Troubleshoot Windows installation problems

Here are solutions to some common problems with installing Windows.

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I do not have a product key.

If you don't have a product key to type during the installation process, you must buy a new product key and activate Windows within 30 days after installation.

Where do I find my Windows product key?

Get a new Windows product key

Activating Windows: frequently asked questions

I get a message saying there is a problem copying files.

Installation might stop if the system cannot copy files. Here are some possible causes and solutions for this problem:

  • Your Windows installation disc is scratched, smudged, or dirty. Clean the disc with a soft cloth, insert it in the CD or DVD drive, and then begin the Windows installation again. If your installation disc is damaged, you might need to replace it. For more information, go to How to replace lost, broken, or missing Microsoft software or hardware on the Microsoft website.

  • Your CD or DVD drive is not working properly, or the disc might be vibrating too much for the laser to accurately read the data. For more information about this problem, consult your hardware documentation, or contact the CD or DVD drive manufacturer.

  • If your computer has multiple CD or DVD drives, your computer might be trying to locate files on the wrong drive. If your computer has a feature to disable CD or DVD drives that are not being used, disable the drives that you aren't using. Otherwise, try inserting the disc into a different drive, and then start the installation again.

  • There is a virus on your computer. Run an antivirus program to scan your system and identify needed repairs. Be sure to disable the antivirus program before beginning the installation again.

My computer won't start from the Windows installation disc.

For information about starting Windows from a CD or DVD, see Start Windows from a CD or DVD.

My computer stops responding during installation and displays a blue or black screen or a screen that doesn't change.

This is usually caused by hardware or software that is incompatible with Windows Vista. If you have this problem, follow these steps:

  1. Wait about 10 minutes to see if the installation continues. Watch the hard disk indicator (often a small light on your computer that blinks when your hard disk is running) to see if there is any activity. If your hard disk appears to be working, the installation should be in progress. If your hard disk does not appear to be working, go to step 2.

  2. Uninstall all antivirus software, and then restart your computer. Don't forget to enable antivirus software after you install Windows.

  3. If the installation fails again, there might be a hardware incompatibility problem. Go to the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor on the Microsoft website to see if your computer can run Windows Vista.

  4. If you have compatible hardware and your computer still stops responding, disable any unnecessary hardware. Remove universal serial bus (USB) devices; remove or disable network adapters, sound cards, and serial cards; and then restart the installation.

  5. If the computer still stops responding during installation, contact your computer manufacturer or retailer.

An error message appeared during installation.

If you see an error message during installation, read it carefully and follow any instructions it contains to help you resolve the problem. If you need more information, go to the list of error messages you might see when upgrading to Windows Vista online.


  • It's best to get important updates for installation at the beginning of the installation process. These updates include security updates and hardware driver updates that might resolve the error. To get installation updates, you need a working Internet connection during installation. If you do not have an Internet connection, you can still install Windows, but you won't be able to get the installation updates.

A program or a device doesn't work since I upgraded to Windows Vista.

You can try running a troubleshooter to diagnose and fix common problems with hardware and devices.

To run a hardware and devices troubleshooter

  1. Click this button:

    Picture of a Fix it button
    Fix this problem

  2. In the File Download dialog box, click Run, and then follow the steps in the wizard.


  • You can also try reinstalling the program or device. If that doesn't solve the problem, check with the manufacturer for a newer version of the program or device—one that is designed to work with Windows Vista. For more information, see Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

I need help installing or upgrading to Windows Vista.

For detailed information about installing and upgrading 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, go to Installation choices for Windows Vista (32-bit) or Installation choices for Windows Vista (64-bit) online.

My computer loses power during installation.

If your computer loses power during installation, Windows will attempt to revert to your current operating system. You can continue to use your current version of Windows, but some features might not work.

Before you try to install Windows again, troubleshoot and eliminate the problems that might have caused your computer to lose power. Check power cables and power strips and replace any faulty parts. When you have done this, try installing Windows Vista again. Back up your files and then perform a clean installation (an installation that automatically replaces your existing version of Windows, including all of your files, settings, and programs). You must manually reinstall your programs and restore the files you backed up when the installation is completed.

My monitor does not display a clear image, or has no image, since I installed Windows.

Make sure that the monitor cable connections are tight and that the video card is correctly installed in the computer. If the monitor image flickers, you might need to change the monitor resolution. For more information, see Correct monitor flicker (refresh rate).

It's a good idea to check your monitor software and video card. For more information, see Troubleshoot monitor and video card problems. You might also need to get the latest driver for your video card or monitor. For more information, see Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

My computer cannot play sound since I installed Windows.

Try running a troubleshooter to diagnose and fix common sound playback issues.

To run a sound playback troubleshooter

  1. Click this button:

    Picture of a Fix it button
    Fix this problem

  2. In the File Download dialog box, click Run, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

I can't upgrade to Windows Vista from my language version of Windows XP.

For detailed information about upgrading from language versions of Windows XP to Windows Vista, go to You cannot upgrade certain language versions of Windows XP to Windows Vista online.

I can't find the answer to my problem in this topic.

To look for more solutions, go to the Windows Vista Solution Center on the Microsoft website.