If you're upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 it should be a fairly easy install. You can do what's called an in-place upgrade as long you install the same version of Windows 7 as you have of Vista.
For instance, if you have Windows Vista Home premium you can upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium. You can also go from Vista Business to Windows 7 Professional, and from Vista Ultimate to 7 Ultimate. Any other upgrade, like Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional, will require a clean install. That means you can't just turn Vista into 7. You have to export all your data, erase the hard drive and then reinstall all your applications and data. A lot of computer experts think you should do a clean install anyway, just to make sure your machine runs better.
See our video for upgrading XP to Windows 7 for that process.
But if you're lucky enough to be able to do an in-place upgrade and want to, here's what you do.
First back up your data. Just to be safe, we recommend Macrium Reflect as a great way to image your drive.
Next, put in the install DVD and select Run setup.exe.
If you're unsure whether Windows 7 will run, press Check compatibility online. Though really you should check that before you buy Windows 7. It will take you to a web page where you can download and run the Windows 7 upgrade adviser. But if you're sure your computer is compatible, go ahead and click Install now.
Windows 7 will begin copying temporary files and start the install. It will first ask you if you want to go online to get the latest updates. We recommend you do it; it could save you some time later. Then agree to the terms that you have fully read and understand.
Select Upgrade. Windows will check compatibility and then begin copying files. After awhile, probably hours not minutes, your machine will start to back up into Windows 7!
Now you may have some settings that didn't transfer and are overwritten by Windows 7 defaults. Most notorious are the programs in your taskbar. So, be ready to do some tweaking to get things just exactly the way you like them. Also since you didn't start fresh some quirks in Vista may carry over to 7. But most won't.
Overall, it's a much simpler and faster process than the clean install.