FreshStart Your Own PC
Replacing the drive in your PC has never been easier! Skip the hours of installation and setup of a traditional drive replacement by using FreshStart Automated Drive Replacement Tool. Our DIY automated software makes it easy to image your new drive, install brand-new, up-to-date versions of Windows and other select software, plus copy over your files, favorites, and settings to the new drive.
For a complete breakdown of the FreshStart process, be sure to check out our User’s Guide!
Still have questions? Check out our FAQs!
Ready to get started?
Check out our DIY video, which goes over each step of the FreshStart process, from purchasing your drive to adding those finishing touches. You can also read each step of the process by clicking through the tabs below.
THE DIY FRESHSTART PROCESS
STEP 1: BUY YOUR KEY
This summer, our FreshStart Automated Drive Replacement Tool will be available at the following online retailers:
You will also need the following:
- A new HDD or SSD
- SATA Drive Case, Cable, or Drive Dock
- Tools for Drive Installation
- A working PC for downloading software and imaging the new drive
STEP 2. DOWNLOAD THE SOFTWARE
Now that you have your FreshStart License Key and you’ve ordered the supplies you need, you can prepare your work station. Start up the PC you’ll use to image your drive and click on the box below to install the FreshStart Imaging Tool.
STEP 3. DOWNLOAD THE WIM IMAGE
With the FreshStart Software installed, you can now download the image you will need for your new drive. You will need to know the operating system, the operating system version, and the bit type of the PC getting the new drive. Not sure which image you need? Check out our User’s Guide to learn how to find the information you need.
Select the WIM Image you need from the list of available images, then click “Begin Downloading Images.” The time it takes to download an image is affected by your Internet speeds, so you may wish to leave while the file is downloaded.
Once the download is complete you may exit the Image Downloader, and close the Imaging Tool. You will need to wait until your new drive and assorted materials arrive to move to the next step. Not sure if you downloaded the appropriate image? Don’t worry! You can reimage your drive as many times as needed for 90 days.
When your new drive arrives, if you have the Imaging Tool installed and the WIM Image you need downloaded, you can begin the imaging process immediately.
Start the Imaging Tool. First, turn on the PC that has the Imaging Tool and WIM image installed. When it gets to the desktop, start up the Imaging Tool by double-clicking on the desktop icon. Install any updates as needed.
Select Your Image Settings. Go to the Image Settings section of the program. Here, select the Windows OS, OS version, and bit type for the WIM image you previously installed. You’ll see a box labeled “UEFI.” By default, this box is unchecked. Select this box if you are imaging a drive for a newer computer (Windows 8 or 10) that starts up in a secure or UEFI boot. Otherwise, leave it unchecked.
FreshStart. This is our premier service that includes the virus scan and data transfer. If you’re going to connect your old drive to your PC to migrate your data and settings over to the new drive, select this option. This choice is selected by default.
Start Fresh. This is the option that allows you to create a brand-new Windows profile with new installations of popular software like Internet Explorer, Skype, and iTunes. No data is transferred, but you can always try to manually recover data after the FreshStart service.
You will also see an Install Drivers option. This option lets the program know to grab any drivers it finds on the old drive once it’s been connected. If you think that the drivers may be corrupt or you are copying your files from an old PC to a new one, this box can be unchecked to avoid copying over unnecessary drivers.
Write Image to Disk. Now that you have your settings in place, it’s time to image your drive. Connect the new drive to the imaging PC, whether you’re using a USB to SATA cable, a drive enclosure, or a drive dock. Once the drive is recognized by the program, it will pop up in the list of available drives. Select this drive, then click the “Write Image to Disk” button.
A format warning will appear, letting you know that any data on the connected drive will be erased. Click ok, and the imaging process will begin. The time it takes to image your drive depends on your imaging PC specs. A good system setup can take a few as five minutes. At this point, you can leave the drive to image. Check back every ten minutes or so to see when the drive is complete.
STEP 5: INSTALL YOUR NEW DRIVE
When the imaging process is complete, you can now safely install the drive. Power off the PC that is getting the drive and unplug it from power sources. Then, you are ready to replace the drive.
Tip! If you’re unfamiliar with how to replace the hard drive in your PC, we recommend going online to the manufacturer’s website for instructions. You may also be able to find a video guide on YouTube that shows you the exact process you will need to follow.
