Driver Installation Order – Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP


Tutorial Video

Written Guide

Microsoft with Windows 10 has made great strides to give base functionality, so USB 3.0 drivers and storage controller drivers necessary for installation are incorporated into the installation media. They have also created an inbuilt network driver for most wireless and ethernet devices, which allows basic internet connectivity and Windows 10 also downloads many more system drivers automatically, in other words with Windows 10 most systems will function of the box. OEMs such as Dell, Lenovo and HP have driver detection programs which run on Windows 10 and connect to the internet. They then compare the driver versions installed to those listed on their servers to see if driver updates are available.

In older versions of Windows basic functionality (in particular network functionality) is often not incorporated so naturally such driver detection programs don't work as they cannot connect to the internet (also it should be noted that systems which have reached end of life such as Windows XP and Windows Vista are a security risk when connected to the internet) moreover the driver installation order was important. For best performance, one should install the latest major OS Updates known as "Service Packs", the Dell System Software (if available for your model), the Chipset Drivers and then the rest. In Windows XP, install the audio driver and then the modem usually caused issues.

For a system shipped with a Windows 7 OEM or Windows 8.x OEM License you can take your free upgrade to Windows 10. For a system shipped with Windows XP OEM or Windows Vista OEM it is probably not worth paying for a Windows 7 License as it's no longer sold and reaches end of life in 1 year. If they are compatible with Windows 10 you can install Windows 10 on them without a Product Key. This will run Windows 10 unlicensed, meaning your desktop is watermarked. Windows 10 won't run well on such old hardware but it will in general outperform Windows Vista. You are best to save your money towards new hardware which will have a Windows 10 OEM License or even second hand newer hardware which will have a Windows 7 OEM or Windows 8.x OEM License which can be used with Windows 10.

Where to Download Dell System Drivers?

There are 2 sources of official Dell Drivers:

The Dell FTP Website is recommended as it contains direct download links. You'll need to use these on a modern computer to download the drivers onto a USB flash drive.

Note on the FTP Website all drivers for all OS are listed and you must select the ones which apply to you (WB64a = Windows 8.1 64 Bit).

Note in all of Dells official services the drivers are listed alphabetically by category with applications before drivers. This is not the install order and the system likely won't function optimally if the drivers are installed in the order listed by Dell.

When downloading all the system drivers I recommend saving each driver in an appropriately labelled folder and adding a numeric prefix to the folder. This will ensure that you install the drivers in the recommended order.

Unofficial Support

When Windows 7 was the latest Operating System, I listed a number of Unofficial Windows 7 Drivers Sets for Windows XP OEM and Windows Vista OEM systems. Nowadays these Operating Systems have Reached End of Life and I did not feel the need to do this with Windows 10 as it has most necessary system drivers inbuilt.

Installation Order of Dell System Drivers


If upgrading your OS from an older version of Windows to a newer one it is recommended to have the latest Dell BIOS firmware which may have enhancements which make the system run more reliable under the new version of Windows. Care should be taken when updating the BIOS as a failed BIOS update means a dead motherboard see Updating the BIOS for details.

You should only update your BIOS from your old Windows install if its stable and not infested with Spyware/Malware!


You may also have firmware updates for separate components such as hard drives or solid state drives. Firmware updates may also have enhancements which make the system run more reliable under the new version of Window. Care should be taken when updating the firmware as a failed firmware update can lead to a non-functional drive see Updating the Firmware of a Solid State Drive or Hard Drive for Details.

There are also firmware update for optical drives (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) and the instructions for updating the firmware of these components are similar to the Hard Drive and Solid State Drives. Care should be taken when updating the firmware as a failed firmware update can lead to a non-functional optical drive.

F6FLPY SATA Preinstallation Drivers

As a rule of thumb if your computer or drive is significantly newer than the Windows Installation Media you are using you will need to load SATA drivers during Windows installation otherwise Windows will not be able to install on the drive as it will not recognise the storage controller:

  • Windows 8.1 – 2014
    • Windows 8.0 – 2012 At End of Life
  • Windows 7 "Dell Skylake" – 2016
    • Windows 7 SP1 Media Refresh – 2011
    • Windows 7 SP0 – 2009
  • Windows Vista SP2 – 2009 At End of Life
    • Windows Vista SP1 – 2008 At End of Life
    • Windows Vista SP0 – 2007 At End of Life
  • Windows XP SP3 – 2008 At End of Life
    • Windows XP SP2 – 2006 At End of Life
    • Windows XP SP1 – 2002 At End of Life

To install Windows you will need to prepare and load F6FLPY SATA drivers otherwise Windows won't see the drive or fail to configure at the end of installation. These drivers are labelled F6FLPY SATA drivers for historical reasons as they could only be loaded from floppy disk! pressing F6 during the Windows XP setup.

Windows 8.1 should have the necessary drivers inbuilt for up to 6th Generation Intel Skylake Hardware.

For Windows 7 a utility has been made which adds USB 3.0 Drivers and Storage Controllers to a Windows 7 Bootable USB and is supported on up to 6th Generation Intel Skylake Hardware. See Windows USB Installation Tool. You may however still need to load SATA preinstallation drivers during the Windows setup see here.

