How to Reinstall Windows – Introduction

The most common reason for people to want or need to reinstall Windows is due to their PC, Laptop or Notebook starting to become increasingly slower in operation – to the point where they just can’t put up with it any longer!

Most of us will put up with this for as long as possible – as reinstalling Windows and all of your software programs etc will take some time and preparation – and there are a number of things you should try first (we’ll go into these in a bit) before ‘biting the bullet’ and admitting defeat.

This is just a simple fact of PC ownership – the once superfast responsive beauty will unfortunately eventually start to slow down and may begin to alert you to missing DLLs and errors during boot up due to registry corruption etc.

This slowing up will be compounded by frequently installing and uninstalling various bits of software and ‘bloat’ ware that you may be tempted into installing during your day to day internet browsing.

Maybe you have become infected with a Trojan horse or the registry has become corrupted or is full of settings for old programs no longer present on your PC.

One way to ensure that you rid yourself of a virus, worm or Trojan horse that just won’t seem to go is to do a hard drive format and ‘clean’ install of Windows.

To find out how to re-install your version of Windows visit one of the following pages for detailed ‘step by step’ instructions complete with screenshots.

Do please carry on reading this page for further relevant information before you carry on and reinstall Windows – there is some good advice here that you’ll want to know about 🙂

How to Install Windows XP

How to Install Windows Vista

How to Install Windows 7

Be aware though that reinstalling Windows should not be attempted if you know that you may soon be needing your PC for some important task etc – plan to undertake this task when you have sufficient time, say over a weekend and let everyone else know that the PC or laptop will be out of action for some time whilst you do this. 

How to Reinstall Windows – Putting Off the Inevitable!

If the thought of reinstalling Windows is filling you with dread and you’d really like to try and put it off a while longer (hey, you know eventually you really are going to have bite the bullet and do this don’t you!) there are a few things that you can try first.

First off, you have made sure that you have performed a full system virus scan haven’t you?

It’s all too easy to keep aborting the full scan and just rely on a quick background scan but you really must do a regular deep files and folder scan at say 1 week intervals to ensure you have weeded out any nasty’s lurking in the corners of your hard drive.

Personally I like Norton Internet Security 2011, the latest version, as it does a great job of constantly updating the virus definitions automatically in the background and scanning emails etc ‘on the fly’ and the latest versions do not seem to slow down my PC noticeably which versions previous to 2010 seemed to.

Other good offerings are available from AVG, Avast and BitDefender and I would recommend you get the full ‘Internet Security Suite’ versions which are available from all of these manufacturers.

Secondly, download and run Spybot ‘Search and Destroy’ from – this little program does a great job of protecting your Windows operating system registry and weeding out spyware etc.

Thirdly, you should also download Adaware from which will search your machine for spyware, keyloggers and malware etc. downloaded on to your machine during your Internet browsing activities.

Use of the above three programs will help remove spyware, malware and Trojans etc and free up your PC from the burden of running these programs in the background which are preventing it from running smoothly.

You should run these software tools on a regular basis to keep your PC running smoothly once it is running correctly.If the above hasn’t helped, or at least not enough to keep you happy, then the next move will most definitely be a full reinstall of your operating system.

Now in my opinion, the only way to get that brand new super quick operation back is to do a ‘clean install’ of your chosen operating system rather than an upgrade or repair of an existing installation.

By all means take this opportunity to upgrade to Microsoft Windows 7, the very latest operating system from the Microsoft Empire – it really is a very fine operating system and is a good replacement for both Windows Vista and Windows XP.

But don’t be tempted to do an upgrade if you are thinking of updating your operating system – you’ll simply be installing that lovely new operating system over the top of a sluggish setup and you will not get the best out of your PC – be smart, do a clean install of your new operating system. 

How to Reinstall Windows – First Steps

Before setting out to reinstall Windows, whether your current version or a newer version such as Windows Vista or Windows 7, you will be well advised to spend a little time in preparation now so that reinstalling Windows is as easy a task as possible. 

How to Reinstall Windows – Backup!

Yes backup those files and folders! A clean install will wipe your hard drive directory of all data and unless you have partitioned your hard drive or provisioned for a separate drive to store all of your data and files you will need to back these up first.

What to back up?

Let’s see…..

My DocumentsDesktop Files and FoldersMy MusicMy PicturesVideosEmailBrowser bookmarksContacts

…and anything else you think you would be lost without!

And when you do your backup, whether on to an external drive, network drive etc. then always re-confirm that you can access your data before assuming all is safe and sound.

Don’t forget that some files such as Outlook .pst files are hidden by Windows by default so when searching for them you will need to tell Windows Explorer to ‘Show hidden files and folders’ by highlighting the radio tab found in ‘Tools’ > ‘Folder options…’.

Check through all of the software that you use and look to see where they save their files and settings and make sure you have backed these up.

