Peggy from Florida writes:

“I have Windows 7 installed on my Desktop/Laptop. Due to an electrical problem I need to reinstall Windows 7 but my disc is broken (rolled over it with my chair). Is there any way to get a new one or download it from Microsoft? The disc has already been thrown away after we tried to tape it and use it. Any information and/or assistance will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.”

Hi, Peggy.  Thanks for the great question!

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The first thing that I would suggest is that if you do get a replacement disc, guard it well.  The further we get away from 7, the harder it’s going to be to restore the OS.  I had an HP desktop… oh… a hundred or so years ago that had a little compartment in the top of the case for the restore discs.  I never had to used them, and had, in fact, completely forgotten them when I moved the PC to replace it and they fell out.  But like they say, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. 

Now, for the million dollar question… do you have your product key?  It looks, more or less like this if you got your 7 in a box.

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I’m not entirely sure of what a desktop/laptop is, but your product key may be on a sticker on the bottom of your machine if it’s a laptop, and the side if it’s a desktop.  I ask this because, and I cannot stress this enough, IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PRODUCT KEY, YOU CANNOT REINSTALL YOUR OS.  Fortunately, though, there is a way to find it if you no longer possess it, and that is to use a program such as Magic Jellybean keyfinder (https://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder).  The free version will find your Windows key quite nicely, and then allow you to save it as a notepad file.  I strongly recommend doing this and then saving it to a thumb drive that you store in a secure place. 

Once you have your product key in hand, go here http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-recovery and download a Windows 7 ISO file.  Using a program such as 7zip, extract the information from the ISO file to create a bootable recovery disc.  Hopefully you have a DVD drive on your machine, because the ISO file is too large for a CD.  If you don’t, you can use a thumb drive.  And voila!  You have your Windows 7 back.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer