With the passage of time, your computer may lose its stability and performance because of the endless number of programs, hardware, drivers, plug-ins etc., which we install intentionally or unintentionally. In such a situation we always want our computer to be the same as it was when you purchased it. Trust me it will take less than an hour to take your system back to its initial stage. Now you would wonder what will happen to your precious data and files which are there on your computer. Will they be all lost? The answer to both these questions is ‘No’. There are many ways and methods to reinstall, repair your operating system without losing any of your data files. In this post I will discuss the same. Though you will not lose your data in this case but it is always wise to backup the precious data before proceeding further. You can take a backup of important files which you cannot afford to lose on an external hard drive depending upon the size of data which you wish to back up.
Once you have the backup you can proceed with any of the below mentioned methods.
Parallel Installation – This can be done if you have more than one partition on your existing hard drive. You can install a completely new copy of Windows on the new partition. This way you will be installing a new operating system, but you will lose all your installed applications and you would need to reinstall them again. Your data files, however, will stay intact at their original locations.
Repair installation – Boot your computer using the operating system bootable disk and then when you get the options to Install or Repair, select ‘Repair’. This will restore all the operating system files and your data and all the installed applications will remain intact.
Complete Re-Install – This is the best way, but would need little more expertise. Installation would be done using a bootable disk and in this post I am giving the steps for reinstalling Windows XP without losing the data.
Step 1: Boot your computer using the Windows XP disk.
Step 2: Start Recovery Console and rename the Documents & Settings folder. Exit out from the recovery console and reboot again from the disk to get the installation options.
Step 3: Select Install and make sure that you do the installation without formatting the selected drive.
This way you will reinstall the entire operating system and your data will stay intact in its original location which can then be accessed from the newly installed operating system.
System Recovery – Many computers offer a non-destructive mode of System Recovery in which the entire operating system and the applications are restored from the recovery partition but all the user files remain untouched. This is also one of the best ways to get your computer in its initial stage without losing any data. Recovery options an shortcuts are different for different computers so make sure that you search for the correct option on the Internet.