Zoftar FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I use this web-site?
The zoftar.com website has been set-up so that it is easy to use and understand. If you require a complete operating system re-install with drivers, then this can be found on the page that matches the manufacturer and model number of the target computer.
You can find this page by using the pink search bar that is on the top of every page or click the search bar below.
If you require a disk of drivers or a data recovery CD this can also be found the same way. Once you have located your manufacturer and model number page, you then need to decide what type of restore disk you need.
Complete factory reset and restore to factory settings.
To factory reset your computer the first thing you need to have is a valid product key, this is found on your COA. If you cant see your product key and you have no COA you can try the product key finder.
The next thing you need to decide is if there is any data on your system that you want to keep. If there is you can use the free data recovery disk that we supply with every order to take your important data off first.
Once you are sure you have valid product key, then you will need to make sure you choose the correct product as there are many Windows® product types. Make sure that if your COA states for example "Windows® XP Pro" that you choose "Windows® XP Pro", it does not matter what language it is or if its 64 bit or 32 bit, but the actual original product type does matter. Your product key will not work if your COA is for "Windows® XP Pro" and you choose "Windows® XP Home".
The next step is to make sure your computer is set-up to boot from your optical device.
Most computers are already set-up to do this so do not worry about it unless your restore does not start as expected.
The videos below show how to make sure the computer is to set-up to boot from the optical device.
The first video shows how to boot from DVD if the target computer has Phoenix BIOS, the BIOS type is not really important as all BIOS are very similar. The second video is from Toshiba and shows you how to set-up to boot from disk with an American Megatrends BIOS.
How to boot from disk with a Phoenix BIOS.
How to boot from disk with an American Megatrends BIOS.
The final part is to put the operating system recovery disk into the optical drive and reset your computer. Then follow the on screen instructions. There are videos below that show you step by step how to install the main Windows® operating systems.
Remember once you have installed your operating system you will need to then insert the driver disk into your DVD drive.
How to format & install Windows® 10.
How to format & install Windows® 8.1 and Windows® 8.
How to format & install Windows® 7.
How to format & install Windows® Vista.
How to format & install Windows® XP.
What is a COA or product key?
All computers that were supplied pre-installed with the Windows® operating system before the release of Windows® 8, were activated by a using the serial number found on a sticker that was attached to the computer. This sticker was known as the COA or Certificate of Authenticity. The Windows® product key is normally the 25-character alphanumeric string printed on the COA.
Sometimes for some newer laptops the COA may be inside the battery compartment. If you don’t see a COA, and your operating system is NOT Windows® 10, 8.1 or 8 then it’s likely that Windows® isn't properly licensed on that computer and it may even be counterfeit software. (Windows® 10, 8.1 or Windows® 8 users, please see our section for Windows® 10 8.1 & 8 users)
Please note, you do NOT need a product key or serial number to install or use a driver disk or any other products on this site.
The product key finder.
If you can not see a Windows® COA on the base or side of your Windows® 7, Vista or XP computer or maybe it is unreadable, then we still may be able to help. (Windows® 10, 8.1 & 8 customers click here). Try the free Zoftar Windows® product key finder (Zoftar Find It)
Zoftar Find It does not install and is a very small .EXE file which you can delete right after use. You will need the Microsoft.net Framework 3.5 at least to run it, which you will very likely already have.
Only use this if you can not find your COA any other way because manufacturers use bulk disk images and the same product key to active hundreds of computers at a time. This embedded OEM product key number may not be the actual number on your COA and this bulk OEM product key will not active your new install.
What to do if you can not find or do not have a Windows® product key.
The following only applies to Windows® 10, 8.1 and 8. To find a Windows® XP, Vista or 7 product key go here. With the launch of Windows® 8 on October 26, 2012 Microsoft® introduced a new method of activating Windows®. This was achieved by embedding the product key into the computer's BIOS chips. The was done as many product keys were on paper or stickers on the COA and many got damaged lost or even stolen. Using this new method the COA and product key will never get removed or destroyed and the product key will always be associated with the OEM system. If your system was made by a large OEM manufacturer like Toshiba, Lenovo, Dell, Alienware etc... then you will not need to type in a Windows® serial number to activate or install it, Windows® 8, 8.1 and 10 will automatically retrieve it from the computer BIOS and active it. If you still want your actual serial number you can use this Windows® BIOS product key finder to retrieve your product key.
