How to Reinstall Windows - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Most problems in Windows can be fixed without reinstalling Windows. Here’s how to address 98 percent of the major issues that tech support people and amateur computer consultants tell you requires a major reinstallation of your PC’s operating system. Before heeding their suggestions, consider these points:

Most problems in Windows can be fixed. There are marvelous tools you can use to help recover, restore, and return Windows to an operable state. A computer’s operating system is its soul, and rarely do you have a need or a reason to replace the thing, especially for trivial or passing reasons.

Only horribly damaged operating systems need to have Windows reinstalled. The only time you truly need to reinstall Windows is when the operating system has been terribly damaged. For example, deleting a given number of files in the Windows folder, or perhaps a computer virus or corrupt program deletes a swath of files necessary to Windows. That kind of damage can only be fixed by reinstalling Windows.

There’s no need to reinstall Windows to “refresh” the computer. Someone once said that it’s a “good idea” to reinstall Windows to keep the computer fresh. “Poppycock!” If you reinstall Windows, you also have to spend lots of time online reloading updates and patches. The benefits are nil, especially given that disk tools exist to remove the problems.

If you insist on reinstalling Windows, it’s a relatively easy operation: Start your computer with a Windows disc — either a system recovery disc or any Windows disc. Obey the directions on the screen to install Windows.

If you have a backup disc handy, you don’t need to reinstall Windows: Simply restore the data from the backup. You might have to start the computer with the Windows installation disc and then choose an option to run the Restore program. For example, the System Recovery Options window contains an item for running System Restore.