For Windows Vista thankfully things have improved and they can be loaded via a USB flash drive. For more information about preparing and loading these see Downloading and Preparing and Loading SATA Drivers.

For Windows XP the setup only allows SATA drivers to be loaded via a floppy drive and the F6 screen passes pretty quickly. Its not recommended to use Windows XP but if you really want to load it, I advise steering clear of a floppy disk. Its best to slipstream Service Pack 3 and the SATA drivers to the XP installation media see Slipstreaming SP3, IE8 and SATA drivers to Windows XP Installation Media.

Note: If you have successfully installed Windows already you do not need any preinstallation drivers.

Microsoft Office

At this stage I usually install Microsoft Office (optional). This is only viable if you have Office 2007/2010 or a standalone installer for Office 2013/2016. The WSUS Offline Update can be used to patch both Windows and Office hence time is saved if Office is installed alongside Windows before patching Windows.

Service Pack or Build

The latest service pack and version of Internet Explorer for your version of Windows should always be installed before loading any system drivers for maximum stability! I have found this make a huge difference with Windows installations but don't see any other guides recommending to do things this way. 

Windows 8.1 (Variant A)

For best results up to date installation should be used as provided in a Download a Windows 8.1 OEM and Retail with Update 2 .iso.

Windows 8.0 has Reached End of Life and is not supported by Microsoft or these Guides.

Windows 7 SP1 and IE11 (Variant B)

A list of recommended standalone updates post Windows 7 SP1 are available here. These should be installed before any system drivers and before connecting to the internet. You can also use the WSUS Offline Update.

Windows Vista SP2 and IE9 (Variant C)

Windows Vista has Reached End of Life and is no longer supported. It was not a popular OS and is not commonly seen today. You can also use the WSUS Offline Update to patch a Windows Vista installation but bare in mind it is unsecure to use online as it has reached End of Life.

Windows XP SP3 and IE8 (Variant D)

XP has reached End of Life and is no longer supported by Microsoft. Its an OS needed for a lot of legacy applications however an Unofficial 4th Service Pack including all Windows XP Updates is available from Softpedia:

Installation of Windows XP is recommended via a Virtual Machine opposed to the use of ageing hardware see Installation of Windows using a Virtual Machine.

Dell System Drivers

Note for the following drivers make sure the driver extracts and a setup.exe launches. If the driver extracts and no setup.exe is launched the driver has simply extracted and not installed. You will need to open the folder where the driver has extracted to and launch the setup .exe.

Dell System (Notebook/Desktop) Software – Under System Utilities

Use the latest version here.  For more information describing what Dell System Software does see here.

This utility is not needed for Windows 8.1 or 10.

Chipset Drivers – Under Chipset

Your system will have either an Intel (most Dell systems) or ATI chipset. Install the Intel Chipset Installation Utility (or AMD equivalent) before any of the other drivers. Then install any of the other Intel (or AMD) chipset drivers such as Management Engine Interface.

You may also have some USB 3.0 chipset drivers (Windows 7) and in this case these should be installed next.

There may also be a card reader driver e.g. Realtek, Ricoh, O2 Micro. The card reader may also be found seperately under a Removable Storage category.

Free Fall Sensor – Under System Utilities

This is mainly just present for newer laptops. The free fall sensor is designed to help prevent data loss from the hard drives which may be caused by dropping of the unit. For more information about the Free Fall Sensor see here.

Sometimes Dell will list the Free Fall sensor under the Chipset category.

Intel Matrix Storage Manager/Intel Rapid Storage Technology Applications – Under SATA Drives and/or CPU

Not all systems will have this. Note there are the drivers and the applications. The applications should increase system performance.

If a full installer isn't present then it is likely the preinstallation drivers (see Downloading and Preparing and Loading SATA Drivers).

Video Driver – Under Video

Generally there are several variants for Video Driver e.g. Intel/ATI(AMD)/nVIDIA. In addition for Desktop PCs in particular there may also be different variants of ATI(AMD) and nVIDIA cards sold with the system. Ignore any for TV tuners under the Video category at the moment.

Some of the newer laptops have switchable graphics and require the Intel driver to be installed first then the corresponding nVIDIA/ATI video driver for full performance. There may be a few variants of graphics cards for a laptop and you must select the correct ones.

In desktops if there is no dedicated graphics card in the card slot, then they have the onboard (generally Intel driver).

In desktops if there is a dedicated graphics card in the card slot then generally it is the ATI(AMD) or nVidea driver). Generally there are several variants of graphics card per desktop model and you need to pick the correct one. The latest driver from the ATI/nVIDIA websites generally offers increased functionality.

There are in general variants of video cards present in Dell systems. If you are unsure identify it using the hardware IDs see Checking Hardware IDs in the Device Manager in Windows Vista, 7 and 8.1.

Modem Drivers – Under Communications

Drivers for Modems are often natively included in Windows 7/8.1.

Modems are obsolete and not present in newer systems; for newer systems if modem drivers exist, they may fail to install as a modem is not present in all configurations and absent in most.

For older Windows XP systems it was critical to install the Modem driver before the audio driver otherwise you encountered audio issues.

