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Having a hard time doing a Win 7 installation

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September 24, 2012 3:50:18 AM

I have a license for Win 7 Ultimate that I'm trying to install on my secondary PC at home. Unfortunately, my school only allows us the link to download Windows 7 for 30 days and after that, we have to pay to access it.

This is what my current issues are:

I had the OS installed, but my dad was complaining that my new system (sandy i3, 8GB ram, 60gb OCZ agility 3), was slow and that it would crash often.

I isolated the problem after checking error codes and the like to a windows installation error. I do not have another computer in the house that can burn DVDs, so I use the flash drive method (via the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool) to put the .iso on the drive and boot/install that way.

Since I wiped the computer, I have been unable to successfully install any version of Windows (XP Pro, Win 7, Win 8) on his computer without it installing/performing very slowly, or experiencing any crashes.

I randomly downloaded some .isos online from 7 Ultimate, and most of the time when I use the Windows Tool to make my flash drive bootable, I get a generic "this is not a valid iso file" error and I am unable to continue with that .iso. When I successfully installed Win 8 twice on my computer, it was running very slowly and would keep crashing. Sometimes when I install Windows, it fails while unpacking/installing the files.

My dad ran a defrag on the SSD once. Could that have been sufficient to completely ruin it? Could my flash drive be faulty (I've used it to run installations before)?

Is there any way where I can get a legitimate copy of Win 7 Ultimate (I do not need a license, I have my own) so I can try again? Additionally, is there another easy way to make a bootable flash drive without using the Windows Tool?

Tech supporting this has been a major pain and I can't figure it out. TIA!
September 24, 2012 4:21:45 PM

Well, I tried a different flash drive, and that didn't do the trick. :/ 
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September 24, 2012 6:18:49 PM

Check the overall health of the SSD through any major drive monitoring/testing utility. You stated you have an OCZ Vertex 3 in there, which sorry to say, is a good candidate for high drive failure rates. RAM will typically cause system instability and outright cause crashes, BSOD, data corruption, etc. If you're experiencing severe sluggishness and install errors on a new installation, seriously look at your drive. Overall system speed and responsiveness also has more to do with the HDD or SSD that runs the computer more than any other component inside it.

"Is there any way where I can get a legitimate copy of Win 7 Ultimate (I do not need a license, I have my own) so I can try again?"
The way it works is the consumer purchases the right to use the CD key, you have not purchased and do not own the version of Windows (talk to the Microjoke company about this policy). You can have all the licenses in the world (God knows I feel like I do), but you have to have a build number (not version like Ultimate, Professional, etc.) to match your CD key series. It will be trial and error to find one that works, as to where you find it though, I cannot say short of outright purchasing a new key and install.
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a b $ Windows 7
September 24, 2012 7:29:14 PM

Digital River is the official source for iso images of the various windows installation media -- see HERE for links to the various versions just download the one you have the license for and it should work properly
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a b $ Windows 7
September 24, 2012 9:09:06 PM

You can install Windows and run it for 30 days without a key before you're forced to activate. To rule out the SSD try installing it on your HDD and if that's successful...Meanwhile the defrag will only reduce the lifetime of an SSD, not destroy it. There is a limit to the number of time cells can be written to, so data is deliberately spread around the SSD to use cells evenly. Defragging does performance no good, and only increases the number of times cells are written to...
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September 27, 2012 2:27:19 AM

I was able to get an ISO burned to a DVD at a friend's house, but for some reason it hangs at the "installing updates" part (after it's been upacked 100%). So far, flash drive method still doesn't work (I was able to use a different tool to get modified ISOs onto the flash drive). I'll keep trying :/ 
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a b $ Windows 7
September 27, 2012 4:05:00 AM

just wanna to make sure..

The SSD set into ACHI?
Had u tried update the firmware of SSD?


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September 27, 2012 4:07:52 AM

So....what's the status on the health of the drive you're still trying to install it to? Does it check out as being error free?
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September 27, 2012 4:47:59 AM

rdc85 said:
just wanna to make sure..

The SSD set into ACHI?
Had u tried update the firmware of SSD?


Windows is super fast when it works, but when it wants to randomly freeze for a minute, then I'm literally just stuck waiting.

I was about to check ACHI via BIOS, but the computer is on "Installing Update 7 of 25" so I can't check that yet.

I found out that OCZ's firmware toolbox doesn't let you update the firmware of the drive if it's Drive C (main boot drive of Windows), so I read online somewhere that I can use the Linux ISO to update it. I don't know how to check the firmware currently of the unit.

I'm not trying to find a tool that works to make my flashdrive bootable with the linux ISO.
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September 27, 2012 4:48:50 AM

matt_b said:
So....what's the status on the health of the drive you're still trying to install it to? Does it check out as being error free?


