Will factory reinstall get back Windows 7

Lenovo laptop now has Windows 10. I'd like to revert back to Windows 7 by doing a factory reset. I think I remember reading that we had one month to revert back to Windows 7. What does that apply to a factory reset? Is there a way to tell what OS is in the factory reset partition?

If so, how to revert?
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phoffricAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The Keep Everything is a good option to repair Windows - I have used this numerous times.

Since you have Windows 10 running, you can do this.

Only if you have enough overall damage would you reinstall fresh and then reinstall any software.
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
Yes, factory default OS should be Windows 7.
You can simply restore system.
I would make full system backup in case of problem using AOMEI.
This will not hurt and you can always delete if after restore if you'll not going to need it.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
If it is less than 30 days, then you can use the Recovery in Windows 10 backup options.

If it is more than 30 days, the recovery partition might work.

If Windows overwrote the partition, you would need to order recovery DVD’s from Lenovo.

Do you need to go bsck? Windows 10 works very well.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
the factory reset partition will be the partition OS that was installed by the factory. In your case by Lenovo.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
1. >> make full system backup in case of problem using AOMEI.
 I didn't think to use a recovery partition so I skimmed a video on how to do that. One of the steps was to enter a Windows 10 serial number to which the response was i don't have a serial number. So how does a reinstall of windows 10 ( if you need that recovery) know what the original serial number is?

2. >> If Windows overwrote the partition
 Is there a way to determine what is in the factory recovery partition?
 If it is Windows 7 and I already did the Windows 10 recovery backup partition, then I now have two partitions for two OSs . Again , how does the serial number get set for these OEM OSs ?

3. the factory reset partition will be the partition OS that was installed by the factory. In your case by Lenovo.
 Unless windows overwrote the partition as noted in item 2.

4. Probably pushing the envelope here but if I create an extra partition one for Windows 7 and one for Windows 10, is it possible to have both OSs using the original serial number for 7, and the new one for 10 ? So, then I assume that I would have to do that to one or the other and I assume that within one partition I would not be able to transfer files directly from another partition . Is this correct?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
1. You would need the original Windows 7 Key that came with the machine. Recovery disks from Lenovo have this The recovery partition also should have it.

2. I am not sure if you can tell. If Windows 10 was activated and is running, then its license is in the Microsoft Licensing Server. It does not conflict with the Windows 7 Key.

3. Yes.

4. No, you cannot have both running. The Windows 7 key was used to upgrade. You must choose one or the other.
4a. Correct, you cannot transfer files between partitions. Your files were kept in the upgrade.

Finally, why go back?  Windows 7 has served it time and Windows 10 works.
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
Factory default should be prepared with a WIndows Key so you shouldn't put a Key, but if you don;t have a label with windows 7 key on this computer it's very possible that your laptop came with Windows 10 installed originally, so I'm not sure in this moment you going to be able recover with Windows 7,

If this laptop came with WIndows 10 then you don;t have to activate it, because your serial number embded to your motherboard serial number is registered in Microsoft so WIndows should activated automatically.

Update to Windows 10 not touching recovery partition, so you should be good.

Technically you can have multiboot with both Windows, but Windows 10 must be installed first and you need to have both keys, for Windows 7 and Windows 10.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
3. Yes.
 So if I just did a factory reset, I might not even get Windows 7!
>> Finally, why go back?  Windows 7 has served it time and Windows 10 works.
 Some old programs work better in Windows 7 from the graphics point of view . And I don't have to deal with those windows creator feature updates . And I don't have to play games like set Wi-Fi to metered in order to prevent automatic downloads and installations .
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
>> but if you don;t have a label with windows 7 key on this computer it's very possible that your laptop came with Windows 10 installed originally
 There is no label on the laptop showing a label with Windows 7 key . I should mention that the laptop started out with Windows 7 and was upgraded to Windows 10 during the free update time (which seems never to have ended by the way).
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Windows 10 Updates have smoothed out and withe very newest version (this past Friday) a number of issues have been corrected, so that is no longer a major issue,

Yes, older legacy programs work better with older operating systems,

New computers now have to come with Windows 10 so you would need to upgrade the old programs soon anyway
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
Like I said., It will not hurt you if you do this,,, If you dont;s see reason, then for practice and knowledge.

Do AOMEI BACKUPER full system backup then do restore factory default, and you'll see what you'll get, Windows 7 or Windows 10.
This will be a good lesson for you and if you will not like it, you can always recover backup.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
Edited to previous post to say
So if I just did a factory reset, I might not even get Windows 7!
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You need to back everything up in case you can't get back
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
If you doesn't have Windows 7 label on laptop then I'm not sure, since Microsoft changed the way Windows is activating with Windows 10 and stopped propagate Windows OEM labels, but maybe on the end of Windows 7 life they did too.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
>> If you doesn't have Windows 7 label on laptop then I'm not sure, since Microsoft changed the way Windows is activating with Windows 10 and stopped propagate Windows OEM labels,
I didn't understand this remark.

To clarify..
My son got this laptop about 3 years ago. And it came with with Windows 7. He upgraded to Windows 10.

