Updated on 8/20/2017
Hey everyone! Most of the laptops I’ve bought online had either no hard drive and if they did, they needed an operating system. Originally I would install Windows 7 Ultimate and use a activator, mostly because Ultimate was told to be the best. After dealing with a buyer who wasn’t to happy to know that I used an activator for windows and demanded $100 for it (literally the laptop sold for $180 and would of been still worth $130 had I installed vista in 2012). However later on I wouldn’t notice much of the differences so I would be a good boy and install the matching Windows OS on machines that had Windows COA, and made sure it was the correct version.
This guide is geared mainly to someone who already has a computer that has recent Linux or Windows machine. If you don’t have a computer, and have only a SmartPhone or some ChromeBook, you’re best getting information from an other site because I never had gotten stuck on something so frugal.
DVD Route – Most Lamest Way
You could go and buy DVDs, but they seem to be a bit pricey for a mostly one time use. I recommend buying a USB stick, as prices for USBs are insanely cheap now. I had found out that you didn’t need to buy a Windows DVD every time you installed Windows; Micro$oft is totally cool with you downloading Windows from them or from other sites. In addition, you could use OEM DVD or manufacturer reinstall disks again so long as it is not stated as a single install and/or says it can only be used for that exact system. Some of you all already know this, some do not. You can burn bootable ISOs of Windows from Windows 7, 8 and 10 at ease. Dunno about mac or linux, though I doubt you guys are going to be coming from this route (tell me otherwise and I’ll update it). You could buy Windows XP, 7, 8, 8.1 & 10 disks online if you can’t burn it.
USB – Get with the times Gramps
The minimum size you need is 8GB. These USB sticks can be bought for as low as $5 online or locally. If not Best Buy is another source too, plus they price match with Amazon. After awhile I started just buying different USB sticks, you can get 64GB USB sticks for as low as $20, and some could even be USB 3.0! Here are a few brands I’ve bought before and trust:
- Patriot – Cheap and reliable. Recommended, I have a few of these.
- PNY – Cheap, reliable and their USB stick designs are used by HP & Toshiba. Recommended.
- SanDisk – I’ve had a slide USB from SanDisk for years. Very reliable, a little bit higher in price due to them being known for being pioneers of flash memory. Recommended.
- Samsung – Usually pricier but have good designs.
- Sony – Most expensive but interesting designs,
- OWC – Eh, all USBs usually work already on Mac but some disk formats can’t be read, particularly multiboot USBs.
Now there are other brands too, and there are a lot of no name brands too. I mean most likely they’ll work for a long time, but I have messed up only two USBs thanks to improperly formatting a stick from Mac/Linux/Windows… dunno what happened but they died. Given that they are so cheap now, nab a 128GB or 64GB if you have the money, a 16GB unit would be good for some backups, but 64GB is recommended if you are backing up a lot of pictures for a friend.
Now you have your laptop, but what if it doesn’t come with an Operating System or an OS you don’t want to use? You don’t have to pay $100+ for Windows anymore, you can get Windows for free so long as you are matching the COA sticker with the operating system it is stating; there are a few guidelines to getting it activated and genuine.
With all that said.
The best way to create a USB from windows is done by Rufus. Other options include Yumi if you want to install more than one OS and then there’s UnetBootin if you want to deal with hell… yet that was the one I’d use for Linux. I’ve used DD a few times for linux, though it might scary for people not used to GUIs.
I know this is short, but honestly it’s all that is needed to know. All that is posted has guides on how to install onto a USB. 😀
Windows 10 – Embrace the Secure Botnet
You can legally download Windows 10 from Microsoft themselves, but you will need to have the activation key to type it in. You don’t just need a Windows 10 license, you can use a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 for activation. So this makes getting the newest version of Windows much less of a hassle than it was years back. Additionally you can download with updates pre installed, looks like they have big updates in April and October. However that download only works with that laptop/OEM key and I believe will not activate other computers. You will get stuck at the Windows install and you’re stuck with that one USB/DVD for that system…
Getting it the warez way
1337x.to has been a go to site for testing program purposes. And there quite a few good teams, TeamOS, Thumper, SadeemPC, ChingLiu & Gen2. I’ve tried them all but so far Gen2 has been my pick of recent. Anyways, they have ISOs where its an OEM (activates later), License script, KMS activator, or standard where you input the license key. If going the activation route, they have some where they make exceptions in Windows Defender so it doesn’t notify you when using it. On all my laptops, I find the OEM key in bios by using a license finder; Lazesoft is open source and gets my recommendation.
Windows 7 – XP of this generation
Microsoft used to let you freely download versions of Windows 7 without any issues, & it is still supported too. I have ISO files saved on my hard drive and have been using them to install OS without any issues. Nowdays, you have to enter your entire COA in order to get a download. From what I understand that ISO is tied to that COA, so if you want to install on another computer, you’ll have to redownload it again as it will say the COA will be invalidated.
Due to the wannacry virus/trojan that had affected a lot of computers except Windows 10, a clean install of Win 7 can get infected very easily if you are connected to an online network with file sharing. Thanks NSA. Microsoft released a security update to fix this issue, they even released one for XP lol. You’ll need the MS17-010 update to fix this issue, more info available on Kaspersky’s site & an article from Microsoft as well.
Now if ‘legality’ isn’t an issue, there’s always Torrents to get your data. RIP Torrentz search engine, 🙁
Microsoft took down technet/digital river a few years back but there was a mirror by a German site. 🙂
You won’t be able to see the seeds/peers, but these are legit OEM downloads of the ISO, I recommend trying out this first. You can find different versions of Windows 7; Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise. Most of these have Service Pack 1 and there are x86 (32 bit) or x64 (64 bit) versions of the ISO so make sure you download the correct one.
