Vista Clean Install Guide
Clean Install Vista with "Auto-Activation" NO NEED TO CALL MICROSOFT FOR ACTIVATION and with out spending any money.
This is how you can do a clean install while avoiding all thirdparty software and "bloatware". I even consider the Thinkvantage utilities to be thirdparty. Really any application/utility that isn't part of the OS (Windows XP or Vista) is considered "thirdparty". Considering there have been quite a few problems with the new T61's it is reasonable to at least suspect that there could be an issue with one or more of the Thinkvantage utilities on this new T61 (Santa Rosa) platform. Many people have been complaining about system freezes/lock-ups and BSODs (Blue Screen of Death). These problems are often resolved with a clean install.
This guide will show you how to do a clean install on your current hard drive or a newly installed hard drive using either the 32-bit Vista or 64-bit "Anytime Upgrade" DVD or other Vista installation disk. Unfortunately, the Anytime Upgrade Disk is no longer available from Microsoft. Please read the FAQ for more information about what disks you can use.
NOTE: You can choose to have 32-bit Vista or 64-bit Vista regardless of what version you currently have installed!!!!
At first glance this guide might appear complicated. It is not! It is just very detailed. It consists of four basic steps.
STEP 1: Back-up your data.
STEP 2: Download the drivers.
STEP 3: Install and activate Vista.
STEP 4: Install the drivers.
I could just leave it at that. Doesn't that look simple? If that is all you need then look no further. For most people, this would leave a lot of unanswered questions. Read on and the guide will expand on those four steps. As you follow along I think you will find that this guide will greatly reduce any unexpected surprises during the install process.
DO NOT PROCEED UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS GUIDE FOR MORE INFORMATION
!!!BACK-UP ALL OF YOUR DATA!!!
Make Recovery Disks: Open the start menu and in the search box, type "Recovery Media" (without the quotes). Then click Recovery Media from the window. *Be warned, you can only make ONE copy of the recovery media. If you mess up, you'll have to reinstall from the partition again in order to be able to make another recovery disk.* Make sure you have 3 recordable dvd disks available (or 1 CD and 2 DVDs. The first disk can be a CD). It takes 2 to 3 blank disks total. Then just follow the instructions and you'll be all set.
Back-up this file... c:\swtools\drivers ...and place it on a USB drive or a separate disk.
Back-up the Lenovo Wallpapers (optional). Found here: c:\windows\web\wallpaper
NOTE: You will not use any of the back-up disks or files from step 1 to do this clean install. They are only used if you ever want to restore any optional files or revert back to the original factory state.
!!!DO NOT PROCEED UNTIL ALL OF YOUR DATA IS BACKED-UP!!!
REMOVE THE "HIDDEN PARTITION" (OPTIONAL): Please read the frequently asked questions at the bottom of the guide to learn how to remove the hidden partition. It is best to remove the hidden partition now to avoid a lot of hassle trying to remove it after the clean install.
NOTE: This step involves DOWNLOADING drivers. When you get to step 4 you will come back to this step to INSTALL the drivers in the order listed below.
Download all drivers (listed below) to a USB drive. MAKE SURE YOU DOWNLOAD THE CORRECT VISTA 32-BIT OR 64-BIT DRIVERS FOR YOUR MODEL.
Download all other drivers listed below direct from: Lenovo Downloads & Drivers or Driver Matrix Page
(NOTE: Most of these Drivers are available in EITHER 32-bit or 64-bit. Make sure to download the correct driver.)
Intel Chipset Driver/INF Update Utility INSTALL FIRST!!!
Turbo Memory Driver (NOTE: Only install this driver on systems with Turbo Memory. This driver will also install the Matrix Storage Manger Driver.)
Matrix Storage Manager Driver (NOTE: Only install this driver on systems without Turbo Memory. Do not download/install this driver if you have installed the Turbo Memory driver.)
ACPI Power "Management Driver" NOTE: The ACPI Power "Management Driver" and the Power "Manager" are two different things. The "Driver" is all that is necessary. The Power "Manager" is a ThinkVantage utility and is not necessary. (NOTE: If ThinkVantage Power Manager is installed it can only be removed properly in "safe mode". As for the ACPI Power "Management Driver", uninstallation should never be attempted.)
