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Published on 02.22.07 by Brent Trahan

Uninstall Windows Vista

Learn how to revert back to a previous version of Windows after upgrading to Windows Vista.

Introduction

If you upgraded to Windows Vista from an older version of Windows with a clean install, you should be able to uninstall Windows Vista and use the previous version of Windows again.

Before you go any further, check to see if you have a Windows.OLD folder in the root of your C: drive. If you do, you should be good to go. If you don’t, you didn’t perform a clean install during the upgrade or you deleted the Windows.OLD folder and this won’t work for you.

Note: If you’re looking for a guide on how-to install Windows XP on a computer that came pre-installed with Windows Vista, The How-To Geek has a great guide that’ll help.

Before You Start

If you have anything important on your computer, you might want to back it up before you go any further.

Make sure you have enough hard drive space. You’ll need double what is in the Windows.OLD folder in free space to revert back to the old version of Windows.

Please Note: If you don’t follow instructions exactly you could loose everything. I’m not responsible for any damage or lost data caused by following this guide.

Let’s Uninstall Windows Vista

Start the Windows Recovery Environment with DOS Prompt

  1. Put your Windows Vista DVD in your DVD drive and restart your computer.
  2. Press any key on your keyboard to boot to the DVD when asked by your computer.

    uninstall_vista1.png

  3. Select your language and keyboard layout, and then press Next.

    uninstall_vista2.png

  4. Click Repair your computer.

    uninstall_vista3.png

  5. Select Windows Vista, and then press Next.

    uninstall_vista4.png

  6. Click Command Prompt.

    uninstall_vista5.png

Now that the command prompt is open we can get to work.

Rename the Windows and Program Files folders

  1. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    c:

    uninstall_vista6.png

  2. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    cd\

    uninstall_vista7.png

  3. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    ren Windows Windows.Vista

    uninstall_vista8.png

  4. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    ren “Program Files” “Program Files.Vista”

    uninstall_vista9.png

Remove the Documents and Settings Junction Point

Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

rd “Documents and Settings”

uninstall_vista10.png

Copy the Contents of Windows.OLD to the Root of C:

Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

xcopy /s /h c:\windows.old\*.* c:\

uninstall_vista11.png

Note: If you get asked if you want to overwrite files tell it yes by pressing y. The xcopy process will take a little while to complete. You’ll see a lot of activity in the DOS box while xcopy is working.

Restore the Old Boot Sector

Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

D:\boot\bootsect /nt52 c:

uninstall_vista12.png

Note: If you receive an error like the one in the screen shot below, use the next letter in the alphabet in the command above until it works.

uninstall_vista13.png

Restore the Old Boot.ini File

  1. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    c:

    then type:

    cd\

    just like you did earlier.

    uninstall_vista14.png

  2. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    attrib boot.ini.saved -s -h –r

    uninstall_vista15.png

  3. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    ren “boot.ini.saved” “boot.ini”

    uninstall_vista16.png

  4. Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:

    attrib boot.ini +s +h +r

    uninstall_vista17.png

Close the DOS Prompt and Restart

  1. Type:

    exit

    and then press enter on your keyboard to close the DOS prompt.

  2. Click Restart in the System Recovery Options box.

Cross your fingers and hold your mouth the right way and your previous version of Windows will boot up.

Clean Up Vista

Once you are absolutely sure you don’t need any of the old files used when you were using Windows Vista you can delete the Windows.Vista and Program Files.Vista folders in the root of your C: drive to free up a few gigabytes of space on your hard drive.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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17 Responses to “Uninstall Windows Vista”

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  1. Jason says:

    I searched for this in google, cause I downloaded vista, and it did not sit well on my old computer, it worked great! Thanks!!

  2. kathy says:

    I purchased a computer with Vista already on it and did not like it. I needed to replace Vista with XP so I could transfer my files and programs from my laptop to my new PC. This article did not help me.

  3. Brent Trahan says:

    This guide is meant for people who upgraded from XP to Vista and want to go back down to XP. If you need to transfer files and programs from one PC to another the link below should help.

    Windows Easy Transfer

    I don’t have a guide for installing XP. This website is mostly Windows Vista only.

  4. Chad says:

    What happens to the drivers and everything? DO they go back to those you used back in XP?

  5. Weber says:

    That’s ok but what if I have installed Windows Vista on XP as dual boot? I don’t think it is the same procedure. I just tried Vista and liked it very much. It actually doesn’t ask for much resources. My one takes only 350 MB of RAM when booted.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I had a few saved games on Windows XP. When I go back to XP, will I be able to play my saved games again? Or do I have to start from the start of them? Also I have bought some new games for my computer and they don’t work on Vista, so i want to downgrade, is this 100% certain to work or will it wreck my computer?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and I forgot to ask, I had a working sound card when I had XP, now it doesn’t work. If I downgrade to XP will my sound card work again? Or will I need to install it again or what?

  8. Mark Allinson says:

    Instructions seem to work OK. Vista has disappeared (I hope) Bring back XP !!!

  9. Julia says:

    I followed all of the direction perfectly but one problem.
    instead of typing exit on the command prompt I just closed it and started to restart now i can’t reinstall xp or vista please contact me as soon as you can to resolve this problem thanx.

  10. matthias says:

    Type the following in the command prompt and press Enter after on your keyboard:
    attrib boot.ini.saved -s -h –r

    What happens if this file doesnt exist?

  11. William says:

    I had windows vista given to me by a friend that works at Microsoft and the computer is a compaq brand new but i downgraded to windows xp and now it wont connect to the internet i have brodband thats always connected but is it something with the drivers? is it b.c the computer is so new xp doesn’t know how to use it? im on a friends computer or i would just use automatic updates and hope that works, but any help or links would be great thanks.

  12. Killie says:

    I am the same as William! My internet doesn’t connect!
    My brothers’ computers is connectted to the internet!
    (They did not downgrade Window Vista like me though)
    Do I have to download a driver?

    If so what? Please help! Contact [email protected]
    Please help!

  13. Steve says:

    Just a brilliant uninstall routine, backed up with screenshots. Bravo! If you tried this with the routine of Microsoft’s Technet, you’d be scratching your head trying to figure out how to remove the Junction between c:\users and c:\documents and settings.

  14. Ann Printer says:

    I found your blog doing a search for PC repair.

    Interesting. I wish I could help more with the discussion.
    I solved my problem so my systems are working fine at the moment.

  15. I followed all instructions and once the restart begins it goes to Microsoft Windows XP(TM) Recovery Console.
    1: D:\I386
    2: D:\MiniNT
    3: C:\Windows.Vista

    If I type 3 I get type administrator password required. My computer and I don’t have a password.

    Help, What do I do to get the computer to restart?

  16. E T says:

    It worked …. thanks alot i’m grateful

  17. sigma says:

    Learn how to uninstall Vista from your computer easily, here:

    http://www.brighthub.com/computing/windows-platform/articles/33566.aspx

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