Locate all of your Microsoft license keys and installation disks.Make sure that you correctly uninstall all software that requires online activation such as Microsoft Office, iTunes etc. using ‘Add/Remove Programs’ so that the license is freed up ready for reactivation during reinstall.

Export your website bookmarks, and also feeds and cookies if you wish to.

Note that Outlook Express (rather than Outlook) stores emails and contacts separately.

To copy your contacts go to File > Export > Address Book and then use the Address Book Export Tool dialogue box to export your contacts by selecting the ‘Text File (CSV)’ option.

A great program called ‘Magical Jelly Bean’ can be used to obtain a list of product keys for your Microsoft products and to print them out. 

How to Reinstall Windows – Magical Jelly bean

This great little freeware program will probe your PC and delve into the registry to retrieve your Product keys used to install Windows and lots of other applications.

It’ll also work to retrieve from an unbootable Windows configuration!

Also obtainable from the same guys, although not freeware, it’s a more powerful utility that can scan far many more programs, product keys such as Adobe CS2 to CS5, Windows 7 etc. and save in lots of different formats.

It also has the facility to scan remote PCs!

Use ‘Belarc Advisor’ to scan your PC and to create a list of all of your installed programs, hardware etc. and print it out for reference during reinstallation of Windows. 

How to Reinstall Windows – Belarc Advisor

Examines your PC and produces a detailed profile of all installed software, hardware antivirus etc and works on all Windows platforms from Windows 95 up to the current Windows 7.

This great PC audit utility is free and easy to use and a real boon for building a log of all of your PCs installed hardware and software 

How to Reinstall Windows – DriverMax

DriverMax is ‘the’ place to download all of your latest drivers for all Windows operating systems including Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP for both 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

Create an account, and then once you have downloaded all your updated drivers you can export all of your drivers to a folder for a handy backup.

No more searching around for all of your drivers the next time you need to reinstall Windows!

DriverMax will also give you a full report of all installed drivers.

Use DriverMax to backup all of your PCs device drivers so that you have them to hand during reinstall and don’t have to spend extra time scouring the manufacturer’s websites searching for relevant 

How to Reinstall Windows – XP, Vista and Windows 7

See the following pages for a detailed explanation of performing a ‘Clean Installation’ of your chosen Microsoft operating system.

Make sure that you do a full virus scan of all of your files and folders before you back them up!

You may also want to save an image of your desktop so that you can easily set up your new installation as you like it.

How to Install Windows XP – A great operating system and still capable of sterling performance as long as you make sure to install Service Packs 2 and 3 during or after your Windows XP reinstall has been completed.

How to Install Windows Vista – Despite all the moans and groans this operating system isn’t all bad. True it’s not quite up to the standard of Windows XP and Windows 7 but with Service Pack 1 installed it’s still a reasonable operating system.

How to Install Windows 7 – The very latest operating system from the Bill Gates empire and what a fantastic operating system it is! In our minds, Microsoft have `got it right` again this time and reinstated their position with an operating system worthy of replacing their older Windows XP flagship.

Once you have reinstalled Windows you should find your boot times are significantly reduced and general running is much smoother and faster. 

How to Reinstall Windows – Post Installation

Once you have installed Windows make sure to visit the Windows Update website and download all the latest updates, security updates, driver updates, patches and hotfixes etc.

All of your drivers should be installed next and you can get these easily from the backup copy that you made earlier.

Now, before you go any further and connect to the Internet, make sure that you have your Firewall turned on and your Antivirus protection running – it can take as little as a few seconds to become infected without your full arsenal of protection!

As a note here for those of you running Firefox and Thunderbird with add-ons and plugins – you can do an easy backup of this using MozBackup which is freeware.

Once you have got your PC back up and running smoothly once again a good plan to give you a quick and easy option for returning your PC to its former glory next time would be to take an ‘image’ or ‘clone’ of your setup so that in the event of your PC slowing down or refusing to boot in the future you can just ‘reinstall’ this cloned image and all will be back to normal without the need for the long process of reinstalling your operating system, drivers, software and files etc.

How to do this?

There are a number of programs out there that will do this for you but the most well known and probably the best are ‘Norton Ghost’ and ‘Acronis True Image’.

If you make sure to store all your files and folders on a separate partition which you regularly back up for security of your data then you can create an image of your operating system and not worry about the fact that your files and folders are constantly changing.

A good tip here for you all is not to store all of your passwords and login data etc in a file accessible to all on your computer hard drive – it’s just too easy for a hacker to get hold of!

By the way, Microsoft Security Essentials is a great free alternative to Norton, AVG and Avast etc for antivirus protection. Together with Microsoft’s in-built firewall you have good protection against hackers and viruses and the like all for free!

To find out how to re-install your version of Windows visit one of the following pages for detailed ‘step by step’ instructions complete with screenshots.

How to Install Windows XP

How to Install Windows Vista

How to Install Windows 7