Video Driver- Make sure to select the correct driver for integrated graphics (Intel 965/ Intel GMA X3100) or nVidia graphics (nVidia 140M or 570M) depending on what your laptop has for graphics.
Integrated Card Reader (for models with integrated card reader)
Intel PRO/1000 LAN adapter
Download all registry patches found at the bottom of the Driver Matrix Page that apply to Vista.
Download these if your system has these options:
(NOTE: These three drivers are the same for every version of Vista including 32-bit or 64-bit.)
CLICK HERE Wireless USB Software
CLICK HERE Bluetooth Driver Bluetooth Driver Install Tips: Before installing the Driver, press Fn and F5 at the same time. You should see an on-screen display that allows you to turn "on" Bluetooth. Now install the driver. If Fn + F5 does not work to turn on bluetooth then install ThinkVantage Access Connections. After Access Connections has been installed you should be able to turn "on" Bluetooth and install the Bluetooth driver. After the bluetooth driver is installed, you can uninstall ThinkVantage Access Connections from the control panel.
CLICK HERE Finger Print Reader (This is the SOFTWARE/UTILITY and old driver.)
CLICK HERE Finger Print Reader (This is the latest DRIVER direct from UPEK. It is compatible with Vista SP1. It must be installed over the old Lenovo driver before Windows Update will allow SP1 to be installed.)
1. Download Orev's Activation Backup and Restore (ABR) program. CLICK HERE: Orev's ABR Utility
(Read the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom to learn about Orev's ABR Utility.)
2. Double Click the ABR file. THEN copy the ABR folder to your USB flash drive or external drive. DO NOT COPY THE ABR FOLDER TO A CD OR DVD. IT WILL NOT WORK!!!
3. Double Click "activation_backup.exe". If all goes OK you will see two new files in the ABR folder.
backup-cert.xrm-ms (This is the backed-up activation certification file)
backup-key.txt: (This is the backed-up product key. Double click the .txt file to open. Make sure you have a key code of five sets of random numbers and letters. Write down the key code just in case it is needed for future use. Close the file. DO NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES TO THIS FILE.)
!!!DO NOT PROCEED UNTIL YOU HAVE CHECKED TO MAKE SURE THESE TWO FILES ARE IN THE ABR FOLDER ON A USB DRIVE!!!
4. Insert the Vista Anytime Upgrade DVD and shut down/turn off the computer.
(NOTE: If you are upgrading to a new hard drive, install the new hard drive now.)
5. Turn on the computer. Follow the prompt and "press any key" to boot to the install disk.
TIP: Just keep tapping the space bar about once a second after you push the power button until it boots to the DVD drive. If this doesn't work you need to power back down -> power up -> press F1 to enter the BIOS -> change the boot setting so the DVD drive is first -> then press F12 to save and exit.
6. Choose your language, Time/Currency, and country. Click Next.
7. Click on Install Now
8. The next screen is for your Vista key. DO NOT enter anything in this box. Be sure to UNCHECK the activate box. Click Next. The installation program won't believe you, so it will ask you again if you want to enter your key. Choose NO.
9. You will be asked which version of Vista you have purchased. Highlight the version that came with your computer. Check the box that says "I have selected the edition of Windows that I purchased". Click Next. If you do not pick the version you paid for, it won't work!
10. Accept Microsoft's license terms. Click Next.
11. Choose Custom (Advanced) Installation.
12. Your internal/primary hard drive is called "Disk 0" this is where you want to install Vista. Highlight Disk 0 and click "Drive options (advanced)"
You will most likely see Disk 0 Partition 1 and Disk 0 Partition 2. The larger partition is where Vista is installed. The smaller partition is the "hidden partition".
To remove the hidden partition select the smaller partition and click "delete". This step can be skipped if you wish to keep the hidden partition. (I chose to remove it because it takes up space)
Select the larger partition and click "Delete".
Select "New" and select the largest size possible.
