Archive for January, 2010

Installing Windows 7 on a Netbook

January 2, 2010

I had to install Windows 7 on an Acer AspireOne netbook this week.  It was actually pretty easy, but there are a few tricks given that these devices typically lack a DVD drive.  There’s lots of info on the subject online, but here’s what worked for me:

  1. Prepare the Windows 7 image
    1. Get an ISO of the Windows 7 edition you would like to install.  If you have the DVD but not the ISO, you can create an ISO file from the DVD using a tool such as ISO Recorder 
    2. Get a clean USB flash drive with a 4GB or greater capacity.  I used an 8GB stick.
    3. Download and install the Windows 7 USB tool from the Microsoft Store web site.  This tool will allow you to copy the Windows 7 ISO to the USB flash drive and make it bootable.  There are ways to do this manually, but the tool makes things much simpler. 
      NOTE: if you are using Windows XP, you’ll likely need to install the Microsoft Image Mastering API v2
  2. Backup the data files from the netbook
    1. I didn’t have much to backup, so I simply copied what I needed to a USB drive.
    2. Optionally, you could use the transfer wizard from the Windows 7 DVD to backup and restore your settings.
  3. Install Windows 7.  Now you’re ready to install Windows 7 on the netbook.
    1. Plug-in the USB flash drive and restart the netbook.
    2. Go into the BIOS for the netbook and change the boot order so that the USB flash device is first.
    3. Save the BIOS settings and restart.
    4. The Windows install process should begin.  Use whatever settings you need to install Windows 7.  In my case, I did a custom install and blew away all partitions during the install.
    5. After the first phase of the install completes and the netbook reboots, I had to update the BIOS once again so that it would boot from the built-in hard drive rather than the USB flash drive.  This may be specific to the Acer model as I’ve never had to do this previously.
  4. Restore the files and programs
    1. I did a full fresh install of Windows 7, so I had to reinstall any programs I normally used.
    2. Restore your data and you’re good to go!

Windows 7 Home Premium actually runs pretty well on this Acer AspireOne A150.  The little PC runs a puny Atom processor and has only 1GB of RAM.  But it has a decent size hard drive (160GB) and a graphics card that, to my surprise, supports Aero effects.

Hope this helps – enjoy Windows 7 on your netbook!