Formatting my hard drive question

Hello guys.

I hope this is in the right place, if not please feel free to move it.

Anyway, I have decided to reformat my hard drive as it is full of rubbish and things that I really cant be bothered manually deleting. My hard drive has two partions C with my OS and various programs and games and F which has my music, pictures, videos etc. I just want to reformat my C drive.

My question is if I do this, can I re-install my copy of Windows 7, because I thought they were a one time use thing, would I have to buy Windows again or is there something I must do, whats the deal with that.

Sorry if it sounds like a stupid question.

Thanks in advance
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  1. if you own a windows 7 license then you do not need to buy another one. for the same computer. boot off of your windows 7 CD and during the installation process you can choose to format and install windows to the C: do not format your second partition and it will retain the data.
  2. Okay, thanks very much for your help, i appreciate it.
  3. The answer is not quite true:


    There are two ways to obtain Windows 7.
    #1) a FULL license (usually only from a store)

    #2) an "OEM" license which pre-builts usually use and you can buy yourself as its cheaper.

    The main limitation of the OEM license is that its non-transferrable to another computer (mainly tied to the motherboard).

    On both versions you have a limited number of ACTIVATIONS.

    *What I do is this:
    1) Install Windows
    2) Activate it.
    3) make a backup IMAGE (i.e. Acronis True Image free or full)

    If you need to RESTORE in the future due to a virus, or failed drive you can simply restore this backup. Since it's Activated already it won't affect your number of Activations. You should:

    a) always keep the initial IMAGE
    b) make periodic new images so you can restore to a recent time

    Free Acronis TI:
    If you have a Seagate or Western Digital drive (internal or USB) you can use the appropriate copy of Acronis True Image from their site (WD version for WD drives from the drive->software section).

    Reinstallation procedure:
    1) reinstall Windows
    2) install these drivers from the motherboard site for your exact Windows version (main chipset, USB3 if needed, Ethernet)
    3) Install other drivers like graphics card, sound card etc (onboard sound if Realtek can get from motherboard site or realtek site as long as the chip is the same).
    4) set Microsoft Updates to automatic

    - Windows OEM is tied to the same computer (motherboard)
    - keep a backup image of a fresh install of Windows that is Activated
    - make sure images are on a second hard drive, not just a second partition on the same drive. USB is ideal.
  4. Since it is complicated I kept this separate:

    If you have a pre-built or laptop you can do a RESTORE from boot starting with a Function key (see your manual). There is usually a HIDDEN partition with the factory default version of Windows.

    If you have the PROPER disc for Windows 7 then use that.

    I forgot to verify that, yes, you can restore to the C-drive ONLY. It won't affect the other partition (same for backing up images if you do it properly).

    Laptops have additional software which affect keyboard shortcuts etc.

    Drivers and software:
    make sure all drivers and software are up to date. Again, the main chipset driver, onboard ethernet, and onboard sound, onboard USB3 generally MUST come from the motherboard site and be for your EXACT version of Windows (i.e. Windows 7, 64-bit).

    If it's a pre-build desktop or a laptop go to the appropriate support site.

    *Some computers have different configurations, such as three options for video cards. Make sure to use the correct drivers.
  5. You do have a limited number of activations...HOWEVER, if you call Microsoft and tell them you're just re-formatting the same PC, usually they'll add one (always have for me).
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