Windows 7 re-install - how screwed am I?

I think I messed up.

My laptop came with Windows 7 64-bit installed. I was having problems, so I decided to just re-install Windows from a disc I bought separately a while ago.

After the re-install I realized that my disc is a 32-bit. Even worse, the product key will not allow activation (something about it not being approved for this computer).

I am almost positive that I received no recovery discs with the PC (searched both high and low). I never burned a recovery disc. I see there is a small portion of the hard drive reserved for recovery, but it does not look like it contains Windows. I tried running a “one-touch” recovery application from this partition but it did not like the 32-bit Windows.

The laptop is a Lenovo purchased more than a year ago.

I am just about resigned to buying another Windows 7 full install disc (64-bit), but I’m wondering if that will even activate.



Which version of Windows 7 did you have? Do you still have the license key?

This site has information on how to acquire recovery disks from Lenovo:

Based on your post, it sounds like you will need the last option (call support to purchase the disks):

You can call Lenovo and they will ship you a set of restore disks. The cost is likely to be something like $10.

It is also probable that the original restore partition is still intact and contains a copy of the Windows installer, but you will need to consult the computer manual / Lenovo support / etc. to see how to get into it. It sounds like you may have gotten into the restore partition but asked it to “Repair” your installation as opposed to “restore”. Did you see any options resembling “Restore”?

On most modern laptops I’ve had to re-install Windows on it has been as simple as pressing F5 or F8 (or whatever it asks you to press) when it boots up, then following the on screen instructions. Does your laptop not have this option/does it not work anymore because of the 32bit install?

It’s impossible to tell without looking at the laptop, but it’s possible that the recovery partition was nuked when the op re-installed windows.

I really appreciate all the help; I think I’m good now.

Looking at the underside of the laptop I noticed a label with a Windows Product ID number. I tried re-activating using that number, and it worked!

My next move would have been to phone Lenovo for the restore disk. Doing the F8 thing did not work. I did not see anything on the hard drive that looked like a restore app; the few things I tried fussed about the 32-bit.

Thanks again, all.


Wait, I’m confused. You installed 32-bit Windows 7 using the CD you purchased and later entered the OEM product ID for your Lenovo computer, and now you’ve got 64-bit Windows 7? Is that right? If so, I’m surprised, as I didn’t think it worked that way.

Cost me $50, including shipping, about a year ago. The IBM folks were top notch.

No, Dewey. I installed an older 32-bit Windows, then could not activate it with the number that came with that disc. I then tried using the number on the label on the bottom of the laptop (which came with the 64-bit) and that was accepted. I’m running 32-bit now.

Maybe I should still order the restore disc, now that I think about it.

Microsoft only makes two Windows 7 DVD versions, one for 32-bit installs and one for 64-bit installs. Each DVD contains all editions (Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate). When you buy a retail copy embedded configuration files on the disk only install the version you purchased. So if you want your 64-bit back you will need either your Lenovo/IBM recovery disks or a 64-bit install copy of Windows 7.

Here, have a link to Windows 7 installation disc images.

Why don’t you just buy Windows 8, it’s only $15 for the upgrade since your laptop is so new.

Now that it’s working won’t it allow you to create recovery discs, since you never did it?

Well, he has it working with 32-bit Windows 7. And I’ll bet that, while it works in general, a vanilla installation from the generic Microsoft discs will not have the drivers for one or more hardware items on the system. (You can tell if you check Device Manager and find the yellow exclamation mark by something.) The ideal way to reimage the system (at least for a novice) is to use the manufacturer’s recovery CDs.

Possibly because it falls in the “blah” bucket via the old “Star Trek Sequel” rule equivalent for home Windows OS (home, so WinNT can be excluded…)?

Win98SE = Good
WinME = Not Good
Win XP = Good
Win Vista = Not so hot
Win 7 = Good
Win 8 = Reviews are Meh so far…

It doesn’t.

I assume when he said, “it worked!” he meant, “it activated the 32-bit OS!” and not “it got me back the 64-bit OS I wanted!”

From what I’ve seen and read, I don’t think I want Windows 8.

Yep, I had to seek out some drivers (and install a butt-load of Windows updates).

Exactly correct.

It’s purring like a kitten now, BTW.