Network Ethernet Driver – Under Network

This usually mentions Ethernet/LAN/Broadcom/Realtek in the description. Sometimes Intel, Atheros but the latter two can also be the wireless card.

Many newer laptops are being sold without an Ethernet port to save space and rely on the wireless cards only.

Touchpad – Under Input

This is for laptops only. There are 4 main brands of Touchpads used in Dell systems:

  • Synaptics
  • Alps
  • Cyprus
  • Elan

See Dell Touchpad Drivers where I have attempted to list Dells compliment of drivers, it may be worth looking at your systems FTP page for best results.

Note there are multiple issues with Windows 8.0/8.1 and touchpad drivers; its recommended you try out the latest driver. If that doesn't work then take the next latest one until you get best results.

Audio – Under Audio

Ensure you install any audio drivers before audio applications. Generally the drivers have the name SigmaTel/IDT/Realtek. There is generally little to none variants for the audio driver for each model. This is for the standard onboard integrated audio which 90 % of Dell systems use.

For the other 10 % (mainly but not exclusively higher end desktop systems) an optional Creative Soundblaster may be installed. In Desktops with dedicated soundcards you will observe additional audio outputs in the card slots (at the base of the desktop). There will likely be a driver available but you may be able to get a later driver from the Creative Website.

There are sometimes also Creative applications available for the onboard audio (even if Creative don’t make the audio component).

TV Tuners/Other Video (If applicable) – Under Video

Many systems don't have these and are only added via customisation.

Wireless Card – Under Network

Not present for all older Desktops but most that come with Windows 7 or later will have a wireless card included. There are generally several variants of Wireless Cards and you will need to pick the correct one. If you are unsure identify it using the hardware IDs see Checking Hardware IDs in the Device Manager in Windows Vista, 7 and 8.1. See Dell Wireless Cards as I have listed most of the hardware IDs and latest drivers for the Dell Wireless Cards.

Bluetooth – Under Network

Bluetooth is standard for most new systems, in fact for some of the really newer systems it is integrated with the wireless card so there is no need to worry about a separate driver.

In some of the older models it was optional so not all these systems have a Bluetooth card. For older drivers there is sometimes a audio dependency on the Bluetooth driver which is why this is listed after the audio and not beside the wireless card.


Some Bluetooth drivers integrate heavily into Windows Explorer in particular the older ones. For this reason Windows Vista drivers usually don't perform well on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 drivers don't perform well on Windows 8.1.

Most of these older drivers are Broadcom and covered by the Broadcom Bluetooth Update for Windows 8.1. A subset are Toshiba Bluetooth cards and Toshiba did not provide Dell with a new driver. These cards branded Dell Wireless 350/360 should be ripped out and replaced with a Broadcom card branded Dell Wireless 355 if used with Windows 8.1.

Hint: After installation of the driver restart your computer. Toggle the wireless/bluetooth switch off and then on (usually the wireless switch is [Fn] + [F2] unless a dedicated switch on the side is present). When its turned back on, some more Bluetooth drivers will install.

There are in general variants of wireless/bluetooth cards present in Dell systems. If you are unsure identify it using the hardware IDs see Checking Hardware IDs in the Device Manager in Windows Vista, 7 and 8.1. See Dell Wireless Cards as I have listed most of the hardware IDs and latest drivers for the Dell Wireless Cards.

Keyboard/Mouse Drivers – Under Input

There may be additional input drivers if you purchased a non-standard keyboard for a desktop e.g. a wireless or Bluetooth keyboard. If using a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse install the keyboard/mouse drivers after the Bluetooth driver. If your keyboard/mouse is Logitech branded you should install the latest version of Logitech Setpoint.

Dell Quickset or Dell ControlPoint – Under Applications

Dell Quickset is for the power settings and Fn keys. Usually this is for laptops only. These include the onscreen volume/brightness meters.

For some newer Latitude (E Series)/Mobile Precision Workstations Dell Quickset was replaced by Dell ControlPoint. If you cannot locate Dell ControlPoint System manager which should control the volume meters on these models then use the following ones here:

  • R312259 A21. Version 1.7.10000 Update Package Windows 7 64 bit
  • R301919 A19, Version 1.7.00000 Hard Drive Version Windows 7 64 bit
    • R312260 A21, Version 1.7.10000 Update Package Windows 7 32 bit
    • R301915 A19, Version 1.7.00000 Hard Drive Version Windows 7 32 bit

Webcam Driver – Under Input

For most systems the Webcam Driver is natively included in Windows 7/8.1.

Most desktops won't have a webcam driver or will use a dedicated Logitech or Creative webcam which can be downloaded from the perspective vendors. Note for desktop systems with a webcam integrated into the monitor, the webcam driver may be found bundled with the monitor driver. Installation of the monitor driver will install the webcam. If the monitor has a driver it will be listed separately from the computer and one will have to select the monitor on the Dell ftp website.

Mobile Broadband Drivers – under Communications

Most users don't have these but the drivers are there for the users that do.

Other Drivers

These are the main drivers and I have tried to give a basic guide to cover all systems. There will of course be some other variants from model to model and customisations within the same model such as mobile broadband cards, TV tuners and other drivers depending on your systems configuration.