I have not yet, thanks for the reminder! I'm going wait till these Windows updates finish installing, then I'll check drive health after I make sure BIOS is ACHI ready.
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September 27, 2012 4:58:20 AM

I just set up the SSD in BIOS as ACHI (changed from IDE) and then it blue screen'd (like half a second) and then restarted itself. Now I'm waiting at a black screen for the Windows logo to show up...

EDIT: I had to change it back to IDE otherwise it would keep crashing everytime (and leave me at a permanent black screen with no text) I did a hard restart :/ 

EDIT 2: I wasn't able to use my flash drive and Linux ISO as a bootable drive for some reason. Computer kept saying that the Boot Manager was missing and I had to ctr alt del to restart. Going to run a health check on the SSD now.

EDIT 3: I used CrystalDiskInfo and it gave the health of the drive as "Good 100%." I'm waiting for Windows to unfreeze again, so I can maybe try and download some updates again.
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a b $ Windows 7
September 27, 2012 5:58:24 AM

That the thing if ACHI not activated when installing OS it need to use couple of step to enable it....

u will need microsoft hot fix (not remember the link)... ACHI driver from the motherboard...

the problem is, I'm forget the step by step way to do it... sorry

The other way is reinstall OS..
--------------------

The thing is if ACHI is not used there a chance TRIM also not activated. Without TRIM The SSD will became dumpster that will degenerate over time until it need to be reset -ed...

It could be the problems...
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a b $ Windows 7
September 27, 2012 6:06:00 AM

rdc85 said:
That the thing if ACHI not activated when installing OS it need to use couple of step to enable it....

u will need microsoft hot fix (not remember the link)... ACHI driver from the motherboard...

the problem is, I'm forget the step by step way to do it... sorry

The other way is reinstall OS..
--------------------

The thing is if ACHI is not used there a chance TRIM also not activated. Without TRIM The SSD will became dumpster that will degenerate over time until it need to be reset -ed...

It could be the problems...


Beat me to it by a millisecond!
Here's the M'soft link

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/922976

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September 27, 2012 6:25:04 AM

Thanks! I'll try this tomorrow. I don't have access to that computer right now.

To check that TRIM was active, I used this:

1) Check if TRIM is activated

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

If you receive a result of 0 then TRIM is enabled, and if you get "1" then the TRIM command is disabled.

My response from CMD was a "0" so I thought I was good.

How do you ensure that ACHI is on when you do a reinstall of Windows? So far, I've only really installed Chrome on the computer and some MS updates.
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September 28, 2012 7:48:03 AM

dodger46 said:
AHCI mode should be selected before you start the installation.
Here's a good step by step guide for maxing the performance of your SSD
http://thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/optimization-guides/...


Thanks for that! I was able to successfully change to ACHI via the MS hot fix.

I was able to update the firmware for the SSD which made performance significantly better.

BUT...

Then I started getting blue screens every few minutes.

This in particular:


So then I used OCZ's secure erase feature to bring the SSD to factory-fresh (but with the new FW) but now I can't successfully install Windows anymore.

/sigh
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a b $ Windows 7
September 28, 2012 8:17:31 AM

Try resetting CMOS (cured someone else's fault with that code!), and while you're at it check the battery is 3V if you have access to a meter...
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September 28, 2012 9:19:11 AM

dodger46 said:
Try resetting CMOS (cured someone else's fault with that code!), and while you're at it check the battery is 3V if you have access to a meter...


It's time to head out to sleep, but when I get back from work tomorrow night, I'll look up how to reset the CMOS in the guide, thanks! And I don't have a meter to check the battery voltage :/ 
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a b $ Windows 7
September 28, 2012 11:51:16 AM

to reset cmos is unplug all device (cpu. monitor, speaker, etc) from wall power ...

Remove the battery for 5 min, then reinstall the battery... (u might wanna use new battery, it quite cheap and sold almost everywhere...)
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September 28, 2012 4:28:30 PM

rdc85 said:
to reset cmos is unplug all device (cpu. monitor, speaker, etc) from wall power ...

Remove the battery for 5 min, then reinstall the battery... (u might wanna use new battery, it quite cheap and sold almost everywhere...)


I'm heading out to work, but before I go home, I can buy one. Any idea on what they're called?
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a b $ Windows 7
September 28, 2012 5:22:31 PM

It's a CR2032 Lithium Cell.
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October 5, 2012 8:23:31 AM

rdc85 said:
to reset cmos is unplug all device (cpu. monitor, speaker, etc) from wall power ...

