Can a Retail Copy of W7 be Used to Repair an OEM Installation?


I have an Acer desktop that had W7 pre-installed. Something in the OS is corrupted. My Acer has a System Restore disk - but I am 99% sure using it will effectively wipe my drive of all apps and data. The data is not an issue - I am backed up. I would prefer not starting from scratch.

I have read that there are ways to repair a W7 installation if you have a retail disk. I am considering buying an extra copy to use as a repair tool. If I buy a student version (cost around $70) can I use this as a repair tool for multiple W7 PCs that have home professional installed? All PCs have valid licenses - I just want to use the student copy as a repair tool.

Or, will Windows see that the serial numbers don't match and reject the repair? Also, will this method save my PC config?

Thanks so much! I have been banging my head on the wall for several days on this and really need to get it fixed.


PS.  I have tried System Restore as well as Startup Repair - the problem remains.  I took the PC into Frys (where I bought it) and they ran a complete h/w diagnostics - everything passed.  They say something in Windows became corrupted.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPConnect With a Mentor OwnerCommented:
Also, will this method save my PC config?

You have to start the installation from the working operating system or your apps / settings will not be migrated.  So in the can't boot at all situation you're out of luck. In that situation a restore using the manufacturers restore partition is the fastest and easiest method to use. (it will have all of the drivers and you won't have to go to a friends or an isp cafe on the off chance that the  network adapter driver didn't install)
Darius GhassemConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Go to Run command type sfc /scannow this will check you system files
Darr247Connect With a Mentor Commented:
If you buy an OEM instead of the Retail version, it should work... the stores that sell OEM versions are supposed to sell you either a hard drive or a motherboard at the same time, though.

I don't know of any "home professional" version, by the way. You should probably find out what you have for sure before you buy a DVD.
32 bit versus 64 bit matters, too.
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MrChip2Author Commented:

thanks for the suggestion - the problem is that I cannot get the PC to boot up - even in safe mode.  is there some way to boot it up from a dvd that would give me a command prompt and access to that command?
MrChip2Author Commented:
Darr247 - you are correct - I am running Windows 7 Professional 64 bit.  Does this mean I must have an OEM version of that OS to fix it?
Run5kConnect With a Mentor Commented:
No,  you don't need an OEM disc to run a repair install of Windows 7.  You can utilize a retail disc with your OEM license key, as confirmed in this discussion on the Microsoft message boards:

Can I use Windows 7 OEM Key with a non-OEM disc?

That being said, if you already have a valid license key for Windows 7 you can legally download a free ISO image from Microsoft's retail partner, Digital River.  Burn it to a blank DVD and your "repair OS disc" is ready to go.  The one for Windows 7 Professional x64 can be found here:

Windows 7 Professional with SP1 64-bit ISO Image

Last but not least, here is an excellent tutorial for performing the Windows 7 repair install:

How to Do a Repair Install to Fix Windows 7
Nobody said a retail disk wouldn't work, it's just that OEM versions are usually cheaper than the retail version (the difference for Win7 Pro on newegg is about $110 between OEM and Retail), and I've never found the level of support from microsoft to differ between OEM and Retail.
MrChip2Author Commented:
Thanks for the suggestions - after multiple failed attempts I ended up using the Acer Recovery DVDs I created when I set up the system.  The good news is that it backed up all my user data to a folder that I could access.  It also seemed to have kept some of my third party applications.  However, I basically started with a "clean" version of W7 that had to have about 130 different patches downloaded and installed.  Now I am adding back most of my third party apps.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Start using windows backup and save an image. Saved my bacon many a time
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