There may also be security drivers for the business Latitude and Optiplex series.

The check for any missing drivers is via the hardware IDs see Checking Hardware IDs in the Device Manager in Windows Vista, 7 and 8.1. You can post your model number and version of Windows e.g. Windows 7 64 Bit aswell as the hardware IDs on the Microsoft OS forum if you need help.

There are a number of other drivers such as the CD/DVD firmware. These can be updated if you wish but I would recommend leaving these alone. Sometimes if these updates go wrong, things seriously break. If you have no problems with any of these devices then leave them be. You may look through Applications to see if you find anything else useful.

Naturally some of these drivers/applications such as Dell Quickset for power/mobility are designed for Laptops only and are thus not needed for Desktops.


48 thoughts on “Driver Installation Order – Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

  1. almost two days i am trying to get a clue what is going on and why i can't find/install proper driver ??!!??
    dell inspiron 1521, service tag: 797Y83J, WinXP-32

    1. XP is at End of Life and hence should not be installed:

      This guide hence does not have much support for Windows XP.
      Its time to upgrade to Windows 7 64 Bit and the drivers are here:

  2. Phillip – XP is much more useful for music and audio software than the heavily-latency-prone DPC / abstraction from hardware on Windows 7. I've got a Core i3 2.4 GHz here having up to 4% of CPU just to handle 'Interrupts'/DPCs.

    That's actually a MASSIVE amount of CPU to dedicate to something that used to be done in hardware, at the chipset level, by far older chipsets, right?

    It also creates I/O latency and conflicts. This is how Microshaft have DECIDED to 'design' their children's OS… which I use daily, but am still angry at yet another poor design decision by a big corporation, led not by engineers but by accountants…

    By the way, thanks for the good info, but your advice to install the LATEST generic Dell System Software and such, has caused me to get a serious problem with my fresh Windows 7 install. I've had to do a clean re-install, the event log was FULL of serious warnings and such. I really don't like Dell's latest software…
    Oh, but for the brain-dead consumers, it DOES have a redesign of the GRAPHICS for the interface (at a cost of much CPU and RAM, no doubt, for a simple set of software toggle switches – pathetic).

    What a bunch of w4nk3rs get employed by the industry today, is my conclusion…
    They should try a job they're capable of, like designing simple children's toys, perhaps…

    Sorry, I'm in a bad mood – but this is due to people taking the money to do a job, having the brazen gall to pretend they're capable of it – and NOT being so. Plenty of unemployed skilled people WITHOUT the (Self-selling, self-marketing ability) 'brazen gall' but WITH the skills and humility to produce good designs.
    Shame capitalism encourages ANYTHING that makes for a good quarterly result, rather than longer-term good results from good design in the first place.

    Sorry you and me both have to work to guide innocent users and IT techs through the problems created by others – especially by the lack of proper DVD installation media with new laptops (whilst being forced to pay the Microsoft Tax).


  3. Hi Philip, Dell's recommended installation of drivers following a clean install of Windows can be found here: Your installation order, especially early on, is different than Dells, including the loading of SP1, IE 11 for Win7, and MS Office, prior to loading Dell System Software and the Intel Chipsets. Why do you recommend doing this rather than following Dell's recommended order?

    Do you also recommend doing all of the Windows and Office updates prior to the installation of DSS and Chipsets?

    Thanks for your help! I am not dissatisfied with my recent re-installation of Windows, Drivers, & Programs on my desktop (especially since it took place on an SSD this time and works quite well for the most part), but it seems to me certain programs, like Outlook, used to be a little more stable (and I am always looking to make my computer as reliable as possible).

    Kindest Regards,

    980 Optiplex
    W7 64bit
    16 GB RAM
    500 GB SSD
    Office 2010
    USB 3 PCIe added

    1. Sometimes there are conflicts with major OS upgrades and system drivers which severely impact the systems performance. For this reason I recommended installing the Service Packs in particular before the system drivers. If you look at Dell's description of Dell System Software it also mentions the System Software should be installed after the Service Pack:
      I've came across a lot of problems with driver installation before Vista SP1 and 7 SP1. One example I had was a friends Inspiron 1501, he had problems and the performance was dreadful so I clean installed Windows Vista but didn't have time to install SP1. He then got SP1 from Windows Update and the same problems returned. We then clean installed, updated to SP1 and then installed the system drivers and it ran like a champ. I've seen similar cases on the forums for Windows 7 Service Pack 1. It doesn't happen to all systems but certainly a small enough amount that its worth recommending to install Service Packs before drivers. Most Windows installation guides don't have such recommendations.

      Going through installation of Windows and then Office and then applying all their updates offline without any non-Microsoft software will reduce these problems and it will also reduce issues with Windows Update. Finally it will also ensure the computer is patched with all the security updates upon first connection to the internet. Windows 7 and Office 2010 after SP1 have about 200 updates and the WSUS Offline Update can save a lot of time. We have been quite disappointed Microsoft never released Windows 7 Service Pack 2 with native USB 3.0 Support. WSUS Offline Update does the best job of patching Windows 7 before driver installation.

