How to get a free legal copy of a Windows 7 installation disk

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Windows 7 imageIf you have a Windows 7 system and ever need a full installation disk for some repair function, you are likely to be out of luck. Nowadays, most PCs only come with a restore or recovery partition or sometimes a restore disk. However, neither of these provides a full installation but only returns a system to the same setup that it was in when you bought it. This is often not what you are looking for. Here is how to get a legitimate free copy of an ISO file for a Windows 7 full installation disk from the download service that Microsoft uses for online Windows 7 purchases. Note that while the disk file is free you still need a valid product key to activate any installation.

Microsoft itself does not provide Windows 7 downloads for the general public but the company uses DigitalRiver for online downloads.  Download links for all popular English language versions of Windows 7 can be found on this page. These are  large ISO files containing a number of GB so be prepared for a long download.  Once downloaded, the ISO can be burnt to a DVD or placed on a USB. These versions are updated to SP1.

Although these are full Windows installation files, be aware that they may not contain all the drivers necessary for your particular system.  According to what I read at Microsoft sites, these disks are the same as those sold online by the Microsoft store and installations can be activated with a valid product key that you already have.  I have activated copies on virtual machines and everything worked. 

For repair purposes, a product key is not necessary and one of these disks is a worthwhile addition to your emergency disks along with the one described in this previous tip

And there you have it - something to help make it easier to maintain your Windows 7 system.

Update: Microsoft has now taken down the Digital River links for Windows 7 downloads. Some possible alternatives are given at this link.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Comments

will this work with the windows 7 code printed on the back of a laptop? need to restore it to factory settings and i dont have the recovery disk so i was wondering if that would work

Your product key is probably an OEM license. Microsoft no longer lets you download Windows 7 unless you can provide a full retail key.

Can I use this to upgrade from Vista 32-bit?

Only if you have a valid product key for Windows 7.

So...if I find the correct .iso for my win7x64 (hm prem) burn that to a dvd or cd use that to boot to then use my System Image I have created I should be back in business if all goes well, am I on the right track here? I have an HP desktop and want to avoid all the bloatware and hassle of having to reconfig my pc to OEM (I changed the HDD to SSD and gfx card and RAM sticks) my hp recovery discs wont work unless I revert back to that set up...BTDT. Just trying to find a hassle free way to if needed to get it back to now.

hello i have windows xp installed on my daughters computer, she had a sleep over last week and a couple of her freinds played on her computer now its stuck in a boot loop, i have tried everything, i dont have a startup disc , can you please please please help me fix her computer

Microsoft itself does not provide Windows 7 downloads

Just need a windows 7 repair disk or Install disk, where can I find one to download?

Hi, perused through most of the comments and haven't seen this yet, hoping you can help:

I already had Windows 7 on my laptop but HD crashed. Swapped it with a new one and when I started it back up it asked for a bootdisk. Downloaded a bootdisk to a USB, inserted it, and the laptop asked for a boot manager. I downloaded a boot manager iso, Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (32 Bit), but it's not working when I boot up--still getting the same error "BOOTMGR is missing..."

Any suggestions?

Thanks much,
Chris

Thank you so much for this link. It works really well and I burned it to disc with
CD Burner Xp which is free. I sure feel more secure now that I have an actual disc if anything happens to my installed Windows 7 64. Thanks again - you are wonderful!!

Seeing this article again is great! when it first came out I did the deal and all worked perfectly. Having this iso as a tool along with regular backups has made win7 almost foolproof.
Thanks for the effort and the updates.

I have try to use ImgBurn this end up turn to blue screen, I think my ISO is corrupted.
May I know how to use download manager to control the download? I click on the link then it download direct cannot attached to download manager

For Firefox and FreeDownloadManager, you can run FreeDownloadManager then right click the download link for the ISO and select "Copy Link Location". You can then click the button to start a new download in FDM and paste the link in.

It will be slightly different depending on what browser/manager you use but the process is the same in principle. Also if you use installed rather than portable software it can all be done automatically.

Hope that makes sense ... if you'd like more detailed help it would be better to open a thread in the forum (https://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/) as these pages are really for comments only.

I have downloaded file X17-58997.iso (win7 Home Premium 64bit). Use Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool, then error message the downloaded file not vaild ISO file. Is there other method to burn into DVD? I want to create Windows 7 DVD Bootable disc, do I use the correct DVD tool?

There are a variety of things that could have gone wrong with a download this big. The ISO may be corrupted. The big download can be a pain but did you try downloading another copy of the ISO? As to alternate DVD burning software, many PCs with a DVD drive come with some third-party software and you could try that if you have if you have it. If you continue to have trouble, please post the details of your problem in our forum: http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/.

I'm not familiar with the process as you describe it.

I used FreeDownloadManager to get the ISO (http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/free-download-manager-portable) and ImgBurn to burn it to disk at speed x2.4 (http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=583).

It appears to work fine, by which I mean that I've tested it as far as seeing that the DVD boots ok as far as the install dialogue but I haven't actually run the complete installation.

Thanks for advise. I try but it at the end turn to blue screen. May i know how you download your ISO by portableapps?

Regarding Windows 2007. Have had the same password for a very long time. Everything working well until yesterday, when signing on to my computer, received a message that the password was incorrect. Quite impossible, I can assure you. Rebooted the computer to no avail. I do not have a password reset disk. I was told by Microsoft that my only option is to purchase Windows 8. I don't think I even have enough memory or the right bit(32/64)for that kind of installation. I'm infuriated. Please help if you can.

Microsoft seems to be playing games with the Digital River download links for Windows 7 SP1 ISO files.They are back up. This is the second time Microsoft has disabled the links and then restored them. How long the links will continue to work this time, I don't know.

I bookmarked this page, and today I came to download the image [Win 7 ultimate 64], only to find that the download links are no longer active.

That's true, the download links are no longer working.. returns a 404.
The links are broken because the software distribution deal that Microsoft had with Digital River expired this month and the latter's download page no longer exists (bummer, right?). All these downloads have been transferred to the MS Store, meaning most of them are no longer available for free unless you provide a "proof of purchase" of such products.
That is really a bummer.

Vic's download links appear to be working again.

Hello, okay so... I installed a new hard drive then I downloaded the windows 7 home premium 64bit from the link provided, burn it to a disk but when I put it in and start up, it comes up with "operating system not found"

Is because of the new hard drive or could it be something else?

Did you change the boot order in the BIOS to boot from the CD/DVD drive first?

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