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ChrisC, Computer Enthusiast
Category: Computer
Satisfied Customers: 1686
Experience:  Over 15 years experience as a computer technician.
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Howdie, Is it possible to overlay Windows Vista Home Premium

Customer Question

Howdie, Is it possible to overlay Windows Vista Home Premium to my existing Dell Dimension E 521?
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Computer
Expert:  ChrisC replied 1 month ago.

Hi, my name is ***** ***** welcome to JustAnswer!

What version of Windows are you currently running?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
It's Windows Vista Home Premium with SP2.
Expert:  ChrisC replied 1 month ago.

Okay, in that case by "overlay" I assume you mean to reinstall it without losing your data, is that correct?

Do you have an original Windows installation disc? (This would NOT be a factory recovery disc that came with the computer. It would be a Vista installation disc issued by Microsoft.)

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No I wish I did. Unfortunately it's the Dell factory CD.
Expert:  ChrisC replied 1 month ago.

Okay, thanks.

Well, if you had an original Windows installation disc then you could perform what's called a "repair installation" which just installs Windows on top of itself, like you're describing. But you MUST have an original installation disc to do that.

With only a Dell factory disc your only option, if possible, would be to save your data and attempt a factory restore from the disc.

However, do need to tell you that I'm not at all confident that that would resolve your issue. You said that sometimes the machine shuts down shortly after Windows loads. This does not point to a problem with Windows, but rather it indicates a hardware problem. Just based on your description, the problem could be any of the following:

1. The system is overheating due to a faulty fan or heatsink

2. The motherboard is damaged

3. The RAM or CPU is faulty

Systems randomly shutting down are almost never due to a software issue and are almost always due to a hardware problem.

Considering that you are running Vista, I have to assume that this is an older computer. In that case, I would not recommend investing money into hardware repairs for the computer. I would instead put that money into a new machine.

If you have data on this computer that you cannot afford to lose, and the machine will not stay on long enough for you to get the data copied over to something like an external hard drive, then you can remove the drive and connect it to another computer and copy the data over.

I hope all this makes sense. Let me know what further questions you may have on this.

And before leaving this page, please use the rating box at the top of the page to rate the answer at least 3 Stars/OK Service or better so that I receive credit for assisting you.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thanks for your helpful information. I have been doing research for a new computer. This after at least 70 to 80 hours trying to get the computer to work. I have explored many different options including another online support company, Windows Restore to the last working copy, internet searches, You Tube and today a new internal Seagate Barracuda HD which the computer does not recognize. The last problem has been a puzzling one. I also have two external Seagate 1TB FreeAgent USB internal drives that I have been using as cloned backup drives since I purchased them in maybe 2009. The computer is from 2007. I guess that is a pretty good run of mostley trouble free operation. Anyway I only discovered that the Dell system doesn't recognize them when this trouble started. What I don't understand is that both the cloning software and Windows has seen the FreeAgent drives. I connected one of them to the laptop I'm using and it is identified as a working, cloned hard drive. I have a lot more history of what's been happening but I'll stop here. If you care to share any additional information that might help, it will be greatly appreciated. John A
Expert:  ChrisC replied 1 month ago.

Hi John, thanks and I'm happy to help.

Just based on the information I have, I think the problem is that your motherboard is dying. As you may know, the motherboard is more or less the nervous system of the computer--it's responsible for shuttling data from one place to another and also responsible for making sure that each device can communicate with the rest of the system. Considering that you not only are having the random shut down problems but also are having issues with drives being recognized, then I have little down that the motherboard is the culprit here.

Typically in the in-between time where a motherboard starts to fail and the time where it has failed completely, it can do all kinds of weird stuff. For instance, I had a computer that was in a similar situation and it wouldn't recognize video cards. You could just plug the card in and it acted like nothing was there.

I definitely understand how this kind of thing can be frustrating and, like I mentioned before, I really would not spend any more time and certainly no money on fixing up a computer that is almost a decade old. If you have any questions about what to look for in a new machine, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to help out in any way that I can.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

And please do remember to rate the answer for me before you run. (You can always return to our session and any time in the future to ask further questions on this issue if they arise.)

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi again Chris. Thanks for your offer. I am thinking of another desktop in the $50 0 range. I'm thinking either an HP or a Dell, which has obviously served me very well. I know though from my recent experience that their tech support is horrible both at the website and on the phone, hard to understand their speech. My computing needs are minimal as in no gaming at all. Is the quality of Dell still good or is HP similar, better or worse? I think the HP Pavilion 550-153wb will probably meet my needs or maybe a Dell in the same price range. No all-in-one or laptop. Once more I thank you. John A
Expert:  ChrisC replied 1 month ago.

It sounds like you're basically just looking for something that you can get on the Internet with and maybe type up some documents. Basic computing. Under those circumstances, I think you can definitely get by with $500, especially since you're looking for a desktop which always provides more bang for the buck in terms of performance.

I took a look at the Pavilion you mentioned and it looks like a very capable machine for the price. The i3 process is a solid performer at this price and 6 GB is a healthy amount of RAM. The 1 TB hard drive will also give you a lot of storage.

I also like Dells and, in general, I tend to find that their warranty support is among the best in the business. So I would also look at some Dell systems in the same price range.

Just as a general set of guidelines, I would say these are the MINIMUM specs that you'd want to look for. Obviously more is better:

CPU: Intel Core i3 or AMD quad-core


Hard Drive: 500 GB if you don't think you'll be storing a lot of pictures, music, videos, etc, 1 TB if you do think you'll store a lot of files

Like I said, those are the MINIMUMS that you don't want to go below. Just remember that the better the specs of your new system, the longer it will be before it's outdated and in need of upgrading.

Let me know what other questions you have.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
John A
Good input Chris! Sorry not to have answered you sooner but I have been away from home. I always thought Dell provided good support until now. Maybe it's only good while the system is under warranty. I would like a faster, more powerful system but I'm not sure I would need one. I checked to see what I have now and it has seemed to be adequate but I suppose more is better. Currently I have an AMD 2.1GHz with 1MB of L2 cache, 4GB of DDR2 SDRAM, Video uses 64MB of system memory. The hard drive is 250GB of which only about 150GB is used.
Expert:  ChrisC replied 1 month ago.

Hi again John,

Regarding Dell, yeah, while you're under warranty they're usually pretty good. I can't say much beyond what they're like outside of that period. I generally don't expect to get any support outside of the warranty period for anything I own.

My guess is your AMD there is probably a single-core processor. That's a bit behind the times at this point, but I suppose still useful for very basic tasks. I'd say the same about 64 MB of video RAM. Many video cards today have 2 GB of RAM or more.

Just based on what I know of your needs, I think the HP you mentioned would be a good system for you.

Let me know if you have any other questions on this. And if you have no further questions, just rate the answer at the top of the page and that will close our session out for now.