Reinstall Vista from Sony hidden folder and re-activation

Hi experts,

I have a Vaio laptop with Vista Business on, it came preinstalled. The laptop is really slow these days and has had a lot of things installed and uninstalled. I found that Sony put a folder here:
and I believe this probably contains the files to install Vista again when problems occur.

What I want to do:
1. Create a 25gb partition from my C:\ for Windows and program files
2. Boot up and install from this hidden folder
3. Then after install, if it feels like it's running much quicker, I'll copy over files from the original partition and format that partition to use it for storage space.
4. Re-activate windows

- How do I do all this?
- When I right click on C:\ in disk management, I cannot see a way of making a new partition
- Do I have to deactivate Vista on my main version before installing the next version?
- How do I reactivate?
- I have the serial on the genuine windows sticker underneath the laptop

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Hey Tobzzz,

The folder that you are describing is the Windows Anytime Upgrade Folder. This is for upgrading a lower version of Windows Vista (ie. Home Premium) to a higher version (ie. Ultimate) by purchasing a license key online. (The few times that I have tried this, it did not go nearly as smoothly as it sounds). This folder is not for re-installing windows.

Here is what I would do.

#1. Go to Sony SIte and download drivers for your Laptop / Model. (Network drivers are critical
#2. Backup your data and driver(s)
#3. Go and download EASEUS Partition Master from (go to site and search for partition)
#4. Install software, either resize partition with software or create bootable CD for said purpose

* Note: If you only have one partition, you will have to shrink it first so that there is room to create a second partition. This will likely have to be 2 separate operations. Also, I would create a partition larger than 25GB.

#5. Use any Vista oem DVD in conjunction with your product key from the bottom of the laptop to install. Note* You can use a 64-Bit Disc even if your product key is 32-Bit
#6. After Windows, install network driver if necessary
#7. Run Windows Update
#8. Restart & then rerun step#7 until steps are done.
#9. Download and install Adobe Reader/ Flash etc. from
#10. Activate Windows. (WIll likely require a phone call but have not had any problems with reactivating... advise pressing 55555555 etc. until you get a live rep. though.

This will give you a far cleaner install. It will not however give you Trial or "Special" software.

Alternatively, you  an download and run ccleaner. disable system restore, restart, re-enable system restore. This will likely give you some improvement with things as they are.

Just to clarify Step#5. I am not referring to a system restore CD/DVD. That will not work.
Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:
DO NOT wipe out and format your HDD now.

Use ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) to backup your activation file first.
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On many Sony models, holding alt + F10 at boot will start the factory restore process

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tobzzzAuthor Commented:
Hi again,

I found a hidden partition of 9GB which has a restore install on BUT I noticed an article and MJCS comment about using any Vista DVD. Well I have Ultimate OEM on DVD so I guess I can use that on a new partition and when I enter the serial from my machine I guess it will just know to set up as Vista Business - is that correct?

My main worry is activation. Do I have to de-activate my current copy? How do I re-activate the new install? Bear in mind, I bought the notebook in the UK and I'm living in Spain now, so calling up to do it would be a nightmare I think... Any easy solutions?

Thanks again!
tobzzzAuthor Commented:
also... I have 38GB free on the C:\ drive but when I go to shrink it will only give me just over 8GB unallocated space, which is not enough for me to make that a new partition. How do I make a 25gb partition with the free space I have?

Thanks!! :-)
Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:
Yes. Your worry is right.

You have an Vista Utimate CD but your activation and CD key is for Vista Business.

So, it is very likely that you cannot get pass the activation via phone activation.

Besides, your HDD is really small. 25GB for Vista is insufficent.

If I were you, I will try the following:-

1. Get a cloning boot cd (I like acronis) to clone your existing Vista OS to a USB external HDD. Just in case if there is any failure in the process, you still have a working image of your OS to recover from.

2. Use Utimate Boot CD to access the .wim file inside your 9GB hidden partition and extract it to a USB external HDD.

3. Use Windows PE CD with imagex tool to restore the .wim file to the existing partition of the OS. After the restore process, your SONY VAIO computer will restore to factory status (i.e. the time you used it for the first time)

If you think that the above will be suitable, we can give you details on how to do the process.

Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:

You can try the comment of nobus to do a factory recovery.
Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:
The comment of MJCS is totally different from nobus' advice. Factory recovery is NOT an upgrade (Windows Anytime Upgrade) -> Just to restore your OS to the factory status and you will not have any activation issue.

The only downside is that you need to install all applications again and there is a risk of data loss if you have not properly backup your data.
tobzzzAuthor Commented:
Hmmmm, never easy is it...

I think my best cause of action then is to:
1. backup all files (only one user and all within my docs so straightforward).
2. press F10 or ALT+F10 at start-up and just do the factory reset.
3. install all applications I need and Service Pack 2.

At least then I won't have any activation issues (are you sure of this?) and i'll have a fresh install so hopefully everything will be quicker.

I'll see how I get on over the weekend with it and apply points after that. Thanks all.
I have done my system many times with both Windows Vista and Windows 7 for clients. Sometimes I even do it on brand-new systems so that we are clean. The activation is a minor hassle but I have never been unable to activate.

With Vista you can use a Vista Ultimate to install Ultimate, Home Premium, or Business. I have done so many times.

Windows 7 does not seem to allow this however.

My process is a bit more work but you end up much cleaner than a system restore.
Just to clarify. Jackman is incorrect in his assumption that you will have activation problems if you use Vista Ultimate to Install Vista Business. As part of a manual Vista Install, you are prompted for your correct version/edition. You will be able to install using your product key, you will be able to activate.
Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:
It is my worry for activation only and unless you are pretty confident on phone activation process with the MS guy. MS guys will not help if you cannot activation as you use oem media and they will ask you to contact the oem vendor for help. The oem vendor will help provided that they can get $$$ from you.


Follow the guide below.

The rule of using oem vista ultimate DVD is that you do not input any cd key when you are asked for the first time -> the system will then ask you which version you want to install and you input back the key after install and restore the abr activation backup file to skip activation.

what size is your drive?   if too small - put in a bigger one, and clone the old one to it
The Phone Activation Agent's do not ask what kind of media you've used for installation. I've never had to call an oem for help with this.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
>>Well I have Ultimate OEM on DVD so I guess I can use that on a new partition
Take care with the install from this, although retail DVDs for Vista contain all the versions and languages (and the installed verison is based upon the Key you enter) most OEM DVD's are locked down to a single language and install version - this is effectively a crippling of the full version by altering some files on the DVD.  You may find that the DVD you have will only set-up Ultimate which you don't have a valid key for.
tobzzzAuthor Commented:
HI All,

Thank you all for taking time to answer.

I backed up all personal files, rebooted pressing F10 on the splash screen and did a full system restore which restores to factory settings wiping C:\ completely, not just repairs. It took a LONG time but it's definitely running much quicker so the task was successful. The restore files are kept on a hidden partition of the C:\ drive for the Vaio.

Thanks again
Jackie ManIT ManagerCommented:
Glad to know that you have solved the problem solved. Cheers!

For branded machine, it is better to restore from the hidden recovery partition or recovery dvd. Do an upgrade or install from the OS setup DVD is the last resort.
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