Select "Format" then Click "Next".
(NOTE: This is the most confusion part of the clean install process. Basically, if you do not want the hidden partition, you will delete ALL partitions and create one "New" partition of the largest size possible. Then "format" the new partition. If you want to keep the hidden partition, you will not delete the smaller partition.)
13. The installation program will now begin copying files
14. The installation program will reboot the computer. You can remove the DVD from the drive now.
15. Choose a username and password.
16. Choose a computer name and desktop background.
17. Choose an automatic updates option.
18. Choose a time zone, set date and time.
19. The gears of Vista will whirl for a few moments and Vista will start! Go to Control Panel>System and Maintenance>System. You will see that Vista is NOT activated. Close this window.
20. Insert your USB flash drive and navigate to activation_restore.exe. Double click the file to start.
21. A cmd window will open and you will see it doing it's thing. It should say "Successful". Close the cmd window.
22. Go to Control Panel>System and Maintenance>System again. Notice the difference?
Install ALL drivers IN THE EXACT ORDER LISTED ABOVE. REBOOT after every driver installation even if it is not required. THE CHIPSET DRIVER MUST BE INSTALLED FIRST.
DRIVER INSTALLATION TIP: Many of the drivers (especially the drivers from Lenovo) do not actually install when you double click on them. Often times they are only extracted to the hard drive. It is then necessary to locate the extracted file on the hard drive and install it from there. Please read the "read me" file associated with each driver for installation instructions on each of the drivers.
~DO NOT INSTALL ANY THINKVANTAGE UTILITIES UNTIL YOU READ THE F.A.Q. REGARDING THINKVANTAGE BELOW~
Congratulations!!! Your clean install is finished!!! But let's run the Windows Experience Index before we quit.
Open Control Panel>System and Maintenance>System again. Click on Windows Experience Index half way down the window.
This will open the Windows Experience Index window. Click "Update My Score". Vista uses this score to determine if it will be able to handle the Aero interface.
BUG FIX!!! There have been reports of instability issues from having "Hybrid Hard Disk Power Savings Mode" enabled under the power management options. To disable Hybrid Hard Disk go into power management by clicking on the icon on the right side of the task bar. Click "More Power Options" then click "Change Plan Settings" under your selected power plan. Double click "Hard Disk", then Double Click "Windows Hybrid Hard Disk Power Savings Mode". Set both options to "DISABLED". Now click "APPLY" then click "OK".
There you have it! A fresh, clean Vista installation with NO extra crap. Guaranteed to make for a faster and more enjoyable computing experience!
If at any time you make a mistake you can use the recovery disk(s) or your manufacturers recovery method to restore your computer.
Good Luck and Enjoy!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What disks can I use to do a clean install? You can use a retail, oem, or anytime upgrade disk. If using a retail or OEM disk, it does not matter if it is basic, premium, business, or ultimate. The disks have EVERY version of Vista. The only difference is 32-bit disks and 64-bit disks.
What is the "Anytime Upgrade" DVD? Most people think this DVD is just to do an "upgrade" as the name implies. This DVD is actually a Vista installation DVD. It contains EVERY version of Vista on the single DVD. There are two "anytime upgrade" DVDs. One for ALL 32-bit Vista versions and one for ALL 64-bit Vista versions.
Can I use a retail or OEM Vista DVD instead of the "Anytime Upgrade" DVD? Yes, barrow a retail disk or OEM disk from a friend and follow the guide. The clean install process and the end result will be the same. Basically the Anytime Upgrade DVD, any retail or OEM DVD are all the same installation disks. The only thing different about them is the label stamped on the disk. All of these Vista installation disks contain EVERY version (i.e. Basic, Premium, Business, Ultimate) of Vista. It is the product key that determines the version.
Can I download a 32-bit or 64-bit disk? Yes, you can download Vista 32-bit and/or 64-bit and create install disks from this website: MyDigitalLife
Make sure you download the correct 32 or 64-bit files depending on what you want. After you download the files, you might want to look at this guide: How to Burn Downloaded Windows Vista to DVD I think it is a little easier to understand. Also, this guide uses a free utility called "imgburn" which is my DVD image burning utility of choice. I also use imgburn to burn .iso images for BIOS updates.