Here are the languages they have:
- de – Deutsch/German
- en – English (might be US not UK)
- nl – Dutch/Netherlands
- fi – Finnish/suomi
- es – Spanish/Espanol
- fr – French
- cs – Czech
- ru – Russian
- pt – Portuguese
- sk – Slovak
- cn – Chinese/PRC
- it – Italian
- uk – Broken English 😛
Remember you can always download language packs later and install them after setting up the PC for the first time.
However, if you are afraid of downloading operating systems, my next recommendation is buying them in disc format. NOW keep in mind, there are sellers who downloaded those ISOs and just burned them on a DVD, applied a printed CD sticker. You’re not ‘allowed to sell them’ on eBay but people get away with the loophole of selling it with a hard drive. Really dumb rules that M$ made, but hey its their OS.
- COAs is what cost money, no COA included? Can’t Activate Windows then (to most people)
- Sealed retail disks still hold value because of having unused Genuine COAs, their value are based off which version of Windows you get
- Next are loose OEM disks without COAs, sometimes these may be bundled with a disk or RAM because eBay pushes M$ bullshit law/rules about selling their discs.
- Recovery/Restore OEM Install Discs: Dell, HP, Lenovo, & others reinstall discs. These have slightly modified ISOs, mostly background photos, drivers, software and even extra tools are in here. You can install Windows on other systems with these, but I am not sure how well activation is, just make sure you have the correct version
- Recovery/Reinstall Discs with random photos/prints. These are just ISOs burned onto a DVD. These are for the people who are scared to download a virus, but who’s to say the ISO they have is clean, half of these look like bullshit anyways, especially the ones with different versions.
Remember, as long as you have a COA, you can install Windows of that version (basic, pro, ultimate) and should be able to activate it. As long as you have a readable COA, you should be good. One issue I have is a common problem with updating Windows, I’ll get into that later, but here is a hottfix for that if your computer starts slowing down.
UNIX & Linux Distributions aka GNU/Linux akaka Gahnoo Linucks AK-47 free Software
Linux is powerful! Linux is great! Linux is used in the top most powerful computers, linux is used in servers, science, and enterprise environments. So that means its better, right? Not always, however some people do love using Linux, it is a secure operating system and it brings back great life to older computers! The downfall is sometimes they are buggy, are hard to use or install for first timers, small issues like less battery life than Windows, and making the switch has compromises, but there is always WINE for Windows program compatibility, and leaving the Windows world is possible as seen by OSX. I’ll get more into Linux later but here are the main ones. Linux elitists your software of choice that isn’t posted is actually terrible for wide use.
Distrowatch – Weekly updates on new Linux Distributions, hits, reviews and downloads.
Ubuntu – The most popular version of Linux based off of Debian, a great starting point.
FreeBSD – The widely used UNIX OS based from BSD, which was based off UNIX, one of the oldest known operating systems.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) – The distribution that put Linux on the business market, however it costs money to use. Fedora is a free option.
Linux started development by Finnish programmer Linux Torvalds, he wanted a free to use, open source project of UNIX operating system to use away from educational institutions. From there people had developed different forks or distributions of the original Linux OS.
If you bought a Mac, chances are you want to use OSX, Apple’s UNIX Operating System. I am not too too familiar with OSX, nowadays it seems Apple releases an update every year. Most 64 bit Macs will let you download the latest operating system through the app store, I am not too familiar with the recent macOS Sierra requirements (lol who cares about 2018 this is dated). You have to create an Apple ID, which is basically like creating a Google account but requires you to put in Credit Card information… After you log in, you go to the App Store, click on ‘Updates’ and you should be able to get a download link for it. Download it and you should be good to go.
However, before you update, maybe you’d want to get a bootable USB of your Operating System if you ever get another unit! I use DiskMakerX to create a bootable USB for all my OSX installs. It is currently supported for 10.11.3 El Capitan & I use it to install on all my Macbooks and iMacs I resell.
OSX is a pain to torrent because it likes to be under .DMG format, not .ISO that Windows & Distros are usually in. I haven’t found a proper way to create a bootable USB without going Apple’s OEM route, there are some ISO files you can torrent but exctacting them and having them work is a different story. Some modified versions of OSX are strange to set up, I haven’t hackintosh a computer yet, I currently have no desire to build one.
My typical OSX clean install procedure:
- Stick USB onto Mac before turning it on, after pressing power I hold ‘option’ key and select USB.
- After booting, I am not sure if the HDD/SSD is ready to be OS deployment, the time/date can be a hindrance too, because it will bog out during middle of install and you would have to start again.
- I select ‘Disk Utility’, I will erase the disk and format to OSX Extended (Journaled) and name it whatever, then exit back to menu.
- To be safe I would have to set Date/Time in case its off, (wont install). So I would open terminal and set date time using ‘date 0814174916’ which translates to ‘August 14th 5:49PM 2016’ the time of me writing this.
- Now after those two are done, I am now ready to install OSX on my Mac. Typically this takes from 25 to 45 minutes depending how good your Mac is.
- After install you don’t have to sign into itunes, but you have to make a user name and password.
- From there you are good to go, but you will have to sign into an Apple ID to update OSX patches, however I haven’t had problems selling computers using this process.
I skipped Windows 8 because it is terrible as Vista. Windows 8.1 is where it is at if you don’t want Win 10. You can install Windows 8.1 if you have Windows 8 embedded COAs without any problems. Windows installs the version by reading the COA thats embedded, I don’t have info regarding upgrading to Pro.
- Sub $10 – Cheapest, who cares, you don’t have a USB or DVD to burn and want to be spoonfed.
- $8 – $25 – OEM reinstall disks.
- $25 – $200 – Retail versions w/ COAs.