How To Reinstall Windows Without Losing Your Data

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reinstall windows without losing data programsThe 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.

repair windows without losing files

Press F8 to continue past the Licensing Agreement.

Windows_XP_Licensing_Screen

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.

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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.

FATS Wizard - reinstall windows without losing programs

Tell FAST that you are on the Old Computer, then click Next.

FAST_Computer_Selection

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.

FAST_Drive_Selection

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.

FAST_Wizard_Disk_Creation

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.

FAST_Load_Settings

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?

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Comments (14)
  • Data Recovery XP

    Use this data recovery xp software and get back all the lost files of Windows XP immediately back.

  • Data Recovery XP

    For recovering the lost and corrupt files of Windows XP, better make a use of Data Recovery XP Software. With this efficient tool you can have the entire files back within minutes. So get try this software and have the benefits of recovering lost and damaed files.

  • Nik

    Brought my Dell back from the ashes of the ultimate crashdown after installing SP3.

    Many thanks for your help, Jorge!

  • Brian

    Does this work for Vista too?

    • Jorge Sierra

      Vista has some different repair options and prettier screens:

      Startup Repair
      This option attempts to repair any problems preventing you from booting Vista.
      System Restore
      If you have system restore enabled, you can restore your system to a previous restore point.
      Windows Complete PC Restore
      Restore your computer with a backup that was previously created (only available in Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise)
      Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool
      Tests your memory to see if it has gone bad.
      Command Prompt
      Provides a command prompt to allow you to copy, remove, rename files etc.

      If ever you do have trouble with Vista, I would first try the Startup Repair and then System Restore.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.