The Windows XP installation CD includes an option to repair an existing Windows XP installation. Using this option allows you to reinstall Windows without losing the files, personal data and programs you already have on the system. To take advantage of it, just place the CD into your CD or DVD drive on your PC and reboot the computer.
During the installation you will be prompted if you wish to use the recovery console to repair a Windows installation. The recovery console is rather limited in its use, so just press the Enter key to proceed with the installation as you would normally.
Press F8 to continue past the Licensing Agreement.
The next screen should display a prompt asking you if you wish to repair an existing installation. Select your Windows installation (most likely it is the only one) and press R.
This will begin the repair and reinstallation of Windows. The installation will copy files to the hard drive, reboot the system, and then proceed just like a normal installation. Follow the prompts just as you normally would any normal Windows installation.
When the installation completes, you should still be able to access all of your documents and installed programs.
Full Windows Reinstall Without Loosing Data and Programs
I personally prefer to perform a full clean reinstallation of Windows. With the clean install, the hard drive is formatted and programs are reinstalled. If you want to use this method, you can use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (AKA FAST).
To use FAST, you first have to run it from the old Windows installation. Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Files and Settings Transfer Wizard.
Tell FAST that you are on the Old Computer, then click Next.
Finally, select the location where you would wish to save the files. Portable USB drives were born for stuff like this. Be warned though, the drive may not be big enough. Another option would be to save the settings somewhere on your hard drive first, and then move them over to multiple USB drives or burn them to CDs/DVDs.
Click Next, and wait for the files to be copied. If you have a lot of data, it may take quite a while for the process to complete. Once it has completed, your settings are ready for the new installation.
Once you’ve reinstalled Windows, launch FAST just as you did initially to save your settings:
Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. Click Next. This time when prompted which computer you are using, select New computer. Click Next.
The following screen will ask you if you have a Windows XP installation CD for creating a wizard disk. A wizard disk can be used for loading settings from another computer. In this case, a wizard disk is not necessary since the files have been saved to another location.
Select I don’t need the Wizard Disk. I already have collected my files and settings from my old computer. Click Next to proceed.
Finally, you will be prompted for the location of the files and settings. Select the Other radio button and browse to the location where you saved the files and click Next.
The files and settings will then be copied to the new computer. You may want to install all of the same programs you had on the old computer that you intend to use, before you run FAST. This will help to ensure that your settings will work properly with them.
What tools do you use to reinstall Windows without losing data?