Non-destructive Windows reinstallation

Discussion in 'Computers, Hardware, and Operating Systems' started by N2IZE, Jun 3, 2007.

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  1. N2IZE

    N2IZE Ham Member QRZ Page

    A relative has a windows XP machine which recently stopped working. It appears that Windows somehow got corrupted. They calledDell (the maker of the machine) and Dell reccomended they do a Windows reinstall.

    Now, since they have a ton of pictures (family photos) stored on the drive which were not backed up they were very worried about loosing them. I removed the drive from the machine, mounted it in a external hard drive enclosure, mounted the drive under Linux as a NTFS partition and I copied the home directories containing the photos and stuff to a high capacity drive on one of my external servers. So now their photos, itunes and stuff is backed up and safe.

    Now comes the next part. I need to remount the drive into the original machine and re-install Windows XP. here's the million dollar question. Can I perform a Windows reinstall in a way that will not destroy the existing home/user directories. This would save the trouble of having to remake the user directories and restore the backed up contents. I know this can be done with Linux installs by not overwriting the partition containing the /home directories. But can this be done with a windows re-install ??
  2. N6HCM

    N6HCM Ham Member QRZ Page

    yes, you can do this ... make sure you don't choose any option which wants to format the disk and you should be good.
  3. K3WRV

    K3WRV Guest

    It CAN be done, but when Windowes gets corrupted, often doing a "reinstall" simply copies the corrupted settings, viruses, trojans, etc. (from some hidden file) into the new install and your problems continue!

    Haven't tried it in ExPEE, but with 98, about the only way to unbreak broken win$ is to reformat and do it right, and then reinstall everything. That doesn't fix everything, unfortunately. Win$ still misbehaves like win$, but at least it misbehaves like Bill Gate$ designed it to., without the corruption. [​IMG]
  4. K3WRV

    K3WRV Guest

    Addendum to my last post:

    Dells (and Compaqs) have a "restore partition" on the Hard drive somewhere that you can find with Fdisk. Unfortunately, Ex Pee doesn't use fdisk, (they use something else that doesn't work as well). If you reinstall Win$ from that partition, I don't think you can control anything about the install. It just puts the machine back in the state it was in when it left the factory, and destroys any partitions you may have added! (Major PAIN!) and reinstalls all the craplets that Dell insists on including in it's distros (free Norton, three day trial of M$ Orrifice, and all that other junk. There was a thread on /. called "how to reinstall XP in 5 days or more" (or something like that) that mentioned a couple of decrapifier programs that would automatically remove those things.

    My earlier post assumed that you were going to use an XP disk rather than the "restore function". I don't think you can save anything if you boot from the restore partition (F-12 at bootup on my Dell from Hell).
  5. AB1N

    AB1N Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is an option in the Windows XP setup program that will allow you to "repair an existing installation." This is probably what you want to try first. If it works, great! If not, you'll have to do a clean reinstall from scratch. Honestly, I can barely stand to go more than about a year without reinstalling XP anyway, just because it gets crufty over time just through regular use, even without falling victim to malware.
  6. N2IZE

    N2IZE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm going to be using a disk to do the reinstallation. Dell set up the drive with a "utilities/diagnostics" partition but, there is no restore partition. Instead they provide a disk to install from.
  7. K3WRV

    K3WRV Guest


    That's probably the same thing as what I'm calling a restore partition, so beware! This is a dual boot Linux?XP box at the moment, and I've told Linux that winSux doesn't exist, so can't do fdisk /dev hdb. YMMV
  8. W6TMI

    W6TMI Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you use the restore partition it will restore as image, you will not have the option to do a repair type install.

    Sometimes it's broken because of a combination driver/registry entry, so that when you re-install, it will keep those entries.

    Sometimes it will fix a problem.

    If they did not have alot of programs and custom settings and such, usually you are better off doing a clean install, the system will run better as it wont have all the extra registry crap that windows seems to collect.

    Also sometimes it's only a specific user's entries that are screw up. If you can logon as someone else, and it works, or crate a new login, then just delete the old.
  9. N2IZE

    N2IZE Ham Member QRZ Page

    How did you convince Linux not to see the Windows partition ? Normally if you do

    # fdisk -l

    as root it shows up everything installed in the machine...
  10. N2IZE

    N2IZE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I got this Windows problem fixed quite easilly. All I had to do was boot up off the Windows XP installation disc, flick through a couple of menus to let the installation program find the existing Windows installation. Once that happened I simply selected the "repair" option to repair the broken/corrupted installation.It worked. It copied over the corrupted files and viola, it's working fine.
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