Remove the battery for 5 min, then reinstall the battery... (u might wanna use new battery, it quite cheap and sold almost everywhere...)



I did that (I received a message that bios was reset), but then I ended up with this during the Windows install:

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October 5, 2012 8:24:08 AM

dodger46 said:
Try resetting CMOS (cured someone else's fault with that code!), and while you're at it check the battery is 3V if you have access to a meter...


No go :/  I was able to reset it, but the windows installation didn't go thru. Any other ideas?
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October 5, 2012 5:22:09 PM

dodger46 said:
That points back towards a memory problem, did you try removing a stick at a time? Memtest for several hours??
http://download.cnet.com/Memtest86/3000-2086_4-10524193...


I used the built in Windows memory test, but that seemed fine. The CNET link says that I have to have it burned to a CD for it to work? I can't use it any other way?
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a b $ Windows 7
October 5, 2012 6:14:43 PM

That's the best way, needs less memory to run, thus able to test more.... though i believe there's a version that you launch in Windows and it runs on restart. Don't have a link.
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October 6, 2012 12:05:06 AM

dodger46 said:
That's the best way, needs less memory to run, thus able to test more.... though i believe there's a version that you launch in Windows and it runs on restart. Don't have a link.


Haha, I won't even be able to use the Windows version since it won't install. Would a USB flash drive boot work?
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October 6, 2012 9:15:45 AM

dodger46 said:
I knew that... LOL! Of course you can use a USB, even to run a version of UBUNTU to check out your system.
Use this to install any ISO on your USB Flash
http://emea.microsoftstore.com/UK/en-GB/Service-Centre/...
How to download and run Ubuntu on your USB
http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop

You can even use Ubuntu to recover files from a damaged system
http://www.techsupportforum.com/forums/f64/how-to-use-u...


I have the Windows USB tool, but it doesn't work on modified ISOs (took me so long to figure out). One one of the Windows 7 links above in the the thread, there's another tool that can be used with modified ISOs, I'll have to try that.

What exactly do I use Ubuntu to recover? Does that only work if Windows was first installed? :/ 
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a b $ Windows 7
October 6, 2012 10:00:52 AM

had u tried what the BSOD said? to check the Disk tor bad sector ... (scandisk)
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a b $ Windows 7
October 6, 2012 1:03:36 PM

Just threw in the recovery link in case you get a failed installation and need to recover data. Was assuming you'd use the download tool to install a memtest or any other bootable media to check memory (and HDD as rdc85 suggested) on your USB Flash. Once you get Ubuntu up and running you could presumably run other checks.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 7, 2012 4:43:36 AM

After a thorough read-through I'm not convinced that the SSD is functioning as it should. To rule it out I would try to install Windows to an HDD, and if that works without a BSOD ...
Meanwhile scandisk/chkdsk not much use as they are designed for HDDs.
There's also a possibility of a problem with Memory Controller, yours will be a chip on the Mobo. (i7s built into CPU) but I would expect that to cause a Memtest failure. Diagnosed by having failures on more than one memory stick.
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October 7, 2012 6:31:07 AM

dodger46 said:
After a thorough read-through I'm not convinced that the SSD is functioning as it should. To rule it out I would try to install Windows to an HDD, and if that works without a BSOD ...
Meanwhile scandisk/chkdsk not much use as they are designed for HDDs.
There's also a possibility of a problem with Memory Controller, yours will be a chip on the Mobo. (i7s built into CPU) but I would expect that to cause a Memtest failure. Diagnosed by having failures on more than one memory stick.


Update:

I was successfully able to install Windows when I removed a random RAM module (took out on 4gb, left the other 4gb intact).

I was able to switch download and apply the MS hotfix in order to activate ACHI. However, when changing BIOS to ACHI, the computer would not successfully boot into Windows. It would just hang or bluescreen and restart. I had to switch the BIOS back to IDE, and so far, it seems to be working well.

On Monday, I'll run a memtest on the RAM (I'll place both modules back inside before I leave for work and see what happened 9 hours later). I assume that the memtest would be able to tell me which module, if any, failed/passed?
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a b $ Windows 7
October 7, 2012 6:40:15 AM

Unsure about Memtest ability to diagnose to a particular stick, i only ever had a successful fault result on one module that I suspected anyway! I usually find the swap out method the most effective...
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October 7, 2012 10:32:09 AM

dodger46 said:
Unsure about Memtest ability to diagnose to a particular stick, i only ever had a successful fault result on one module that I suspected anyway! I usually find the swap out method the most effective...