      These sets of guides have been modified to address these small issues unlike the official Dell documentation and are designed to give the maximum performance. Probably your installation media already contained SP1 so it was already installed with Windows so likely your system is performing fine and you don't need to reinstall. If you look at my Windows Reinstallation Guide I also prefer securely wiping the hard drive before beginning Windows installation, this ensures no Malware survives the Windows format and doesn't reinfect the OS immediately. It also ensures all partitions are wiped which allows Dell Backup and Recovery to work properly on a Clean Install.

  4. Just to be clear, I followed Dell's driver installation recommendations, not yours, and as I said on the Dell Forums, I was surprised to NOT find DSS included on the Dell Driver disk that came with my 980 (especially considering the level of importance they assign to it during a clean install).

  5. Hi Philip, thanks for your reply. I am going reinstall everything according to your suggestions and I'll let you know how it compares to the general Dell directed installation that I have now. I have one question about drivers though (I will probably have more .. :), at the Optilplex 980 Dell Driver FTP Site … .. how do I know which drivers I need and which I don't for my computer? And once I discover that, how do I know which order to install them in, or does it matter?

    For instance, there are six separate downloads in the Chipset section of the FTP alone. Which ones do I need and in which order do I need to install them for my W7 64bit OS?

    Thanks for your help!!

    Kindest Regards,

    980 Optiplex
    W7 64bit
    16 GB RAM
    500 GB SSD
    Office 2010
    USB 3 PCIe added

    1. Look at the versions and dates. You only need the top 2 chipset drivers the other 4 are older versions.

      Driver installation order doesn't matter so much except for OS Updates (Service Pack), Dell System Software and then Chipset drivers.

      This is important because the Chipset driver may be necessary for the other drivers to load.

  6. Hi Philip, I was at Intel's site looking to see if there might be an even newer chipset available when I came upon directions from them that I thought I'd run by you. If you have a second, check out what they have to say about installation order of service packs and their chipsets. Click here: Why do you believe they recommend this order of installation (see below or read on their website)?

    **From Intel's Website: "If you have a fresh install of the operating system on your computer, run the Intel® Chipset Software Installation Utility to make sure the operating system recognizes the chipset components. It is important to run the utility before installing any other device drivers or service packs".

    I'm truly not trying to be contrary by this kind of stuff out to you as I come across it, I'm just trying to understand and get things right before I attempt another reinstall.

    Thanks for all your help!

    Kindest Regards,

    1. David
      I have to disagree with Intel on this one which is rare. Its hard pushed to find Windows 7 without SP1 media these days, so according to Intel all these installations are wrong. The SP and other updates from the WSUS offline update patch Windows with security patches and are therefore hardware independent as long as Windows is installed on the hardware with its inbuilt driver. They should be loaded before anything else for best performance, as it gives the most up to date Windows install. The chipset must be installed before other hardware specific drivers which need the chipset driver installed correctly for the computer to be able to address other hardware. Loading Windows 8, Intel Chipset then updating to 8.1 via the Store and getting Windows 8.1 Update 1 later definitely leads to worse overall performance, you can see this all over the forums. You can also see alot of forum topics on Vista/7 SP1 installation problems. None of these occur via my method of clean installation.

  7. Hello, should I get every driver listed in for example the Video category or just the latest one for Intel, nVidia & Avermedia?

    1. It depends on your system, usually there are video variants. Not all systems have a video tuner for instance. The Intel and NVidia for older systems was an either or, newer systems may have integrated graphics. Make a new post on the Microsoft OS Forum and providing the model, Windows version and hardware IDs if you need more help:

      1. Well mine's a Dell XPS 17 (L702X) (from 2011) with Win 7 Ult OS (currently), nVidia GT550M, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, intel core i7-2630 (8CPUs). Question here: should I install Win 8.1 Pro first then install the latest BIOS & every thing else on the list you've outlined in that order? Or install new BIOS first on current Win 7 then proceed to Win 8.1 Pro (which I doubt is wrong)?

      2. If the Windows 7 install is good, update the BIOS first as sometimes there are enhancements in BIOS updates which help with Windows 8.1 installation. If the install is bad then try updating after.

  8. Hi Phil, the Win 8.1 Pro x64 VL ISO file I downloaded says it's format is 'bootable ISO'. Does that mean I can mount it win say Power ISO, extract the contents to a folder on Drive D & double-click the setup.exe file to install to Drive C:? Because right now I don't have a USB stick large enough for the installation & my BD-ROM drive can't read/respond to any discs so I can't burn the ISO file to a DVD to install Win 8.1 Pro. How do I fix the BD-ROM drive or find the proper drivers for Dell XPS 17 (L702X)? I've look on some forums but nothing concrete & it's becoming a hassle & I might have to live with a laptop with a dead optical drive. Help.

    1. Its best to just buy a $10 8 GB USB flash drive from the likes of Amazon which is large enough.

      The optical drive is falling into obsolescence and many systems now ship without one. Even those which have one may be unable to boot from it with the new security technologies; secure boot and UEFI.

      Windows explorer in 8 and 8.1 can mount the .iso and you can begin the installation. You won't be able to absolutely clean install… and will get a Windows.old folder.

