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Vista Networking / Formatting / Reinstalling questions
Firstly, this is all on Home Premium 32bit, for the record. My computer is accessing the net via ethernet, through a switch, to a gateway computer, as do all the other computers on my network (including another Vista 32bit machine) and the problem is isolated to my system.
A few weeks ago I noticed that sometimes, webpages wouldn't load up for me. IE would show that 'this webpage cannot be displayed' error and Opera would do pretty much the same thing, always the same websites. Very few sites would work (usually, my TV guide and google and one or two others if I was lucky). On the sites that did work, usually it was just the actualy html page, no images on the site would load and no CSS styles, so my browsing was limited to black and white pages, and like 3 of them.
I'm a pretty patient and mellow guy so this didn't really bother me for a couple weeks but after it didn't solve itself like so many other computer problems, it began to annoy me, so I resolved to find out what was going on. I've noticed that basically when I turn on the computer I've got about 15 seconds to load up as many webpages as I can, and after that 15 seconds no new sites will load. Maybe every hour or two I get a new window in which I can load webpages but it's a very short window.
I didn't think it could possibly have been my firewall (OneCare) since the original pages still worked fine, and OneCare works on the application level anyway, and also the pages that chose not to work were always random. Regardless I disabled the firewall and HEY! all was good! For about a day or two.
So I uninstalled the firewall entirely, which didn't fix it, I turned off Windows Defender, didn't fix it. I was out of ideas by this point so I figured I'd just format because what can't be solved by formatting?
Which leads me to my next question: my copy of Vista is an upgrade version, so it needs to go over a copy of XP. But installing Vista over XP in the first place invalidated the XP key (or so I'm lead to believe), so how can I reinstall it? Can Vista be put on a non-validated copy of XP? I've seen conflicting reports, people having to trick Vista into installing itself... apparently some of the methods are illegal, but I don't see why I would have paid all this money for an OS that I can only install once. Has anyone ever tried to format and reinstall their Vista Upgrade install? Any advice appreciated!
tl;dr: How I format+reinstall Vista Upgrade edition?