Restoring to Windows 7 on a Windows 10 machine

mlcktmguy
mlcktmguy used Ask the Experts™
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I have a used laptop that was originally Windows 7 when I purchased it but one of my kids upgraded it to Windows 10 during the free upgrade period.

I want to do some testing on a developed application on a Win 7 machine am I'm trying to get this machine back to Win 7.

I tried all of the available 'reset' operating system options that I can find but they all 'reset' to Win 10.  I even tried the 'reset' that completely clears the machine and reloads WIn 10.

Is there any way to get back to the original delivered from the factory  configuration of the machine, including Win7?

I know I've been talked thru completely resetting a computer to its delivered configuration but that always on a machine with the same operating system as delivered.

I do not have any configuration or installations disks for the laptop.
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Team Lead RRS Desk
Top Expert 2016
Commented:
What model is it? Some laptops have a recovery partition. If you lost that you may be able to get the CD's from the manufacturer for a small fee.
RaminTechnical Advisor

Commented:
yes you can, just tell us the model/make of the laptop.
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer

Commented:
Well .... first thing I'd do is go get the Windows 7 distribution CDs that came with PCs from your system's manufacturer, because you will need them to reinstall W7.  This will be tricky because Microsoft put conditions in the contract for Windows 8 to all PC manufacturers requiring them to drop all support for Windows 7.   So the CDs won't be available, but you might be able to find ISO images of the CDs somewhere.

If you can find the ISO images, then check for the COA sticker on the system.  This has the 25-character license key needed to activate W7.  No sticker, or unreadable key, means no W7 reinstall.

If you get this far, then you can download a copy of Darik's Boot and Nuke CD as an ISO image, burn the CD, boot from the CD and completely erase the hard drive.

Then you can burn an ISO image of the W7 CD, boot it, and reinstall W7.

After that comes the long and boring process of installing 15 years of software updates.

After that you can start reinstalling all the necessary add-ons such as Firefox, Acrobat, antivirus ...

Figure three or four days, at six hours a day.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
At this point, having reinstalled Windows 10 and more than 30 days passed, the Windows.old for Windows 7 will be gone.

You need to backup, format and install Windows 7 fresh.
Scott CSenior Engineer

Commented:
So you don't have to wipe the machine, you could always spin up a VM on your desktop.

VMWorkstation should work nicely.  How much memory do you have in your laptop?

Author

Commented:
It's a Dell laptop but I can't find a model number on it.  I purchased at least 3 years ago when my son went to college and cannot find the original invoice to check the specs.
Scott CSenior Engineer

Commented:
Here are the steps to restore your Dell computer running Windows 7 to factory default.

http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/how-to-restore-your-windows-7-computer-to-factory-settings/4/SLN291879/en?lang=EN
RaminTechnical Advisor

Commented:
follow this link to restore windows 7
http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/4/SLN291879/en
Edward PamiasTeam Lead RRS Desk
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
if you reboot you may have a recover partition, reboot laptop, hit F8 and go to Advanced Boot Options, from there you should be able to repair or restore.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
I have VMware Workstation on my Windows 10 machine and a Windows 7 machine and that works well. But that means keeping Windows 10 which I thought the author did not want.
Scott CSenior Engineer

Commented:
He wants to do some testing on a Windows 7 machine.  I just offered the VM solution as an option rather then rebuild from scratch.

I posted the Dell article on doing a factory reset.

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all of the quick responses.  If this is 3 - 4 days at 6 hours a day I'll just purchase a Win 7 machine.  I was trying to avoid that.

I did find the model number on the back.  It's an Inspiron 15R-5521.  It has a windows 7 graphic sticker on it right next to the Inter Core i5 sticker.  6 GB of memory.
I also see the Dell service tag of the machine but no Windows 7 serial number.
RaminTechnical Advisor

Commented:
Okay, just follow this link and let us know if you had any question,
 http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/4/SLN291879/en
Scott CSenior Engineer

Commented:
No, it won't be 3-4 days for 6 hrs. each day.

And it's not 15 years of updates.

I recently set a machine back to factory default and it was done in one evening after work.

Just go through the steps in the link I posted and you'll be fine.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
First, purchasing a machine today (except via eBay) will probably mean you have to purchase Windows 10.

Second, if the Windows 10 machine you have is decent, then as Scott suggests and I agree, VMware Workstation will be a cheaper approach.
RaminTechnical Advisor

Commented:
it takes only less than one hour to install Windows 7, and some hours (day)  to install updates.

Author

Commented:
F8 does nothing on the reboot but I noticed F12 brought up advanced.  I did not see any of the options mentioned in the link posted.
Edward PamiasTeam Lead RRS Desk
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
Restart the system. At the system logo screen immediately press and hold 'SHIFT' and tap the 'F8' key to enter'Recovery' and select 'See advanced repair option'.
-At 'Choose an option' click 'Troubleshoot'.
-At 'Troubleshoot' click 'Advanced options'.
-Right at 'Advanced Options' screen left-click 'Windows Startup Settings'.
-Now, at 'Windows Startup Setting' click 'Restart' and allow your system to finish with the process. It will do the repair without making any changes to your important folders.
RaminTechnical Advisor

Commented:
yes it's normal,  just follow this link from dell:
http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/software-os/f/3524/t/19494817

Author

Commented:
Thanks again for all the responses and advice.  F8 and Shift-F8 while rebooting do nothing on this Win 10 machine.  F12 does bring up the boot options but there is no restore.  There is no restore partition.

I will be contacting Dell but have not had the time yet.  Working thru there tech support always seems to take quite some time.
Edward PamiasTeam Lead RRS Desk
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
So it looks like you never had a recovery partition or it was deleted during the upgrade. On my laptop which came with Windows 7, it still has the recovery partition even after I upgraded to Windows 10. You may want to see if you can order the recovery media for you machine from dell or even a third party.

Author

Commented:
Ended up0 having to get the CD's from Dell.

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