How to Uninstall Windows Vista

Ready to uninstall Windows Vista? Perhaps the time has come to move on to newer and greener pastures, or maybe you'd rather just go back to Windows XP. There are a few simple steps to follow to change your operating system.

Make Sure You Have Another OS
You can't uninstall Windows Vista if you don't have another operating system. Verify that you have a functional operating system disc for an OS other than Windows Vista, and verify that you have the correct product key. It's worthless to get halfway through the uninstall process and find out your key doesn't work and you don't have an alternative to Vista. Without an operating system, your computer can't run.

Back Up Essential Files
Uninstalling an operating system and installing a new one can cause a lot of problems. You may have to format your hard drive, which will erase all the files on your computer. Back up any essential files to CDs or an external hard drive before you take any steps to uninstall Windows Vista. You may quickly reach the point of no return, and miss out on an opportunity to save your data once you begin the uininstall process.

Can You Revert to XP?
If you've installed Windows Vista on a computer that used to run Windows XP, you may be able to revert to Windows XP without formatting your hard drive under certain circumstances. You can only revert to Windows XP if you have retained copies of your old operating system files. These files are stored under Windows.old. If you do not have a Windows.old system folder, you cannot restore to a prior version of Windows; you must format your hard drive or reinstall your old operating system to overwrite the Windows Vista data.

If you do have the Windows.old file, you can find instructions to uninstall Vista and revert to Windows XP here: Otherwise, you still have a few other options to get rid of Vista and move on to a different operating system.

Installing Another OS
One simple option to get rid of Windows Vista and keep the rest of your files is to simply install another operating system and overwrite Vista. When you boot to a different operating system disc, you should have the option of installing the operating system. If you follow the on-screen prompts to install the operating system, it overwrites Vista data and operating system-specific files.

This option doesn't always work; sometimes your new operating system install may become corrupted, or some of your Vista files may cause conflicts with the other operating system. Especially if you're reverting to a previous operating system, you may want to format your hard drive to wipe it clean and then install the operating system on a clean hard drive.

Formatting Your Hard Drive
If you boot to an operating system disc, you can usually get the option of formatting your hard drive to completely erase all the information it contains. If you want to completely get rid of Vista and start from scratch with a different operating system, this is your best route. Back up any files you need before wiping your hard drive, and then follow the on-screen prompts to format your hard drive. From there, simply install the operating system as normal, and Vista will be gone.

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