Once the drive is in place, it is safe to turn on your PC. While the computer is turning on, we recommend installing the old drive into the drive enclosure (if purchased) so you can safely set it aside while the program starts. If you are using a SATA to USB cable, we recommend storing the old drive in the static-free bag your new drive arrived in until you are ready to connect that old drive.
When the computer turns on, the computer will boot into the Windows desktop. The FreshStart program will automatically start up.
Once the program loads, it will stop on a screen that states “Awaiting the old drive.” This is your cue to connect the old drive. The program should then recognize that the old drive is in place, and it will begin a forensic analysis of the drive to ensure that the data can be read.
This forensic analysis takes about 10-15 minutes for the program to determine whether or not the drive’s data can be read, so you can leave the PC alone for a bit to work on something else. Check on the progress bar to see what’s going on. When the progress bar reaches 40%, the program has determined that the old drive’s data is readable. The FreshStart program automatically begins the virus and malware scan as it transfers the files over.
Note: If there are issues with the old drive or the new drive installation, this is when error messages appear. Please visit our website’s FAQ section below for assistance.
Once the data transfer is complete, the program will end on a screen prompting you to disconnect the old hard drive. The program will restart the PC multiple times in order to load each profile on the computer. So, for example, if you had three Windows user profiles on your PC, the PC will reboot three times.
STEP 10. FINALIZATION
When the program has finished rebooting into each Windows profile, it will stop on its respective Windows login screen. All profile passwords have been changed to “password” for ease of use. You can log into the profile of your choice to get to the Windows Desktop, at which point the “After a FreshStart” PDF will open. An Icon for this document will also appear on the desktop for easy reference. The After a FreshStart Guide explains that some additional installation may be required, and things like passwords for Windows will need to be changed, and your Wifi password will need to be re-entered.
If you have a licensed program that was not reinstalled as part of the FreshStart process, your program key has been saved for you in a text document on your C drive. The After a FreshStart guide will show you how to locate this file.
If you chose the Start Fresh option, you will see a similar After a Start Fresh Guide appear on your desktop. This guide includes steps on how to try manually pulling data from an old drive.
NOTE: For Windows 7 users, you will need to manually activate or reactivate your Windows 7 Key. Windows 8.1 and 10 will activate automatically as soon as they connect to the Internet. For Windows 7, follow the steps of activating a Windows key:
- First, locate your Windows 7 License Key. The 25-digit product key can be found on a sticker on the PC.
- Open the Windows Activation by clicking on the Start
- Right-click on Computer, then go to properties.
- From there, click on Activate Windows Now. You’ll see an option to change your product key.
- If you did not have Windows 7 previously, you will need to purchase a new key.
- When you are prompted, enter the 25-digit product key, and click Next.
After that, the key is active and you are all set!
What should I do if my FreshStart drive won't boot after I install it?
If you receive a “No Bootable Device found,” “Boot Failed,” or “Missing OS” error message after installing your FreshStart drive, this means that your computer is trying to boot in secure mode (UEFI). Fortunately, it’s an easy fix!
All you have to do is reimage your drive. When you go to the image settings, check off the “UEFI” box, reimage the drive, and then reinstall it. Once you turn the PC back on, it should run smoothly.
What should I do if FreshStart says it cannot read my old drive?
If you see the screen above, it means that your old drive is damaged and could not be read. The FreshStart program allows people with damaged drives to activate the new hard drive you just installed including the Windows operating system, Adobe Reader and Player, Norton Security and other standard software. This means that you will be starting over with a new hard drive and new software, almost like you just bought a new PC
Your data files on the damaged drive will not be transferred. This is a better and more economical alternative than buying a new PC, and once the FreshStart is concluded, you can attach the old damaged drive and see if any of the files are visible and can be transferred by the drag and drop method to your new drive.
To FreshStart your PC without data transfer, simply click OK when the error message appears on your screen during service. After you click OK, the FreshStart program will continue processing, and your system will typically complete the service in 15 minutes or less.
What about my applications and other software like Office or TurboTax?
The FreshStart program provides automatic installation for the following programs:
- Internet Explorer
- VLC LAN Player
- Adobe Reader
- Adobe Player
- Eset Smart Security
- The selected Windows OS
- Google Chrome
- Office (if it finds a valid install / license key)
All other software applications such as TurboTax, QuickBooks or other programs will need to be reloaded. All of those programs data files however, are transferred and kept in their appropriate folders. If your other program had a license key stored in your computer it has been placed in a folder for you. To see how to recover these license keys click on the “After your FreshStart” tab and open the “After Your FreshStart PDF”.