Can I have 32-bit or 64-bit? Yes, it does not matter if your factory installation is 32-bit or 64-bit. If your laptop currently has 32-bit Vista, just use the 64-bit "anytime upgrade", retail, or OEM disk to do the clean install to switch from 32-bit to 64-bit. Or vice versa, if you want to go from 64-bit to 32-bit.
Can I really upgrade from Vista 32-bit to Vista 64-bit by following this guide? YES!!! You can upgrade from 32-bit Vista to 64-bit Vista by doing a clean install with the 64-bit "anytime upgrade" disk (or any other 64-bit retail or OEM Vista installation disk) and using the ABR utility to activate.
What is Orev's Activation Back-up and Restore (ABR) utility? Orev's ABR works with OEM/factory Vista installations. It is a very small utility (2.2mb) that will back-up the Vista OEM/factory product key to a text file and will also back up the OEM/factory certification file hidden on your laptop. It creates these two files before the clean install and then restores them after the clean install. The ABR utility must be used with a USB drive or other external drive. The ABR utility was created by Orev. Click here: Orev's Clean Install Guide
Will the ABR utility work for me?The ABR utility can ONLY be used to backup from a factory install (Basically the untouched machine from the factory). You must backup the keycode while the factory install is still installed on the system before proceeding with the clean install. The ABR utility will not work if you have already done a clean install by using the keycode on the sticker! NOTE: Those who originally had Windows XP on their laptop then upgraded to Windows Vista with the "Express Upgrade" will not be able to clean install using the ABR utility. Do not attempt this guide using the "Express Upgrade" disk. This guide is for those that currently have a factory install of Vista and wish to clean install using the "Anytime Upgrade", retail, or OEM disks.
What is the difference between the key on the bottom sticker vs. the key found by the ABR utility? When a you buy a new computer, either a laptop or desktop, you will notice a sticker applied (usually on the back or bottom) that has the license key for the version of Windows you paid for but that key has never been activated. There is another key code hidden in your laptop that was installed by the manufacturer. This keycode is pre-activated. This saves companies like Lenovo the hassle of activating every laptop they build and/or it saves the consumers and Microsoft the hassle of having to activate hundreds and thousands of computers everyday.
Why not use the key on the bottom of the laptop? That key is not "pre-activated" and you will have to call Microsoft to activate it. And, you will have to call them again if you decide to do a reinstall... and again if you reinstall... and every time hope that you have an explanation that they will agree to, even though you already have a paid license for it.
Can I use the key on the bottom of my laptop? Yes, if you have no problem calling Microsoft to get your system activated, you can use the key that's on your laptop. However, Microsoft will ask you why you need to activate. If you have to re-install again, they will ask you "Why?" again. Eventually they might say "No" and not activate your product. It's just a hassle to call and explain yourself.
What do I do if ABR utility does not activate Vista? The ABR utility works very well for almost everyone that uses it. I have a hard time believing that it will fail to work if you follow the directions exactly as provided in the guide. However, it's possible that the utility might not work (anything is possible, right?). Don't panic. You will get activated! There are other options for for getting activated. This has been discussed in detail here: Other Activation Options.
Should I install driver "abc" or patch "xyz"? The list of drivers above will get you going, but you might require additional drivers. If you have a certain hardware on your laptop you will most likely require a driver for that hardware. So if it applies to your laptop and operating system, then yes, you should probably install the driver or patch in question. Do not confuse drivers with utilities. Drivers are necessary for you hardware and operating system to communicate with each other. Most Thinkvantage utilities are not necessary and in most cases will only slow down the performance of your laptop.