      Updating the firmware of the optical drive may help fix its issues but sometimes firmware updates break things, given the state of your drive its worth a try. I don't have a guide for an optical drive but have one for a SSD, the procedure is more or less the same:

      1. I'm not sure if you understand my predicament but I just said I don't have ANY flash drive & I can't get one cos it's holidays & stores are closed, don't have much cash to spare for one, banks are closed & don't have a new ATM card AND my BD-ROM combo drive isn't reading any discs. I can't stand another day using Win 7 Ult & want to install Win 8.1 Pro asap so I'm just gonna go ahead & extract the ISO file to a folder & install from there. Besides I'm not in US or EU for that matter!

      2. As mentioned a clean installation from a USB flash drive will lead to the best performance.

        Its not recommended but use 7zip to extract the .iso to a folder directly on the C drive and begin the install from there.

  9. I should copy extracted folder to the C: Drive & install from there? Why not copy to Drive D: & install to Drive C? When Installing Windows I think one has the choice of installing to whichever Drive, in this case C:. Well If I go with what you say, does that make it a clean install? as opposed to copying to D, installing to C thus getting a windows.old folder? Just need clarification, I want to make the install this evening on my end.

    1. It depends if D: is internal or external. It should work in either case but theres may be some hassles with an external drive.

      I haven't tried it with the Windows 8.1 installer and as mentioned before I would recommend waiting to get a USB flash drive.

      1. Yes my D: drive is internal. It's a 1TB with two partitions C: & D:. I can't wait any longer cos my system is slow to boot up & I fear there's some malware & registry & driver issues to I need a completely new OS. I still don't know what to do about my BD-ROM/DVD/CD drive, maybe the lens is dead but oh well. One last thing, it's about two things on the order installation after BIOS, it's the Firmware & SATA preinstallation. They're really confusing. I don't know how to go about them even if I try to follow the guide e.g the Firmware for my BD/DVD/CD drive

      2. If you suspect a Virus/Malware, then its better to securely wipe your drive with DBAN. The Windows format may not be sufficient particularly if you retain a Windows.old folder where the virus will remain.

        This will require 2-3 USB flash drives. One to prepare DBAN to securely wipe the system and the other for Windows and perhaps an additional for the drivers.

        I need the hardware IDs for your firmware and optical drive in order to help however I do not recommend updating these right now if you suspect a virus or Malware. If this interferes with the update it can break the hardware.

        The SATA preinstallation drivers sometimes need to be prepared so Windows can write to the hard drive. Dell have this driver listed for Windows 7 and not Windows 8 or 8.1 so likely its inbuilt into Windows 8.1 installation media:

  10. I'm not entire sure it's a virus/malware, it may be me overthinking it. I don't have that many USB flash drive to do a wipe so maybe that'll have to wait.

    I have this 10MB file along with the other 2 SATA files from Dell Website so this should go into the Firmware folder or just normal intel rapid storage in the installation order?

    What about the other 2 SATA files, momentus spinpoint & JMicron? What Folder order?

    Yes the Hardware IDs, confusing somewhat. Are you on G+ now? I uploaded a screenshot of it, it's on my G+ Albums +Uncontrollable Espada

    1. Its best you make a new post on the Microsoft OS of the Dell Community Forums, it will make this much easier to upload pictures and reply to:

      Thats the hardware ID of your 1 TB SeaGate drive, likely you don't have the other types of drives or SSDs also you need to expand the DVD/CD-Rom drives and provide the hardware ID for your optical drive.

      1. You mean you can't view the snapshot? The forum thing is a long stretch, I don't like long stretches & conforming to forum rules & stuff. I just need answers. Just look in my g+ Album photos for both of them. I tend to be extra cautious of what I do that's why I make sure of the facts before making any moves hence my questions.

      2. The point is its much easier for me track the series of questions you have on forums opposed to these comments which have limited tools.

  11. What happens if I copy to ISO contents to a folder on C drive & install from there (setup.exe)?

  12. Hi,

    I own a Dell XPS 15Z and Ive ended up having to buy a retail copy of Windows 7 64bit as data safe recovery basically corrupted and destroyed windows when trying to revert back to factory settings. I have had a successful install of the new copy of Windows 7 and was wondering do I need to update the BIOS or should i start downloading drivers from the system drivers point? Im not hugely tech savvy and really don't want to ruin my computer


    1. Hi Anna
      I recommend updating the BIOS before installing anything else as its the most stable time to update the BIOS and can often lead to enhanced performance. Others go with the philosophy if it ain't broke don't fix it regarding BIOS updates.

  13. Hi Philip,
    Do you prefer using the drivers from Dell's website (since they're probably tested for use in your system), or do you prefer getting them from the original equipment manufacturer (Intel, AMD Radeon, etc.) if they're easily found? Some of the Dell drivers look like they might be a version or two older than the ones from the manufacturer's website. On the other hand, though, I would imagine the drivers on Dell's website are thoroughly tested for the PCs they build, and as a result, they may be more reliable.

    If a hardware device was working properly using a driver installed by Windows, is there any compelling reason to use a newer version obtained from the manufacturer's website?

    Do you, or could you, put all of your Windows 7 re-installation files (Windows ISO, your WSUS Windows updates, and the drivers you need to install) on ONE bootable USB flash drive? Would they fit? Would that cause problems? Good idea or bad idea?


