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Win7 upgrade / clean install over Vista 64bit with multi-partitions


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Edito: This is a lengthy post and I re-arrange a paragraph for clarity... content the same. Should I repost this in a shorter version, since I haven't heard back from anyone and this might be too long?


I received the Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit free update and I am preparing this transition by doing the usual back-up (user data, ...) and rounding up programs to be re-installed. I would like to preserve the same multi-partition set-up I used with Vista install and I described below. I also hope to be able this time to successfully move the program Files directories to another partition than the OS default partition this time. Before, I get started with a "fresh install" I have some questions (see "Questions" below).

Last summer I successfully installed Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit using an unattended install from a copy of the Vista OEM DVD (inc. install.wim) and my custom unattend.xml answer file saved onto an external usb hard drive. The target hard drive was configured with multiple partitions, as I used to have on my XP system and which is also in preparation for future hard drive additions (i.e. easily done by cloning partition image to hard drive upgrade).

This unattended install is described in this post:


This approach allowed to successfully create and define the User and data Program Data directories on a separate partition (i.e. F:). However I was not able then to move the Program Files folders and left them on the OS C: partition, and I had to manually select my dedicated Programs partition located on E: during each application custom installations.

The multi-partition set-up on my current Vista systems and which I'd like to keep for Windows 7 is defined as follow:

Vista C: (os, and some program which installed there by default)

Swap D:

Progs E: (applications and games)

Users F: (default user locations

Media H: (recorded TV, music, ...)

Note that the pagefile.sys use for swap/paging file is set to a constant size of 9344Mb (about 9.19GB) on D: partition (9.24Gb), and no paging file is set for C: drive (i.e. OS partition). My system has 3x2=6Gb OCZ 1600 DDR3 ram.

My questions before getting started:

1)a) Is a copy of the Windows 7 DVD loaded on L: drive to my external usb hard drive G: using xcopy L:\*.* /s/e/f G:\Windpows7_DVD the correct approach to make a copy OS source DVD for install? (I forgot how I copied Vista last Summer). Are these options parameters with Xcopy the one I need?

1)b ) If I did not want to use an external drive, would it be ok to use the H: partition of the same physical drive that he target OS partition (just curious, I would use USB external drive)?

I am planning to restore user data back-up on freshly created user account since I heard that user data can't be directly transferred between Vista and Windows 7 (in particular user profiles, program data, ...). All program will be re-installed too for a fresh system. An image of the OS will be back-up after fresh install and patch applied and before programs are installed.

2)a) When using my custom answer file will a "clean install" wipe out not only the OS partition (on C: ) containing Vista but also the partition and/or directories containing the User and Program Data (on F:) -or- do I need to wipe them (i.e. User and Prog. data) first before the system install?

2)b ) On a multiple partition, only the partitions with OS and Users an programs data/files are modified and in my case the H: (and E: drive) should be preserved after Windows 7 clean install. Is this correct?

I just came across another method to sucessfully move the Users and Program Files directories to a different partition than the OS. It uses robocopy, rmdir, mklink /J and regedit at the command prompt (accessed with shift+F10) at the user account creation prompt. http://tuts4tech.net/2009/08/05/windows-7-...on/#comment-393

3) Shall I use my unattend.xml files for install, which uses <FolderLocation> to set Users and Program Data to a different partition) before carrying on with the method described in this link above to also move the Program Files (inc. Program Files (86))? Or shall I just follow this second method and not use the <FolderLocation> in my answer file to define Users location during the <settings pass="oobeSystem">?

4) If moving the Program Files and the symbolic Links properly define the appropriate Directory junctions (for C:\Program Files, ....) to a partition other than the OS C: partition, then how large the OS C: partition needs to be to hold Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit? (Again the paging file is not set on C: but D:)

Note that before a clean install of Win 7 over Vista, the OS partition is 29.8Gb and 24.2GB in this current configuration is used not only by Vista HomePremium 64Bit but also by some program installed on C: since I was not able to move the Program Files directories when Vista was installed last Summer. If it is much more than I need for full Windows 7 Home Premium install, I would not might changing my hard drive partitions to provide more disk space for program or User data or Media partitions

I would prefer my Windows 7 system install to start right away (i..e "on the right foot") with the creation of Users, Program data and Program Files directories and the associated registry and system parameters set accordingly. None of the method can do this without a minimum of tweaking. The second method is applying this changes by using the command prompts (shift+F10) when the user account creation prompt is displayed. The unattended approach creates these during oobeSystem pass, but does also require some registry values to be changed...

5) Between the Unattended approach using an answer file and the method above after Windows 7 seven installation just at the user account creation stage, which is recommended by the experts here and why?

I realize this is a very detailed and lengthy post. Thank you in advance for reading and taking the time to reply and help me clarify these points before I get started with Windows 7 updgrade clean install over Windows Vista OEM.


Edited by dpluigi
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This is a lengthy post and I re-arrange a paragraph for clarity... content the same.

Should I repost this in a shorter version, since I haven't heard back from anyone and this might be too long?

In a nutshell, I am concerned about applying a clean install of Windows 7 over Windows Vista which has a multi-partition configuration (Users and Program data). Also, I would to preserve this configuration and possible fully move Program Files directories off C: partition to its own partition on E:. Lastly, will a Windows install only affect the partitions hosting the previous OS (Vista), Users and Data?

Since my old multipartition configuration had program files distributed between the partition hosting vista C: (default location) and another partition E: (selected at manual install), a clean inmstall of Windows 7 might not touch the E: partition but the program might need re-installing and/or registry back-up merged back in for some programs...

Would it better to back my user data and wipe all partitions and re-create them during windows 7 clean install?

For further details please refer to the post above. Thanks.

I am an enthusiastic noobie looking forward to Windows 7. :) Vista was a temporary install on my first custom PC since there was a free upgrade option when I pusrchased it. Also Vista has been a little disappointing and frustrating at time switching from XP - Windows 7 seems promising according to the reports on this forum.

Thank you in advance for your answers. :thumbup


Edited by dpluigi
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