How can I save my girlfriend’s computer after a Windows 7 to Windows Vista downgrade failure?

Mickey Mouse April 1, 2011
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So, I’ve been a great fan of this website for at least 4 years now and if I weren’t in dire straits right now, I wouldn’t ask. But I’m desperate.

In any case, I tried to use an .iso image to install Windows Vista on my girlfriend’s HP Pavilion. Some of the drivers for the copy of Windows 7 she had put on there weren’t working, so I thought, maybe incorrectly, that putting in Windows Vista might make it a little easier to get the drivers.

In any case, I used VCD to mount the drive, it copied all of the Windows files, etc., rebooted and then…nothing. Windows boot manager told me that Windows failed to start because of a recent change in software or hardware, and I needed to put in an installation disc, which I didn’t have at the time, obviously.

At this point, I can’t get it to recognize a Windows 7 installation disc that I put in there. She never was given installation discs by HP and I feel like things are looking dismal. Please tell me I didn’t ruin my girl’s computer! I just ran a primary hard disk self test, and the test status is “#10008- replace hard disk.” What can I do to fix this? I beg of you…

  1. Tina
    April 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm


    were you able to save the data on your girlfriend's computer? Let us know how you fixed and/or restored the operating system. Thank you!

  2. Mike
    April 2, 2011 at 8:44 am

    HP notebooks do not ship with operating system CD/DVDs. You can either create a recovery CD using the HP Recovery Software or order them directly from HP. Neither is actually required since there is a Recovery system hidden in the Host Protected Area.

    Both, backing up the data and reinstalling the Operating System can be done using the HP Recovery System. All you have to do is press F11 during boot.

    To backup up files you have to click Advanced options and then select Backup computer files. You will also need some media to store them - the best option probably is an external Hard Disk.

    Just read carefully before clicking any button - a Recovery installation will delete the entire Hard Drive.

    On a side note you could also use any other (retail) Windows CD/DVD to reinstall the System. Your primarily concern should be to backup the data which can be done using any other Live CD/DVD or USB drive (Live Linux distro like gparted, partedmagic or a bootable Windows via BartPE)

  3. Anonymous
    April 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Well you need to format your hard drive, use a live image such as
    Hirens boot cd (
    BartPE (

    then reinstal windows
    Then if your recovery partition is intact then follow this guide to recover windows setup from there
    Good Luck

  4. fruitgeek
    April 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Well, I hope you have a backup. I don't think you ruined the computer, but you may need to format the hard drive before you try again. It's usually better to burn the iso to a cd/dvd than to mount it and copy the files. I think it is sort of the same thing as cloning a drive, but I don't know for sure.

    More importantly, why would you ever want to downgrade from windows 7 to vista? Vista has lots of issues. You could use the factory recovery disk to put Windows 7 back on and then try to install vista in virtualbox or vmware. I am guessing there are just like one or two apps she has that won't work on 64-bit systems. I think virtualbox would fix this for you.

  5. Roy
    April 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    The very first thing I'd be concerned about is getting important files off of the hard drive (if still possible). The two ways I've been able to do this are:
    1) by plugging the drive into a machine that is still functioning and trying to access the data, or
    2) by booting a live CD of Ubuntu on the machine, mounting the hard drive and copying files to one or more flash drives. This would be the best option if you don't have another computer you can open up and plug the hard drive into.

    One of these methods should work for you if the drive hasn't failed completely and the files haven't been corrupted. If the drive is functional enough to recover your files, you should also be able to reformat it and start over with no issues.

    As far as restoring the OS on the drive as it is now, I wouldn't recommend trying to do so. Even if you get it to run, it probably won't run optimally. Think of it like a car that's badly damaged in an accident and then repaired: it may run fine and look ok, but it's never going to be truly the same. In this case, Windows has been wrecked. Luckily, unlike the car analogy, you can make everything as good as new by reinstalling the OS rather than replacing the whole machine.

    Of course this will mean you have to get an installable copy of Windows, but that's definitely much less expensive than a new computer. If you have an .iso of Windows Vista, that may mean you can burn it to a DVD and have a usable install disc, provided it has a valid product number that isn't already in use. Once you have a working install, copy over the files that you (hopefully) were able to recover.

    I'd be happy to help you out with more specifics or instructions on any of this if you need it.