    1. I usually prefer to get some drivers direct from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA. The Dell drivers are usually just rebundled versions and Intel, AMD, NVIDIA may have fixes/enhancements that Dell never tested. Dell only usually look into something after release if theres a serious problem.

      Windows may sometimes install a generic driver and the manufacturers driver will be better than that. For example a display adapter generic driver will give significantly worse performance. On the other hand some manufacturers seize to support a product and the Microsoft driver inbuilt into the latest Windows OS may be the best driver. At every Windows release, more and more drivers are natively inbuilt.

      There are some cases Dell drivers may be more stable for instance in the case of switchable graphics which require an Intel driver and an AMD driver to work together. Things are getting slightly better with AMD support for that type of thing.

      For Windows 7 one separate USB should work however its not recommended.*
      The SATA drivers, WSUS Offline Update and drivers can all go on one USB however.

      * You are installing Windows 7 in MBR or UEFI with SecureBoot disabled (if the hardware supports UEFI). For Windows 8.1 you are installing in MBR or with SecureBoot and UEFI (if the hardware supports UEFI). SecureBoot may prevent the booting of a Windows 8.1 UEFI FAT32 USB if additional things are added.

  14. Philip,
    Sorry to bother you again, but I have more driver questions if you have time.
    I have a new Dell XPS 8700 desktop PC. The relevant, OEM (Dell) installed components are:
    Windows 7 Pro (x64)
    Intel i7-4790 Processor (which, I believe, has Intel HD 4600 built-in Video)
    AMD Radeon R9 270 Video Card
    LAN Ethernet Port
    Intel AC-7260 Wireless (card?) with Bluetooth 4.0

    1.) Is there any harm, or potential degradation of performance, by installing Dell's Realtek 8111E Ethernet Network driver BEFORE installing Windows updates, Chipset driver, and other drivers?

    I had to install the network driver immediately following the reinstallation of Windows because I couldn't connect to the internet (for Windows updates) without it.

    2.) Do I need to install the Intel Integrated Graphics driver (for the onboard video) if I plan to use the AMD Radeon R9 270 Video Card exclusively?

    I installed Dell's Intel Graphics driver from their website, but it's an older version than the one they installed when they built my system. I updated the driver through Intel's Driver Update Utility, but the driver that it installed caused a Blue Screen error. FYI – the BSOD has not repeated since.

    3.) Do I need only one driver for Wireless and Bluetooth, or do I need two separate drivers?

    I installed the Wireless 7260 driver and the Bluetooth 7260 driver from Dell's website, but they, too, are older versions than the ones that Dell originally installed on my system. I updated these drivers through Intel's Driver Update Utility, but the drivers that it installed caused a Black Screen "Unexpected" shutdown. Additionally, the Device Manager > Bluetooth Radio is listing a "Generic Wireless Bluetooth" instead of "Intel 7260 Wireless Bluetooth" as it should.

    Any idea where I can find relatively recent Intel Video, Intel Wireless 7260, and Intel Bluetooth 7260 drivers that work?

    Before I reinstalled Windows, I saved a copy of my original C:\Windows\System32\Driverstore\FileRepository folder. Is there any way to reinstall my original Video, Wireless, and Bluetooth drivers from those files?


    1. The Intel Chipset Device Software is usually recommended to be loaded first in order for other devices to load correctly. If alls working theres no harm,

      The Windows Updates are recommended first so theres no influence of third party software/drivers especially with Service Pack installation.

      The video cards will work together so keep both drivers. Try the Intel one here:

      There should be both a wireless and a bluetooth driver. See here:

  15. Philip…. After a fresh reinstallation of Windows 7 Pro x64, what is your recommended setting(s) for Microsoft's "Device Installation Settings" feature? My choices are:

    1.) Yes do this automatically.
    or 2.) No,let me choose what to do:
    2a.) Always install the best driver software from WIndows Update
    or 2b.) Install driver software from Windows Update if it is not found on my computer.
    or 2c.) Never install driver software from Windows Update.
    or 2d.) Replace generic device icons with enhanced icons.

    Would you choose one before doing Windows Updates and then change it to a different setting after the updates are finished?

    I'm confused by this feature and the choices that are available.


    1. I usually update Windows fully and then install the system drivers. I usually have option 1 set. What model of Dell is this?

      1. My Dell is a XPS-8700 desktop. I bought it 3 months ago, so it's fairly new.
        My setting for Windows Updates is "Check for updates, but let me choose whether to download and install them"…. but I wasn't sure which setting was best for the "Device Installation Settings" feature.

        My first thought (for Device Installation Settings) was "Yes, do this automatically," but I questioned that idea because I didn't want Windows to install drivers on top of the ones that I install from Dell's website.

        Does this setting apply mostly to plug-in devices (keyboard, mouse, portable hard drives, monitors, etc.) or does it apply to built-in devices too (wireless card, bluetooth, card readers, etc.)?

        I think my initial Device Installation setting after Win 7 reinstall, but before Windows Updates and driver installation, was "Never install driver software from Windows Update." But now I'm questioning that choice because I have a lot of errors listed in Windows Error Reporting and Event Viewer (Eventvwr) and I'm thinking that, maybe, those errors are attributable to my Device Installation Setting.

