) - I'd much rather create a dual boot and keep my 8.1 install as it is for now - is this possible (using the upgrade offer)? 

Hi there.  Will doing the custom install allow me to change architecture from 32bit to 64 bit ?  

I currently have a student 32 bit version of Windows 7 installed but have upgraded my hardware and in particular the RAM so to use all the memory I need a 64 bit version.

Thanks

Your repeat of the windows.old instructions has a typo. You say "but you will be able to use your previous version of Windows", but the actual text is "won't be able".

maza nhi hy

My initial W10 upgrade was in Nov 2015 with the 32 bit version.  Since breathing new life into my laptop by upgrading several components including an additional 4gb of memory, it was time to upgrade W10 to the 64 bit version.

First, let me say, these instructions initially confused me, but eventually, I was able to create the MCT (ended up with 2 copies:  1 usb; 2 Dvd).  Running the installation media from the usb caused issues and eventually the installation file could not be found on the drive (even though they were still there).  I continued with the DVD version and got as far as the error of "locked disk drive" which I unlocked at the command prompt.  I continue the set up with the usb drive (to see if it would be recognized) and instead of using the "REPAIR" feature, I used the "INSTALL" feature.  The install completed and now I have Windows 10 64 bit version on my laptop.

Now, my dilemma is I no longer have an SRP to hold system reserved files.  

   1.  I can create the partition with the disk mgmt tool, but how large should the partition be? 

   2.  What files are required to be in this partition?

FYI I never got the error message that the partition could not be created.

Thanks in advance.

RJ

It is not possible to change architecture without installing from scratch.

See this blog article

Key phrase here is "you should see this option."  Regretfully I am NOT given the option when I boot from the install disk.

I've been looking for an answer to this error message I received but no one has been able to get back to me with a clear answer. I recently purchased a copy of Windows 7 and I've followed the process of installing it onto a hard drive partition to the letter. Multiple times. But I keep getting this error message when I try to boot the partition with Windows 7 on it:

A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source.

If you have a Windows installation disc, insert the disc and restart your computer. Click "Repair your computer," and then choose a recovery tool.

Otherwise, to start windows so you can investigate further, press the ENTER key to display the boot menu, press F8 for Advanced Boot Options, and select Last Known Good. If you understand why the digital signature cannot be verified and want to start Windows without this file, temporarily disable driver signature enforcement.

File: \$WINDOWS.~BT\Windows\system32\winload.efi

Status: 0xc0000428

Info: The digital signature for this file couldn't be verified.

If anyone has had this problem and has gotten it to work, please let me know what you did to solve it. 

If I am not seeing the spinning dots then the reinstall is not working, correct?

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