OK, so your Windows has become unstable enough for you to consider formatting and reinstalling. Don’t worry, Its NOT a BAD thing. There are multiple ways to do this. But first off is saving precious data. To reinstall Windows you only need to format the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) partition containing Windows. If you only have one Operating System (OS) then this partition is the C: drive.
Let’s assume that you had the presence of mind to separate your general storage space from the OS partition (although that is too much to assume for first time or non-serious Computer users). In this case you have placed all your data – documents/files/programs on a separate partition (i.e. there is nothing in your Desktop, My Documents, Program Files (other than the one installed with Windows or some arbitrary files that need to be placed in there by some programs). In this superb situation you already have done 50% of the job.
If you haven’t however then do not tear off you hair as they can be saved. We will use probably one of Microsoft’s greatest toys – the MS DOS!!!! Boot from the Disc and on the first blue option screen run the Recovery Console. Now copy all your precious files to a safe location – external HDD drive, USB pen drive (assuming your BIOS can handle it), or to a separate partition in the system HDD.
Or you could also use a live LINUX distro to do the same. Only problem is that if your system was installed on an NTFS partition then Linux won’t be able to mount the partition by default. You will need console commands for that and since you are requiring this blog to reinstall your system the Linux Console is quite out of your league. Although this is much much simpler than MSDOS.
You will also need to keep all your hardware drivers and essential softwares like media codecs, office, media players near you. If you don’t have them then note down the model numbers and download the drivers from the manufacturer’s website (XP versions).
1. Take your Windows CD/DVD and place it in your drive and then restart.
2. If the system boots from the disc, good, otherwise press ESC (may vary) and choose to boot from the Disc Drive.
3. Windows will prepare the files necessary for installation, WAIT.
4. The first option screen gives you options – Install, Repair or Exit. Press the directed key to install.
5. Accept the End User License Agreement (EULA) by pressing F8.
6. Windows will now inform you that there already is an installation of XP, that it could try to repair it (you could try to repair or else continue to install)
7. Choose the partition to install. C:
8. Formatting options will now come up. Choose to format (NOT quick) with the NTFS if performance is necessary or with FAT32 if you intend to use the drive later on with LINUX.
9. Now, lay back and wait. Windows will copy necessary files to the drive, and then restart. Windows XP will come up, don’t worry its installing.
10. It will ask for your location, time zone, keyboard type (keep it US, if unsure) and your Product Key (assuming your copy is original you can find it in your packaging or on the jewel case).
11. Now just wait and watch.
When the installation completes, it will restart and present you with the first run Configuration options – Whether to connect to Microsoft for latest updates, creating the number of users, etc. Oh, by the way, during installation it will also probably ask you for setting an Administrator password – set one and remember it. Set one even if you don’t want to password protect your account as that’s separate. This is extremely vital and without it XP doesn’t have much of security for system files.
Now clean your former programs as they won’t work (if you install your programs on a separate partition), and then reinstall them along with the system drivers. ENJOY your new WindowsXP……while you can.
I’ll follow up with one for Vista later on.