What is ThinkVantage? ThinkVantage is not one utility. It is multiple thirdparty utilities from Lenovo. Each of these utilities can be downloaded and installed separately from Lenovo. If you are tempted to install some of the Thinkvantage utilities, TRY TO RESIST!!! If you still insist, I recommend that you hold off on installing those for at least a few weeks to become acquainted with the performance and stability of your laptop. THEN install one Thinkvantage utility every couple of weeks. That way if one of the utilities causes an instability or performance issue you will be able to isolate the problem utility and uninstall it. Avoid installing ThinkVantage utilities that you do not need to avoid slowing down the performance of your system. NONE of the ThinkVantage utilities are necessary except for ThinkVantage Fingerprint Software for those with a fingerprint reader. For a list of ThinkVantage utilities and a description of each of them Click Here.
Can I use ThinkVantage System Update to install the drivers for me? You can do that, but I don't recommend it. First of all, the purpose of this guide to to have a clean install without any ThinkVantage Utilities. System Update is a ThinkVantage Utility. There have been numerous reports that system update does not always install all the drivers and sometimes it will install older drivers than what are available on the Downloads and Drivers page. Using System Update makes it more of a hassle to figure out what drivers are missing and what drivers are old. Also, it is just not a good idea to rely on a utility to properly install drivers. Occasionally Lenovo will release bug fixes for System Update. In short, ThinkVantage System Update is subject to error. Do you and your laptop a favor and install them properly yourself. Here is just one of many threads where people complain that System Update is not working properly. CLICK HERE It's just too unreliable! I should also mention that BIOS updates should not be performed unless you have a known issue that the update will fix. Things can go horribly wrong if a BIOS flash is not properly performed. If you must update your BIOS, it is always safest to use the bootable CD method of flashing the BIOS.
Can I use Windows Update to install the drivers for me? You can, but I don't recommend it. Don't let Windows update install any drivers. Occasionally Windows Update will tell you there is a new driver for your Thinkpad's hardware. Do not let it install any drivers. Go to the Lenovo downloads and drivers page to check if a new driver is really available. If so, download it and install it yourself. Do not confuse "drivers" with Windows "updates". You should allow Windows updates to install all critical and important Windows "updates".
Will I loose any functionality of my laptop after the clean install? The only functionality you will loose is one of the blue ThinkVantage button functions. Pre-OS (on boot-up) this button allows you to do a factory restore from a hidden partition on your hard drive. After a clean install, the ThinkVantage button will no longer function properly pre-OS/boot-up, and you will no longer be able to access ThinkVantage Rescue and Recovery through the hidden recovery partition. There is no resolution that I know of at the moment. If you deleted the hidden partition so you could make use of the extra hard drive space, this function is of no importance to you anyway. However, you can get the blue ThinkVantage button working properly within Vista with the installation of the ThinkVantage Productivity Center Utility. Within Vista the blue ThinkVantage button works as a shortcut button which brings up a menu of the other ThinkVantage utilities on your laptop.
The only other thing you will loose after the clean install are a bunch of applications that come bundled with your laptop. For the most part, these applications are "light" versions (meaning limited function versions) of the applications you would actually pay for. Most of these applications should be in the swtools folder and can be installed from there. However, some applications may not be found in the swtools folder. It is up to you to look through the swtools folder to see what applications can and can not be installed.
If I can't use the blue ThinkVantage button, how can I restore my clean install? If you have Vista Business or Ultimate, there is a back-up and recovery program built in to Vista called "Complete PC Backup and Restore". It can be located in the control panel -> "System and Maintenance" -> "Backup your computer". It is very simple to use. You can use this utility to backup your entire PC to a separate HDD or make a set of recovery DVDs that will restore your entire system. Backing up is very simple, but you might need a little help the first time you Restore. Click here for a Complete PC Restore Guide. (NOTE: When attempting to restore using recovery disks made with Complete PC you must insert the last disk that was made during the backup process, first. Then when prompted-> insert the first disk you made-> then the second disk and so on.) For other versions of Vista you should consider a thirdparty back-up and recovery program such as Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost. Another option, for everyone, is to back-up files and redo the clean install.
Can I redo the clean install? Yes, as many times as you like. Some people like to do a clean install from time to time just to keep their system clean. After you back-up your activation using the ABR utility you can keep that on your USB drive and use it over and over. If you accidentally loose the ABR back-up information, no problem, just download the ABR utility again and start over.
