Getting the Drivers
You need motherboard drivers. Those drivers provide access to the hard drive, USB, and DVD. Without that driver, you will hit a wall. There are lots of driver download sites. AVOID THOSE. Get your motherboard brand and go to the manufacturer’s site and get the driver.
Get a free program called Speccy. This will get you a listing of all the hardware in your computer. You can find the important information you need before starting your upgrade.
In the image you can see Asus made my motherboard. So, that is the first place to try and find the drivers I need. You can also see my chipset’ was made by NVIDIA. So, I have a second place to look for drivers. It is the Southbridge version that I need to get to the hard drives. Win 7 will know how to get to newer drives, but may need help with older chipsets. So, find the drivers.
Get all the Win 7 64-bit drivers you can find for your motherboard. But, make certain you have the chipset drivers.
Burn those drivers to a CD/DVD. You may be able to get by putting them on a USB drive, but don’t count on it. Some older machines have trouble reading the USB ports during the install process. If the files are only on a USB stick, you may not be able to load them.
Last step in preparing is to test whether your DVD drive can read the Win 7 disk in your drive. If not, there is an alternative. If your computer writes ISO disk images you can move Win7 to media compatible with your drive. Microsoft allows the download of Win 7 ISO files for free. I used these: Technet Windows. Google for others.
Burn your ISO to media your drive can read. If you haven’t done an ISO burn before, Google for step-by-step instructions.
Once you are done burning your ISO to DVD check the disk using CDCheck. There is a free 30 day trail. Run this check. Often the later parts of the copy toward the center of the disk have problems. You want a trouble free install, so be sure the install disk you make is good.
Be sure to get your BIOS updates and update the BIOS BEFORE starting the update. This may save you latter heartache. Google for how-to’s and find your motherboard maker’s instructions.
The only dangerous part of a BIOS update is losing power. If you lose power in the middle of an update, you may be done. Done as in throw the motherboard away and get a new one. Some manufacturers have recovery programs for a failed BIOS update. But, I don’t know how well they work or don’t. I’ve never had to use a BIOS recovery.
Once you have the drivers ready and all your data backed up… take breath and go for the Win 7 install. You may need a couple of hours.
I recommend formatting the drive during install. This clears old XP 32-bit drivers and files and gives you a clean install.
If all goes well, Win 7 just installs and you can login and use the computer. I’ll say about 1/3 of my upgrades go so smoothly.
One of the first problems is the install cannot find a drive to install to. This is a problem with the chipset driver. In XP we got a chance to install RAID and other drivers to access the hard drives by pressing F6. There is no F6 choice in Win 7, but you do have a chance to load a driver. When you are given the choice to select a drive you can look in the lower left of that panel and find a LOAD option, which is for driver loading.
You can remove the Windows install disk and put in your driver disk. Find the driver and install it. As best I can tell the Win 7 install program is not smart enough to search through subdirectories and find drivers. You have to navigate to them. Find the folder with INF files and pick it. You should see a list of drivers. I can’t help you much with licking the right driver. Hopefully you find something that relates to the chipset name found by Speccy.
With Intel drivers you may have to unpack drivers.
The Intel driver install programs usually have a command line option to save the files to a folder. These are the files you will need for the install LOAD. Some of these can be run from the install’s browse. If they don’t run, see if you can unpack them.
Before attempting to unpack Intel drivers, make a restore point for the computer you use to unpack them. This should not be necessary, but it is better safe than sorry.
Open a command line window and enter: filename.exe -? or /?
You should get a list of the command line options. In some cases they appear in a pop up window. Use the commands revealed to unpack the drivers.
Once the drivers are installed you should be able to format the target drive.
The install will generally create two partitions. A smaller 100mb partition and another that is made of the rest of the drive. Install Windows to the larger partition. Ignore the smaller partition.