One of the best ways to give a computer a new lease on life is performing a complete reinstallation of its operating system, like Windows 7. This is usually done with a recovery disc that contains important system installation files that do the work for you. You pop in the disc and follow the on-screen instructions. Easy, right?
Unfortunately, you lost the recovery CD, misplaced it or just plain don’t have it. Don’t you worry, because you can still install Windows 7 without a CD.
How to Install Windows 7 Without a CD
In order for this method to work, you’re going to be creating your very own Windows 7 recovery disc in the form of a USB flash drive. All you need is a valid Windows 7 product key, which you probably already have, to make it happen. And of course, this process is going to completely eliminate every personal file on your computer so now’s the time to backup important files to an external hard drive, SSD, or cloud service.
When you’ve got files backed up and a USB flash drive ready, you can get started:
1. First, you need your Windows 7 product key. Don’t know where it is? No problem! Check for a sticker on your computer, usually on one of the sides of the tower or under the laptop. It’s a 25-digit code that is necessary. Write it down.
2. Now go to Microsoft’s software page and download Windows 7 ISO. In order to do so, you need to provide a valid Windows 7 product key. Microsoft will provide a 64-bit and 32-bit version. Choose the one based on your operating system.
Note: Not sure what bit you have? Open the Windows Start menu and type computer ‘About.’ You can see if your PC is 64-bit or 32-bit next to ‘System Type.’
3. Once the Windows 7 ISO file is downloaded, plug the USB flash drive into an open USB port.
4. Open File Explorer. In the left-hand column, click This PC. Double-click on the USB flash drive listed under ‘Devices and drives.’ This will reveal its contents.
5. Drag and drop the Windows 7 ISO file into the USB flash drive’s folder. You can close File Explorer now.
6. Open the Windows Start menu, click the small arrow near the bottom and choose Restart. In order to install Windows 7, you need to access the BIOS.
7. As it’s booting up, press F2, Delete or ESC to access the BIOS.
8. In your BIOS, you’ll see a few tabs along the top. The one you want to pick is Boot or Boot Options or Boot Order. This presents you with a few options. Choose Removable Devices, provided your USB flash drive is still connected.
Note: Sometimes Boot Options is hidden under Advanced Options.
9. Since the Windows 7 installation file has now been recognized, you can choose Save & Exit at the top. When prompted to save configuration and exit, pick Yes.
10. If all was successful, you will see ‘Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.’ Press any key to start the cleansing.
11. First up is accepting the WIndows licensing terms. Just click the little box in the bottom-left corner, I accept the license terms, provided you’ve read through them and indeed agree. Then click Next.
12. Now is time for the purging of your hard drive. Delete the hard drive partition that contains WIndows 7. This will be followed up with a warning, asking if you truly want to delete the partition. You will pick OK. Then click Next.
13. When the process is complete, pick the hard drive that will serve as your new partition, then click Next.
14. Grab a cup of coffee or run some errands because it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
Note: Don’t be alarmed if your computer shuts down periodically. That’s normal. The installation process is still in effect.
And there you have it! What comes after is nothing more than you creating a username and password for a freshly installed version of Windows 7. It’s advantageous you take the time to uninstall any shovelware that may have come with the version of Windows 7 you downloaded from Microsoft. It’s notorious for bogging down operating systems.