What is the "hidden partition"? Lenovo put a "hidden partition" on your hard drive. This partition takes up about 7GB of space. This hidden partition is a back-up partition that will allow the user to restore the system to the original factory install. Most people doing a "clean install" are not interested in restoring back to the original factory bloated install. So many people, myself included, choose to delete the hidden partition in order to use that 7GB of hard drive space for other things. If you make recovery disks, as outlined in the guide, you can still restore to the original factory install including the hidden partition if you ever choose to do so using those recovery disks.
How do I remove the "hidden partition" on my hard drive? It is best to remove the hidden partition before starting the clean install. Just follow Hypertrophy's Diskpart Guide prior to installation. Then during the install follow the steps outlined in the guide under Step 3.12
Have you completed the clean install and are still having trouble with freezes and BSODs?
These problems are often related to the RAM. Make sure to test your RAM using memtest86+ it is the first thing you should do if you ever experience system instability issues or after installing new RAM. Click here to learn how: Test Your RAM with Memtest86+
Are you still not satisfied with the performance of your laptop? Install more RAM and/or install a better hard drive. I don't think anyone should be running Vista with less than 2GB of RAM. The price of RAM right now is reasonable so I'd recommend maxing out your RAM to 3GB if you have a 32-bit system or 4GB if you have a 64-bit system. Go to RAM Deals to check out the prices of RAM. Pick any 200-pin 667mHz RAM. They will all fit and work just as good as the more expensive RAM from the factory. Also, consider upgrading to a 7200RPM hard drive. RAM and HDD upgrades WILL provide a noticeable improvement. It is probably much easier to install these components than you think. Have a look at these Hardware Install Videos.
Can I use this guide to upgrade my current version of Vista? This guide is about doing a clean install only. The ABR utility will not activate any other version of Vista other than the version you currently own. It is not about getting something for free. PERIOD! After the clean install is finished you can follow Microsoft's method of paying for an upgrade version if you choose to do so.
What is the best way to take care of my battery? crisyana made a guide that will answer all of your battery related questions. Click Here: Battery Maintenance Guide
Where did stallen go? I'm still around, but I'm so busy with school that I will probably only be checking in about once a week. I'm convinced that this guide is very comprehensive. If you have a question. Read it again. The answer is probably already here. If not, the NBR community will chip and in help you out if you'd like to post a question in the thread.
UPDATE 3-23-08: It is not necessary to read all 125+ pages of this guide to get the information you need. The guide and the F.A.Q. are updated on a regular basis. If you do not find an answer to your question within the guide or the F.A.Q. section at the bottom of this guide then feel free to post your question in the thread. PLEASE, first read the guide and the F.A.Q. at the bottom carefully.
Thanks to Dave from Dave's Computer Tips for all the Vista install screen shots and walk-thru. Check out his website! Dave's Computer Tips He has some very good tips and advice. Subscribe to his Newsletters! Thanks for allowing me incorporate your hard work into this guide.
Thanks to Orev for creating the ABR utility. That utility is what makes this so easy! His guide is excellent. Orev's Clean Install Guide
Thanks to many other forum members like Wh1t3w0lf Clean Install Guide, and jstigall Clean Install Guide. I learned a lot from you guys!
Thanks to hypertophy. We used his laptop to test this guide. He put up with a lot of trial and error so YOU wouldn't have to.
As you can see I can't take credit for most of this guide. It is a collaboration of many peoples work. I just pieced it together. Hopefully this guide will help some people get the enjoyment out of their laptop they were expecting when they first pulled it out of the box.
Use this guide at your own risk. I cannot guarantee that it will work for everyone. I cannot guarantee that everyone will be happy with the results. I do not work for Lenovo. I do not work for notebookreview.com. Furthermore, this guide is intended to assist those with a clean install of the version of Vista that you purchased and already own. It will not work if you attempt to use it to upgrade to a version that you do not own. It is not intended for the purposes of piracy. I take no responsibility for the actions of others who attempt to use this for the purposes of piracy. You are responsible for your own actions.