Gotcha, I'll run it on the stick currently in the machine, and then I'll swap with the one I took out. It's weird, that kit worked fine for about a month on my other desktop with no issues at all.
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October 9, 2012 5:33:47 PM

dodger46 said:
Unsure about Memtest ability to diagnose to a particular stick, i only ever had a successful fault result on one module that I suspected anyway! I usually find the swap out method the most effective...


Update:

I ran the Windows built in memory diagnostic (because I couldn't get memtest to work via a bootable flash drive and I couldn't find any DVD--... oh man, I only need CD for that size! Shoot!) and I ran the first module which currently seems to mostly work with 12 passes (I know, not many, but I didn't know how long it would take) and Windows did not give me an error message when it rebooted. I ran 25 passes on the stick I believed to be faulty and Windows did confirm that there is a hardware error on that RAM stick. It's a Corsair unit and I will be RMA'ing both units.

I unfortunately can't test your SSD theory just yet because I do not have a HDD to test with (both desktops in the house only have SSD drives).
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a b $ Windows 7
October 9, 2012 6:28:46 PM

Hopefully when you get the RAM sorted out that will be the end of your problems...
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October 9, 2012 7:00:08 PM

dodger46 said:
Hopefully when you get the RAM sorted out that will be the end of your problems...


God, I hope so. The hours I've sunk into this for just a RAM issue...
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October 19, 2012 2:51:03 AM

dodger46 said:
Hopefully when you get the RAM sorted out that will be the end of your problems...


Update: I received the new RAM today. Running a lengthy memtest before reporting back!
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a b $ Windows 7
October 19, 2012 3:18:15 AM

Fingers crossed!
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October 19, 2012 6:02:14 PM

dodger46 said:
Fingers crossed!


Ran memtest for about six hours. No errors. Dad hasn't complained about any issues yet. Looks like we're good.

TL;DR: CHECK YOUR RAM. IT'S PROBABLY BROKEN.
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October 19, 2012 6:03:08 PM

dodger46 said:
AHCI mode should be selected before you start the installation.
Here's a good step by step guide for maxing the performance of your SSD
http://thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/optimization-guides/...


Now what I'm going to do when I get home is see if I can reinitialize ACHI mode on the computer. If it works now (hopefully does so with non-defective RAM), then this computer will be golden. Will post updates.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 19, 2012 6:12:47 PM

End of a Marathon in view...
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October 20, 2012 5:00:40 AM

dodger46 said:
End of a Marathon in view...


Nope, no matter what I do, it always hangs at the Windows screen (with the hard drive activity light constantly on) or it bluescreens.

I applied the Microsoft hot fix previous to making the change. No idea what's wrong.

Is there a major speed, performance, or longevity issue with keeping it IDE vs ACHI? If not, I'll just leave it as is (IDE) rather than deal with it.
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a b $ Windows 7
October 20, 2012 8:18:47 AM

Not sure how much of a difference it will make, AHCI preferable I know. This thread contains a Registry hack you could try. Unless you want to try installing having set AHCI before loading Windows...
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/275945-14-ahci
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October 21, 2012 2:05:54 AM

dodger46 said:
Not sure how much of a difference it will make, AHCI preferable I know. This thread contains a Registry hack you could try. Unless you want to try installing having set AHCI before loading Windows...
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/275945-14-ahci


Will attempt the manual suggestion tomorrow. I saw that as well, but I thought that the Microsoft hot fix would have done that by itself. Guess not.

At this point, I wouldn't mind doing a complete wipe and redoing everything since there's nothing on the computer anyways... I just need to get the DVD back from my friend.
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October 25, 2012 4:55:20 AM

dodger46 said:
Not sure how much of a difference it will make, AHCI preferable I know. This thread contains a Registry hack you could try. Unless you want to try installing having set AHCI before loading Windows...
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/275945-14-ahci


You won't believe this... I turned on the computer today to do the ACHI thing and it started lagging like crazy like with the RAM issue, so I restarted it and it wouldn't boot up to Windows until I had to restart it a few more times.

This is getting ridiculous. I replaced the RAM with RAM that works, now what?!
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a b $ Windows 7
October 25, 2012 5:07:59 AM

Starting to look like a failing MCC (Memory Chip Controller) on your Board. Time to search Ebay for a cheap replacement?? Other faint possibity - PSU problems causing low voltages/ erratic operation...
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October 25, 2012 5:11:27 AM

dodger46 said:
Starting to look like a failing MCC (Memory Chip Controller) on your Board. Time to search Ebay for a cheap replacement?? Other faint possibity - PSU problems causing low voltages/ erratic operation...


How would I check the MB/PSU? All the components are under warranty and I'm not sure how I'd go about picking the right MCC or even replacing it. Should I just opt to send the entire board back to MSI and see what they do for a replacement?

How do I know to rule out the processor?
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!