        I think I'm going to reinstall Win 7 again, and start over, in hopes of reducing the errors in Windows Error Reporting and Event Viewer….. and I was wondering which Device Installation Setting you thought was best.


  16. Good afternoon,
    I used these wonderful directions recently to reinstall 7 on my Dell laptop. Now that I'm going to upgrade to 10, my question is this: Once installed, do I need to reinstall drivers/utilities as you have written in this post? Are they obsolete?

    1. See here:
      You shouldn't need to redownload and reinstall all the drivers. Windows 10 will likely get what you need from Windows Update.

      I tend to like to Clean Reinstall Windows 10 after the initial upgrade however to get maximum performance:
      You may need to install some drivers after the Clean Reinstall but Windows 10 will get most of them from Windows Update automatically.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me.

        I understand that the drivers will download automatically — which is great. What about things like:
        – Dell System Software;
        – The Motion Sensor;
        – Chipset
        – O2 Micro Card Reader; and
        – Quick Set?

        Will they download? Do I still need them?

        In addition, I have also installed things like:
        – The Diagnostics Utility;
        – My Dell;
        – PowerDVD;
        – Roxio Burn; and
        – Webcam.

        Will these download and install automatically also? Do I need them?

        Lastly, I read (months and months ago) that some third party software would not work on 10. Is this still true? Will I need a new Kaspersky? Office (it's 2010)? Is there a list or do I go through each software's website?

        You're the best. Thanks,

      2. Its a bit hit or miss..
        The Dell System Software I installed on some Latitude D series for the Docking station. The Docking station doesn't work correctly with Windows 10 (no undock when going to shutdown) but it can be physically undocked without giving a BSOD now.
        The FreeFall/Motion sensor, install the Windows 7 drivers.
        Intel and Microsoft are working in particular well together and most Intel drivers are inbuilt or automatically obtained via Windows Update. The Intel Chipset Installation Utility should be inbuilt to Windows 10 and installation of the old driver should tell you have a newer one installed.
        Install the Windows 7/8.1 Dell Quickset.
        You will need to check your device manager for the wireless card and graphics card.
        The O2 microcard I think also has an inbuilt driver.

        My Dell is obsolete and is replaced by Dell Support Assist:
        This is optional.

        Dell Webcam Central is not supported for Windows 8.1/10 as there is a Camera App inbuilt and hence Dell felt no need to make it compatible with newer Windows. Personally I would recommend the free version of Debut instead:

        PowerDVD and Roxio DVD programs are notorious for not working after OS upgrades. Personally I would uninstall them and install VLC player:
        For CD/DVD burning the inbuilt features of Windows 10, allow one to open a .iso and burn a .iso or make a CD/DVD. These technologies are falling into obsolescence however. You can also install ImgBurn (advanced install, don't install unwanted software).:

        The diagnostics utility (for an old system) can be made into a bootable CD/(low capacity USB):
        Office 2010 will still work.

        Security software you will want to be careful. They will boast compatibility with Windows 10… and claim that the inbuilt security in Windows 10 is not enough…

        Microsoft will however claim that Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever…
        Personally I just use the Windows 10 Inbuilt security and Malwarebytes' Antimalware:
        I've had no problems so far but I am a bit more careful with my systems than the average Windows user.

  17. Hi, I have a dell Vostro 3700 running windows 8.1 64 bit and my bluetooth doesn't work. I even tried with a usb dongle, but still doen't work: it can't find anything, The hardware Ids are the following:


    and for the usb dongle :


    What can i do?

    thank you in advance

  18. I'm installing your download "XP Home SP3 x86" to my Dell Inspiron 1100. Thank you for providing safe software. I burned your ISO to a DVD. Your XP Home ISO does not self install as does an XP Pro ISO. So, if someone does try to install your XP Home ISO, tell them to be persistent. Power up, hit F2, move the CD drive to the top of the startup order. Restart. Wait for the DOS message to "hit any key" if a reinstallation is desired. Hit any key. Wait for the DOS message to "hit enter" if a clean install is desired. Hit enter. Then wait patiently. It appears that dellwindowsinstallationguide loads all drivers first. That is appreciated, as my existing Win 4 installation has ports but no drivers for its Ethernet RJ-45, thumb USB-A, WiFi PCMCIA, and all pci devices. Next the ISO asks about formatting; I gave it permission to wipe out my ancient FAT system. Formatting is running at approximately 1 hour for a 1990s Dell laptop with a 2017 solid state drive. The SSD is formatted and Windows install is starting at 8:13 pm. Time is now 8:55 pm and Windows XP seems to be installed. It did not ask me for my activation code. There was a Win 4 activation code on the computer, so perhaps Win 6 used that old activation code rather than asking about an XP code. Drivers have been installed for many devices in Device Manager such as USB (thumb drives) and PCMCIA (WiFi card), but not Ethernet, multipmedia audio, pci modem, or video controller. I can install those with a Dell Driver download from the Dell Support page. I can install SP4 from this page. I'm happy.

  19. Greetings Sir,

    I'm unable to access the video, "Video Unavailable. This video is private"


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