Tick the box labelled ‘MSDM KEY’ (by default it will show the key embedded in the Windows® installation disk, NOT the BIOS key!). Make sure you have the correct key as the embedded OEM product key number is the bulk OEM product key and will not active your new install. Only use this product key finder if you have no other way to recover your Windows® product key.
How to download your product.
Once you have purchased your item, you are redirected to your download area for instant access to your download ISO files.
How to find out if your computer is 32 bit (x86) or 64 bit (x64).
When deciding on what operating system to restore, it is worth knowing that your product key / serial number will work with both 64 bit & 32 bit Versions of your Windows product type (e.g. 32 bit Windows 7 Home & 64 Bit Windows 7 Home). Just to make things a little more complicated, the 32 bit operating system will work on 32 bit and 64 bit processors, but a 64 bit operating system will ONLY work on 64 bit computer, so how can you find out?
Well we have made it easy for you, just run our processor test software, called Zoftar Check IT.
Zoftar Check It does not install and is a very small .EXE file which you can delete right after use. You will need the Microsoft.net Framework 3.5 at least to run it, which you will very likely already have.
How to use the driver resource disk.
After you have re-installed the operating system, hardware like your sound or graphics will not be working correctly. This is because the operating system would of set-up your computer with default or generic drivers that are designed only to operate at minimal levels or may not work at all. A driver is defined as the communication software that interfaces with the computer's specific hardware. Some form of device driver is required for the hardware to operate in any way. Windows® default drivers are designed so that that basic start-up requirements are met, such as being able to see the display. These are not optimized and are very very slow. In cases where the computer is using a default display driver, you will not even be able to see the full screen resolution. Our custom driver disk is one of the most versatile ever released. We think that a driver disk full of compressed, out of date and hard to install driver files is just not good enough. This driver disk will supply you with all the very latest ® device drivers available. Once the disk has automatically set-up your network drivers, and if you have internet connectivity, the system will then also update, replace and remove any old or broken device drivers.
Just put the disk into the optical / DVD / CD drive of any computer with a running operating system, and the will do the rest.
What is an ISO file?
An ISO file is a single file that contains all the data needed to create a physical DVD or CD. These files are easy to download and are supported by many CD DVD writing software vendors.
How to convert an ISO file to DVD or USB key.
Due to the many requests we have now written an easy step by step guide, with everything you need here How To Make A Bootable Windows USB From An ISO. Just follow the easy steps and download the required free software then you will easily be able to convert any legitimate Windows® ISO to a bootable USB memory stick.
Conversely you can use the Microsoft tools as described below.
There are lots of tools around to convert an ISO file to a bootable USB key this .ISO to a DVD or bootable USB key converter is free from Microsoft®.
We think CDBurnerXP is the best free multi language ISO burner available. It is compatible with all Windows® operating systems from Windows® 2000 onwards.
CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multi-language interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include ad-ware or similar malicious components.
Burns all kinds of discs
Audio-CDs with or without gaps between tracks
Burn and create ISO files
Data verification after the burning process
Create bootable discs
A bin / nrg - ISO converter
Simple cover printing and much more
Operating Systems: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista/2008/Win7/Win8/Win10 (x86 / x64)
How to make a bootable USB key from an ISO file.
Due to the sheer volume of people asking this question, and the difficulty in using the the Microsoft tool we have written an article that will guide you through ths process, it is very easy to follow and all the required software is free to download. Zoftar Soiftware How to make a bootable windows USB from an ISO. Its worth noting that we now also have many operating systems and drives available pre-written on USB memory sticks.
Use the Microsoft® Windows® ISO to USB Converter. Lots of detailed information on how to use and install the tool is on the linked page. Alternatively you can just download the tool here Microsoft® Windows® ISO to USB Converter. The tool will convert all versions of Windows® XP, Windows® Vista, Windows® 7, Windows® 8, Windows® 8.1 and Windows® 10. Its worth noting that you can NOT extract an ISO file to a USB key and use it to re-install your operating system. The USB to ISO conversion software actually changes the file format and the way the data is handled on the USB stick. You have to use this tool from Microsoft® if you want to convert an official Windows® ISO into a bootable USB Key