Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Can I install W7 on top of W8.1 (it becoming windows.old)?

  1. #1


    Posts : 8
    Windows 8.1

    Can I install W7 on top of W8.1 (it becoming windows.old)?


    Hello all.

    I decided to post this here because it's more about windows 8.1 behaviour rather than windows 7 installation.

    So the only drive in my pc is a 500GB blue HDD. I currently have windows 8.1 and a lot of important files that I do NOT want to loose (mostly steam games, music and a few tv shows). I have about 50GB free, so formatting is not an option. I've been having some drivers problems with windows 8.1 (along with a few viruses that got in without my knowledge) so I would like to go back to windows 7.

    What I want to do is install windows 7 without formatting and let all of what I have now (windows 8.1) become a windows.old folder, so then I move my files (that I do NOT want to loose) out of windows.old, and then delete everything that's left in windows.old.

    My question is: Can this be done? If so, do I just choose custom install, choose my drive, accept the warning that it will become windows.old, and that's it?

    If it can't be done, can I create a partition of all my free space and install W7 there? What would I have to do with boot flags and all of that?

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    The process you're talking about is an "upgrade install" in which the current Windows version is upgraded to a newer Windows version, keeping the apps and settings intact.

    What you want to do is a "downgrade install" -- keeping apps and settings intact but replacing the current Windows version with an older one.

    I do not believe this is possible.

    You're talking as if everything you want to retain is kept in separate, simple "files" but sadly, this is not the case. Apps, during their installation, write lots of information to lots of different directories, including adding stuff to the "registry" (which is a collection of files known as "hives"). You're not going to be able to simply save the current "files" and copy them back after a new Windows installation.

    What MIGHT work, because it's designed to do something similar, is using LapLink's PC Mover app. That is designed to "migrate" apps, data, and settings from one PC to another. If you used the option to save your current stuff to a file, you might then be able to copy off that file, install the new Windows version, and restore from that file.

    Even if that did work, however, there's no guarantee that an app that works OK today under Windows 8 would work OK under Windows 7 -- with no changes.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 8
    Windows 8.1


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Phelps View Post
    The process you're talking about is an "upgrade install" in which the current Windows version is upgraded to a newer Windows version, keeping the apps and settings intact.

    What you want to do is a "downgrade install" -- keeping apps and settings intact but replacing the current Windows version with an older one.

    I do not believe this is possible.

    You're talking as if everything you want to retain is kept in separate, simple "files" but sadly, this is not the case. Apps, during their installation, write lots of information to lots of different directories, including adding stuff to the "registry" (which is a collection of files known as "hives"). You're not going to be able to simply save the current "files" and copy them back after a new Windows installation.

    What MIGHT work, because it's designed to do something similar, is using LapLink's PC Mover app. That is designed to "migrate" apps, data, and settings from one PC to another. If you used the option to save your current stuff to a file, you might then be able to copy off that file, install the new Windows version, and restore from that file.

    Even if that did work, however, there's no guarantee that an app that works OK today under Windows 8 would work OK under Windows 7 -- with no changes.
    I'm very sorry for not writing clearly what I want to do.

    I have, right now, windows 8.1 with tv shows, steam games and few other things (files, not programs or apps) all in one single partition. My ideal scenario would be: insert windows 7 disc, have the installation take ALL of my hard drive (as it is right now), put it in a folder (windows.old) and install windows 7 in my hard drive.

    I understand that I won't be able to keep my apps or settings - that's fine. I'm willing to re-download all my programs. I do NOT want to loose my tv shows (.mp4/.mkv files), my music (.mp3 files) and my steam games (steam lets you verify the game integrity cache and fix the registry).

    The reason I'm asking this is that I'm not sure windows 8.1 will let the windows 7 installation do that. I'm not planning to upgrade or downgrade like you would when W8 came out that you would upgrade from within W7 and keep all your stuff. I want W7 to take all my files in C:/ drive, put it all in one folder, deactivate the windows 8 boot thing, and install W7. Then, once I'm in W7 I can take my .mp4, .mp3 and steam folders out of windows.old and delete everything else (basically, W8.1).
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    You should be able to boot the Windows 7 install DVD and do a parallel install where 8.1 goes to Windows.old. Keyword is should. Stuff happens and you could lose everything.

    If this was my system, I would get an external USB 1TB hard drive ($50) , and do an image backup using Macrium Reflect Free, of the current 8.1 setup, then proceed with Win 7 install, not formatting. If all goes well 8.1 will be in Windows.old. If not everything is on the external hard drive so you lose nothing.

    Think about holding off to the end of the month then get the free upgrade to Windows 10.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 8
    Windows 8.1


    Quote Originally Posted by Ztruker View Post
    You should be able to boot the Windows 7 install DVD and do a parallel install where 8.1 goes to Windows.old. Keyword is should. Stuff happens and you could lose everything.

    If this was my system, I would get an external USB 1TB hard drive ($50) , and do an image backup using Macrium Reflect Free, of the current 8.1 setup, then proceed with Win 7 install, not formatting. If all goes well 8.1 will be in Windows.old. If not everything is on the external hard drive so you lose nothing.

    Think about holding off to the end of the month then get the free upgrade to Windows 10.
    Thank you for your response. Unfortunately buying another HDD is not an option right now.

    Now let me ask this: Could I make a 30GB partition and install W7 there? Will I override the boot from W8.1 that way or will I have problems?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    I use Macrium Reflect all the time and the limitation of doing a backup using that is, while you can "mount" the backup file and recover individual files from that, what you can NOT do is restore individual apps from it. So, you would not be able to use that to reinstall apps.

    In contrast, using the PCMover app, you can do exactly that -- back off apps and restore them, individually. What might NOT work is restoring an app from one version of Windows to an older version. The restore might work, but even then, the app might not run.

    If you install Win7 using a different partition, after you reboot, you are probably only going to see Win7. At that point, there would be no way of transferring apps from the old Win8 installation to the new Win7 installation.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    No matter how you decide to install, there is always the chance something will go wrong and you end up login all your data. Adkitedly unlikely but it does happen and when it does, people always wish they had backed up their data first. If your data is important to you then hold off installing Windows 7 until you can afford to get one.

    You should be able to install Win 7 to a 30GB partition and I believe Win 7 will overlay the Win 8 boot. If so you should be able to fix it by booting a Win 8 install DVD and running Startup Repair.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

Can I install W7 on top of W8.1 (it becoming windows.old)?
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