>> the factory reset partition will be the partition OS that was installed by the factory. In your case by Lenovo.
From this comment I was under the impression that I would definitely get Windows 7 . But other comments appeared to take issue with it ; that in fact I might actually get Windows 10 . Is this comment correct or incorrect or all of the above.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The recovery partition should be the Lenovo factory partition but we cannot guarantee that. If you must go back To Windows 7, back up and try
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
>> You need to back everything up in case you can't get back
 Are you talking about that recovery partition? Or about creating a bunch of DVDs?
FYI, other than the OS there is no data on this laptop that needs saving.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I was talking about the recovery partition on the computer.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
Ok thanks.

Oh, another reason for Windows 7 is that you get free starter Word and Excel.
 I noticed even recently that if you have Windows 7 as of a couple weeks ago you could still upgrade to Windows 10 for free . Any idea how long this free upgrade to Windows 10 will continue . I realize that in 2020 there will no longer be security updates for Windows 7.

 You do have me thinking about staying with Windows 10 now . But I don't really want those large feature updates . But it seems like I can't stop them from coming . And maybe you're right that they have smooth things out this time around . But what about the next time ? And the next time? When I need the computer I won't have it .
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Unless you have a disability, the Windows 10 upgrade is over. And then for everyone it is over December 31.

The feature updates are now working fine. But they were coming pretty quickly. I expect V1709 (now a month old) to be good for 6 months and maybe even until next fall. So there is no reason to stay away from Windows 10 now to avoid updates.

No, you cannot stop them. With V1709 you can set the branch so that updates will not happen to your machine until most people have the updates. That is a change. And you can set automatic updates to restart overnight. My ThinkPad X230 Windows Insider machine restarted last night so there was no inconvenience or downtime.

And Microsoft has gotten religion on Windows 7 updates because of security. Another big Windows 7 update this past weekend out of band. So even Windows 7 users have to upgrade.

Generally, I see no reason any more to avoid Windows 10 except if you have old software you do not or cannot upgrade.
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
If you son got this computer with Windows 7 then Factory recovery partition contains Windows 7 system.
After full backup you can run factory default and You'll get activated Windows 7 on it.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
Ok, thanks for the Windows 10 pep talk.

 Looks like two are saying that a factory reset will give Windows 7 and one is saying it depends on whether Windows overwrote the Windows reset partition. That's two to one in favor of no overwriting. Majority wins. :)

Thanks all for your help.
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Olgierd UngehojerSenior Network AdministratorCommented:
I am not sure that you can activate your windows 7 after that.
Take a look on this article https://win10faq.com/windows-not-activated-downgrade-windows-10/
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
I am not sure what you wanted me to read in your link that confirms your concern. I found this:
"use the recovery partition to reinstall Windows 7. It will take your PC to the factory state, wiping all your data and software installed by you. This will exempt the need to use the product key to activate your Windows 7 installation."
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
@John,

I just remembered why I wanted to go with Windows 7. When my laptop broke after trying to fix Visual Studio 2015 as a result of Windows Creator (or some update) rearranging file organization and SDK requirements, and I was doing repairs, and SDK downloads and stuff, and finally got VS 2015 to  work; I noticed that my CPU was a bit higher than usual. All that disk churning caused the laptop to fail within a week.

When a friend gave me his old laptop, I chose not to go to Windows 10, and I noticed that the CPU usage was low (1-4%).

I got the impression that after all the updates for 10 was complete, my CPU usage would become higher maybe "in order to get a better user experience".

But, this laptop may be good for a few years, so now I am torn between 7 and 10 since security updates stop in 2 years for 7. This laptop is I7 so I may not notice the increased CPU load.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I am not sure about the particular laptop here. My Windows 10 machines run a <5% CPU more than 95% of the time.

So you can go back to Windows 7 on this machine or if staying with Windows 10, do a non-destructive Repair Install to clean it up.

Go to the Media Creation Link

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Windows 10 is running, so click on the Download button (not Upgrade Button, select Open (Run) but NOT Save. Allow the program to run. Allow drivers to update. Then select Keep Everything.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
>> My Windows 10 machines run a <5% CPU
If your CPU benchmark is > 8000, and my old laptop was about 1500, then my CPU usage should be about 5*4 = 20%, right?
(My new laptop has a CPU benchmark > 8000, so your results may not be so bad. It just shows that nature abhors a vacuum; that is, Microsoft abhors idle time. Maybe they are using my bandwidth to distribute their updates thereby adding more wear and tear to my laptops.)
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Any machine I had over the past decade properly installed run at under 5% CPU. It is more a matter of correct installation than speed.
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
I did 55-60 Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrades in my life and I've never seen that Windows 10 destroyed factory default image on hard drive.
I was able recover few laptops and restore it to factory default with Windows 7 after Windows 10 crashed, so I don't understand what other members talking about.

Microsoft can't do it since factory default is OEM prepared by producer version of Windows with all drivers and sometimes bunch of advertisement included.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
The free PAassist_Std wizard requires a pro upgrade in order to create a Windows 10 recovery partition. I would like to create/fill a partition with just the OS and none of the existing user data. Is there a way to do this or must I purchase a product?
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
Since both of you are recommending a Windows 10 backup, could you recommend free utilities to do a Windows 10 backup, preferably without my user data.

