| By Lincoln Spector |
In his July 14 Top Story, “Win7′s no-reformat, nondestructive reinstall,” Fred Langa explained how you can quickly and easily restore Windows 7 without losing your programs, drivers, and data.
That was great advice! (I could kick myself for not including it in my April 7 article, “Fix that problem without reinstalling Windows.”) But there are times when a complete, “destructive” reinstall is necessary — you just have to know when.
A fork in the reinstall road: Upgrade or Custom
Whether you choose the nondestructive or destructive reinstallation path comes early in the process. A few prompts after running setup.exe, Windows will ask: “Which type of installation do you want?”
Choose Upgrade for the nondestructive method. As the name implies, Upgrade is intended for migrating to a newer or better version of Windows. But as Fred reveals, it can also be used to refresh your current Windows 7 installation.
This option retains all applications, user information, and system settings. When the process is complete, Windows is new but everything else is the same. Your antivirus program is still up-to-date, your applications all work, and your documents and other data files are right where you left them.
Custom, on the other hand, gives you a fresh, new copy of Windows 7 without the old baggage. It doesn’t actually wipe away your original files; rather, it moves them to a folder called C:Windows.old. You can recover your documents, music, and other data from there. You will, however, have to reinstall your applications from scratch and re-create all your settings.