What should I do if my PC's USB ports do not work after the service?
Our software pulls all of the drivers necessary for things like activating your USB ports. In rare cases where a driver has not been pulled, what you will need to do is go to the website for your PC’s manufacturer. On there, you will find all of the up-to-date drivers that you need to download. If you are unsure which drivers to download, please contact the PC manufacturer for further guidance.
What should I do if I cannot find or read my Windows 7 License key?
You need a Windows key to activate your Windows OS and allow you to use your computer. If you cannot read your Windows 7 key on your PC, you will not be able to FreshStart it. You will either need to find the key, or you will need to purchase a replacement key. These are usually available for about $30 online.
I installed my FreshStart drive and the PC stopped on the Windows login screen.
If your PC stops on the login screen, please enter the word “password” to log in. The FreshStart program should automatically start as soon as the desktop loads.
I got a "Freshstart Failed" or "Drive Damage" message during my FreshStart, what should I do?
On occasion, you may come back to a PC and find an error that says “FreshStart Failed” or “Drive Damage” warning. In most cases, the FreshStart fails when its attempt to read the old drive times out. This is usually because the old drive is failing or dead—the FreshStart program might get stuck trying to read a bad section of the drive and thus cannot progress farther in the data transfer process.
In these cases, what you can do is complete the FreshStart process by creating a Start Fresh profile. When the process is complete you can try to manually drag and drop the files over to the new drive, or, if this is for another person, they can try this themselves when they get the PC home.
If you need to, you can exit the program. Disconnect the old drive, then click on the FreshStart icon on the PC’s desktop to relaunch the program. Give it a few minutes, and when it prompts you to connect the old drive once again, simply click on the “Start Fresh” button to finish without the data transfer.
What if my data does not fit onto my new FreshStart drive?
If you receive an error message telling you that the FreshStart drive is not big enough to hold data from the connected drive, what you will want to do is offload some of those files from the old drive to match your new drive’s capacity. You can use a cloud service or a storage device to hold the extra files, or even remove files completely to save up some space.
My FreshStart Key shows no uses left!
FreshStart keys are linked to the drive they’re imaged to, plus the imaging machine used to image that drive. If you made a mistake while imaging the drive the first time, you can simply reimage the drive. Do this on the same machine you used to first image the drive so that you have 90 days to reimage is as many times as you need. Once those 90 days are up, or if you want to use a different PC to image the drive, you will need to purchase a new FreshStart key.
If you purchased a key, have not yet imaged a drive, and your Imaging Tool is telling you that the key cannot be used, please email email@example.com
I have feedback for the FreshStart developers.
We’re constantly working on improving the FreshStart service to ensure that our customers are getting the best experience possible. Please send your comments and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org with “FreshStart Feedback” in the email’s subject line.
What should I do if FreshStart does not recognize my old hard drive?
If you see the screen below and you have already connected your old hard drive, it means that you did not properly connect the old drive and the USB/SATA cable to your PC. Make sure that the drive is securely connected to the SATA connector and try plugging the USB plug into a different USB port on the PC. Once properly connected, the FreshStart process will continue automatically. If it does not, it’s possible that the PC’s USB port is not working, or that the old drive has failed. In these situations, you will need to use the “Start Fresh” button in the bottom left corner, and no data will be transferred during the process.
What should I do if my computer has more than one hard drive?
Some desktop computers have more than one hard drive to boost performance. One drive holds the operating system and allows the computer to boot, while the other drive acts as a giant flash drive and is used for data storage.
If you know which of the drives in your computer has your Operating System, this is the drive you will need to replace with your FreshStart drive. Your computer will automatically boot up with the FreshStart drive, then prompt you for the old drive once the program starts up. You can connect your OS drive and then FreshStart as normal, and all of your files will automatically be scanned for viruses and malware.
If you are not sure which of your drives has your OS, remove them both. When you’re prompted to connect your old drive, try one of your hard drives. If the drive is connected but the system still says “Connect the old drive,” that means that the drive you connected was your storage drive. Unplug the old drive and try the other one. Once the drive with the OS is connected, the FreshStart program will continue automatically. In this case, your files will not be immediately scanned since they are no plugged into the computer. However, once you reconnect your storage drive and try to access those files, Eset will detect the files and scan them to ensure they are safe to open.
