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

If 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 3 March, 2014 - unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft has now disabled the download links for the disks wth SP1. As of this writing, you can still get disks for the original RTM version. However, you would need to combine it with the SP1 update. Download links for the old RTM are listed here.

Update 31 March, 2014. The download links for Windows 7 SP1 are working again. 

Get your own favorite tip published! Know a neat tech tip or trick? Then why not have it published here and receive full credit? Click here to tell us your tip.


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.

Click here for more items like this. Better still, get Tech Tips delivered via your RSS feeder or alternatively, have the RSS feed sent as email direct to your in-box.

Share this
4.234695
Average: 4.2 (98 votes)
Your rating: None

Comments

by ynsdavid on 19. April 2014 - 8:16  (115788)

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?

by v.laurie on 19. April 2014 - 13:17  (115795)

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/.

by sicknero on 19. April 2014 - 11:38  (115791)

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.

by angieboom on 18. April 2014 - 5:54  (115772)

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.

by MidnightCowboy on 18. April 2014 - 6:29  (115774)

Unfortunately we are unable to provide individual support in the comments sections. Please post details of your issue here in our forum. MC - Site Manager.
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by v.laurie on 31. March 2014 - 20:59  (115423)

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.

by cataquet on 27. March 2014 - 12:41  (115346)

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.

by Anupam on 27. March 2014 - 12:45  (115347)

That's true, the download links are no longer working.. returns a 404.

by IO.Hazard on 30. March 2014 - 7:25  (115403)

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.

by Anupam on 30. March 2014 - 7:50  (115404)

That is really a bummer.

by sicknero on 19. April 2014 - 7:52  (115786)

Vic's download links appear to be working again.

by Sandmansio2 on 25. March 2014 - 19:46  (115280)

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?

by Joe A.TT on 25. March 2014 - 20:21  (115282)

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

by Sandmansio2 on 26. March 2014 - 16:54  (115316)

yeah, although i cant access my BIOS i can only access my system utility, is there a certain way you burn the iso image to the cd?

by Anupam on 26. March 2014 - 17:46  (115320)

You will require greater assistance than can be provided here in the comments. Please post your query in the freeware forum please.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by george z. on 16. March 2014 - 8:17  (115046)

thank you v.laurie for that article. i was wondering and still am, can a windows home premium product key be used to activate windows ultimate or vice versa? please reply.

by v.laurie on 16. March 2014 - 16:04  (115049)

No

by Sont77 on 13. March 2014 - 10:13  (114987)

Hello I was wondering I had a copy of window 7 premium that I bought with my
Samsung laptop ...my hard drive crashed and I decided to buy a
intel nuc DN2820FYKH now I lost my copy of windows 7 but I found the box and have the product key will this copy of windows 7 premium work with my nuc and product key

by v.laurie on 13. March 2014 - 12:33  (114991)

If you have an OEM license, it is only valid for the original equipment.

by osaze88 on 23. January 2014 - 13:45  (113929)

i used a norton antivirus to scan my hp laptop, after which i reboot it. it boot up to where my password is required and after inputing my password its showing blank.pls help me i use windows 7 operating system

by MidnightCowboy on 23. January 2014 - 14:09  (113930)

We cannot provide support here in the comments sections. Please post details about your issue here in our forum. MC - Site Manager.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by Reshat on 18. January 2014 - 12:38  (113695)

I have a Gateway LT4009u computer and no problems until last night. When I went to turn the computer back on the screen comes up black with the words: not original copy Operating System. What does this mean? I cannot locate the Windows 7 installation disc which I was told would be needed. I do not remember if it came with one or not. I am not into the tech end of computers, but am trying to install window 7 or windows xp operating system of bootable pan drive.but i have no complete installation.why this problem?Please send me information anyone for this problem.
Thank you

by v.laurie on 18. January 2014 - 13:40  (113696)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here. Please post details of your query in our forum:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by yonkers on 6. November 2013 - 20:11  (112075)

I have a Gateway SX2803 computer and no problems until last night. When I went to turn the computer back on the screen comes up black with the words: Missing Operating System. What does this mean? I cannot locate the Windows 7 installation disc which I was told would be needed. I do not remember if it came with one or not. I am not into the tech end of computers, but am trying to get info on the problem I have. Thanks, for any help you can give me, yonkers.

by v.laurie on 6. November 2013 - 20:40  (112078)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here. Please post details of your query in our forum:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by suprqt on 16. May 2013 - 3:41  (107774)

I just want to get rid of the windows 8 that Microsoft FORCED me to get. I think i deserve windows 7 for free for the bull that windows 8 has put me through.

by comnut on 15. December 2013 - 20:16  (112963)

I hope people realise that the **OS SOFTWARE** is free, yes....

B U T

you have to have a **valid licence** that came with the PC when you originally bought it with win7 installed...

It is the LICENCE that costs the money.... :/

by artsiii on 28. April 2013 - 19:07  (107370)

To use this Win7 disk is it necessary to delete and format the C: drive or do you just load and do the setup?

by v.laurie on 28. April 2013 - 19:24  (107371)

For repair functions, you just use the disk and follow instructions.

by Rov on 1. March 2013 - 6:13  (105848)

Yes. Microsoft still sells the XP disks for $29.00. If your machine was running on XP SP3 with all the latest updates, remember to ask for an updated disk or you will be given XP SP2 since the links to the XP2 pathces have been closed.
Good luck.

Gizmos Needs You

Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting

 We are looking for people with skills or interest in the following areas:
 -  Mobile Platform App Reviews for Android and iOS
 -  Windows, Mac and Linux software reviews       Interested? Click here