When I click on This PC, I see the C: drive with 807 GB free, and LENOVO (D:) drive with 22.2 GB free of 24.9 GB. (Do you think the factory recovery is in this D: drive? It just has a McAfee folder and a Drivers folder in it.)

Thanks,
Paul
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
Factory recover is on recovery hidden partition.
You not going to see it in Windows Explorer but You can see it existence in Disk Manager.

If you going to use AOMEI BACKUPER free you can backu Whole system (with all partitions) or you can backup ONLY C drive.

https://www.backup-utility.com/
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
Any way to back up just Windows 10 with free utilities. I got the Windows creator feature update with no problems this time. Would the OS backup include this update? I have a 1tb drive and I will need to add a partition and back up the os. But prefer not to back up 300gb of data in this operation. (I can travel home to get my data backup)
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The ISO that comes with in the Media Creator link contains all the free Windows 10 utilities. No need to back it up again. You have your data somewhere else anyway.
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Tom CieslikIT EngineerCommented:
If you have programs installed on your C drive in Windows then you must backup all of it.
There is no way to backup only OS without installed programs, but if you taking about files, projects, documents, pictures and music, you can simply move it to other drive like D, E .... before backup C drive. This will save you a space for backup.
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Davis McCarnOwnerCommented:
1) The factory recovery partition will use the manufacturer's unlimited license key so you don't need to worry about an activation issue.  It will; however, delete every program, printer, update, picture, document, favorite, password, etcetera in the process and, literally, make it like you just pulled the PC out of the box.  If it was pre-SP1, you had better be ready to download and install that as soon as it has booted up or you won't get any updates.
2) As soon as a Windows 10 PC connects to the internet, it retrieves its license from a Microsoft server and you can reinstall Windows 10 a thousand times on that PC without needing a key.
3)  If you use the media creation tool, it will automatically download the LATEST release of Windows 10 and not leave you stuck with the endless loops of updates:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
>> The ISO that comes with in the Media Creator link contains all the free Windows 10 utilities.
 I am not familiar with the media creator link so tomorrow I will try to read out about it .

@Davis, for your information the recovery factory partition has Windows 7. And previous comments indicate that if I do a factory restore then the free Windows 10 update is no longer available . That is why they are recommending that I backup Windows 10 so that I have a choice especially when Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7 . Also John is making strong arguments for me to keep Windows 10 . Another reason they make for me to back up Windows 10 OS .


 Heading out now for the evening . Will try to continue with this tomorrow . Sounds like media creation tool is useful but at the moment I am not clear about what gets destroyed - data, installed programs, settings, etc. Nor do I understand how to use it. First time I've heard of it.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You can do a non-destructive Repair Install with the Media Creation Link - Keep Everything.  

You can also do a fresh install with it - Keep Nothing.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
I'll try to make a partition and put the data there. I don't know whether I can move the installed programs there as well since that affects the registry. I think you're telling me that if I back up the c drive in a separate partition, then all I have to do to recover the os and the programs is to copy the backup partition into the c drive and reboot.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I would make backups on a USB Hard Drive to avoid moving data and programs between partitions.
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
TL;DR

if the Win7 partition .wim is intact you can offload it to removable storage using GImageX
you can then use that as installation media to return a Windows 7 "out of the box" installation pre-activated for Lenovo.

Win 10 activation is based on the digital licence from the upgrade, so unless you change the hardware or Microsoft change their rules you'll be able to reinstall 10 at any time without affecting the activation state.
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Davis McCarnOwnerCommented:
The free Windows 10 upgrade is not available anymore; but, because you had already installed 10, you have a license so that is not a worry.  You can reinstall Windows 10 from the media creation tool and it will activate using the license you already have.
In reality, there is no good option but to reinstall any software you need after you have installed the operating system.  Files are created in numerous different folders and the instructions for how to run the program(s) are added to the registry.  There are a few, generally very old, programs that can be copied to a new installation; though, that is a real rarity, these days.  I always SAVE important software downloads and religiously keep the emails containing purchases or license keys so I can reinstall should I need to.
As a note, since the era of Windows 7, factory images are .WIM files which are images of the drive's contents (files and folders).  ANY approach which restores a WIM file instantly makes all of your existing stuff disappear.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
>> You can do a non-destructive Repair Install with the Media Creation Link - Keep Everything.  
>> In reality, there is no good option but to reinstall any software you need after you have installed the operating system.

I am confused by these two comments. I thought Keep Everything meant that I would get the latest Windows 10 OS and I would keep my installed programs and data.
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phoffricAuthor Commented:
From your comments, I have a bit more confidence as to how to maintain my system. After all this discussion, because of John's comments, I will stick with Windows 10. But nice to know that if I have trouble and go back to Windows 7, then because I already have the Windows 10 license, that I can get that also get that back because MS keeps licensing info on its server.

Thanks for your explanations.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thank you for the update and good luck with Windows 10. I have it running well here.
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