Can I FreshStart a unit with a RAID setup?
No, Freshstart service does not support raid system setups. Our user guides also appropriately address this topic and can give you more detail on what the service entitles.
If you did not mind breaking the raid setup, the Freshstart service would still be possible on that machine. You would just image the new drive with your selected windows version and place the new drive into the laptop/desktop of choice. Once at the Freshstart HD application, it will ask for the old drive. If you want to transfer data and settings from the old drive, you can connect the old drive (in your case the raid setup mirrors the data onto both drives so you could use any one of the drives as the old drive) via USB and walk away.
After the data and settings have transferred you will not have a raid setup anymore. If you do not want the data and settings from the old drive, you can click the START FRESH button (circle arrow on the bottom left of the application), which will build a new Windows user profile with the featured software products pre-installed to get up and running in about 15 minutes. In this service, no data is transferred and raid setups will not exist anymore.
I'm having trouble downloading the FreshStart WIM image because of my Internet connection.
In order to download the Imaging Tool and the FreshStart WIM image you need, a stable Internet connection is required. Fortunately, you do not need to enter your FreshStart license key to download either file.
If you have access to another computer with a better connection (such as a work computer, or a friend’s PC), we recommend using that to download the files you need. You can always copy the files to a portable storage device, then copy them to the appropriate file locations on your imaging PC.
What should I do if my PC's USB ports do not work before the service?
The program requires at least one working USB port to connect the old drive so that it can recognize and transfer any data it finds. If there are no working USB ports, you will still be able to FreshStart your customer’s PC by creating a new profile using the “Start Fresh” button in the lower left-hand corner. However, you will not be able to transfer data from the old drive to the new FreshStart drive. You can create the new profile, and if you can get your USB port working at a later time, your customer can manually transfer the files over by dragging and dropping them into place.
What if I cannot reactivate my programs after the service?
Our program pulls all of the license keys found on the old drive and puts them into a text file on your C drive. When you go to reinstall a program, you can use this license key to reactivate it.
If you run into difficulties reactivating any of your programs, please contact the software company for further assistance.
I had to Start Fresh my PC. If my drive is failing, should I try to manually grab data anyway?
The FreshStart program requires specific sections of the hard drive to work in order to be able to grab drivers, data, and license keys during the data transfer process. If your drive is failing or has bad sections (called sectors), it may make it impossible to FreshStart your computer with a data transfer. However, if some of those sectors are still functional, you may still be able to pull data from the “good” sections of the drive after the service is complete.
What should I do if my computer is stuck on the loading screen when I boot up after installation?
On rare occasions, it’s possible that the computer will get stuck and will not load once it gets to the BIOS part of the boot up process. Microsoft reports that this delay is part of the installation process, and once the installation is complete, the PC will start as normal on subsequent boots.
If the computer seems to be stuck on the loading screen after getting past the manufacturer’s screen, please allow up to 5 hours for the OS to complete the installation. For more information on this issue, please visit the Microsoft forums.
If, after 5 hours, the computer still cannot boot, there may be a hardware issue with the machine, such as a broken motherboard. These PCs cannot be FreshStarted.
What should I do if my Window's Key did not activate after the service?
For Windows 7 users, you will need to manually type in the Windows Key found on the bottom or back of your PC. Read the “After a FreshStart” guide to learn how to do this.
For Windows 8.1 and 10 machines, the key should automatically activate once you connect the machine to the Internet. If the key is inactive, you can find your Windows License Key saved by FreshStart in the C registry. You should see a text file called “Product Keys From Old Drive.” Open this file, and you will see the License Key listed, which you can then copy and paste to manually reactivate Windows.
In cases where you have gotten a FreshStart Data Transfer for a new PC, you may see two files. Open one to try activating the key found. If it doesn’t work, open the other file and use the other key instead.
I have not received my FreshStart key!
If you are having difficulty purchasing your FreshStart key, please contact the retailer’s customer service team for assistance.
If you have already purchased a key, please check your email’s spam box to make sure that the email did not get flagged as spam. You may also want to safelist FreshStart in your email’s settings.
If you have done this and the email still has not come, please contact the retailer who sold you the key for further assistance.
What if I cannot get the FreshStart to work?
If you are having a problem with your FreshStart service and your issue is not covered in the User’s Guide or the FAQs, you can contact us directly via email at email@example.com.
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