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  1. #1
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    A 'no-reformat reinstall' for Windows 8




    TOP STORY

    A 'no-reformat reinstall' for Windows 8


    By Fred Langa

    Win8's Refresh your PC without affecting your files feature lets you rebuild your operating system in minutes. A refresh returns Windows 8 to like-new condition while leaving users' accounts, data, passwords, and personal files intact. But there are a few limitations to consider.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/a-no-reformat-reinstall-for-windows-8 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    Thanks for the interesting article. Can I do this refresh process on an encrypted system (Bitlocker full disk encryption on my system). My PC's been slowing down lately and I don't know why but it's not bitlocker because it was running fine after that was installed.
    Paul

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    Great article Fred. Now that Windows is getting smarter - I think we need to add one more step to our recovery process. Before stating a recovery - check to see if there is an old version of the WINDOWS.OLD folder. If so, consider saving it under a different name before the recovery process overwrites it.
    Mike

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    Many thanks for the article, Fred. A point of clarification about the third party apps removed during refresh: I have Office 2013 installed. This is not a native Win 8 app and was not downloaded from the Windows store. Will Office be removed as part of this process?
    Last edited by cjdahl60; 2013-08-18 at 18:28. Reason: Corrected from Office 2010 to 2013

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    Refesh not so refreshing

    Sorry, Fred, but this Win8 "Refresh" is not such a great thing from Redmond. It removes third party apps! That says it all. At least the Win7 "non-destructive" reinstall leaves those intact, as time-consuming as the OS reinstall is. If a third party app is the problem, it can be removed individually, but to wholesale remove them all, that's worse than before, not better.

    If one of my clients has a troublesome Win7 machine & nothing else works, the non-destructive reinstall often fixes problems. Imagine if I did a Win8 "Refresh" then had to reinstall all their non-MS biz (and/or personal apps) - more hours of work. And just like the Win7 solution, you still have to download ALL the Microsoft updates in place prior to the Win8 "Refresh."

    Another reason to stay away from Win8.

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    A while back I did a refresh and I read the part about apps being removed. I didn't think about it much because I didn't have hardly any, what I call, "apps" installed. After refresh and to my horror I found out Microsoft is now calling apps what I call software or programs. All of my programs were removed. It took me many days to install all my software back.

    Is there a way to easily install software back after a refresh? Or a way to keep it from deleting my programs in the first place?

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    At last count, I have about $2000 worth of third-party software on my computer that is protected by DRM ("activation"). I am TOTALLY confused on how to do a 'complete' reinstall of Windows without having to pay the vendors all over again for another activation key. Only a few companies (Adobe, for example) allow me to deactivate a program so that I can use the same activation key again. Reinstalling third-party program is not a big hassle to me, but how do I regain the 'activation' if the keys are wiped out during the reinstallation process?

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaningGibbous View Post
    A while back I did a refresh and I read the part about apps being removed. I didn't think about it much because I didn't have hardly any, what I call, "apps" installed. After refresh and to my horror I found out Microsoft is now calling apps what I call software or programs. All of my programs were removed. It took me many days to install all my software back.

    Is there a way to easily install software back after a refresh? Or a way to keep it from deleting my programs in the first place?
    Yes, the article says there is. Wait for the upcoming article on making custom system images in Windows 8.

    burk in the above post, asks the same question essentially, and the answer is still, wait for the follow-up article.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2013-08-15 at 23:46.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Quote Originally Posted by burk View Post
    At last count, I have about $2000 worth of third-party software on my computer that is protected by DRM ("activation"). I am TOTALLY confused on how to do a 'complete' reinstall of Windows without having to pay the vendors all over again for another activation key. Only a few companies (Adobe, for example) allow me to deactivate a program so that I can use the same activation key again. Reinstalling third-party program is not a big hassle to me, but how do I regain the 'activation' if the keys are wiped out during the reinstallation process?
    You can simplify everything, simply by using RecImg, which provides a nice, easy to use UI to the recimg command, available in Windows 8, that allows you to create an image you can then use to refresh your system without losing nothing, not even non Metro installed apps.

    Once you have an image, you can use it for a refresh, as explained here.
    Rui
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    Post

    I've just tried the refresh myself (I decrypted the machine first just in case). It has meant almost a total reinstall and reconfiguration of all third party Windows desktop programs. Only the native Metro apps remained, which I couldn't be bothered using as they've mostly (over 90%) rubbish anyway. My system is a Lenovo Twist, and it had a factory-installed copy of Office 2010 trial, but even that was not restored. My Office 2013 Pro (free upgrade fro Office 2010 Pro at the time) was also removed. Sure it kept the .pst files, but the rest of it got suckered out. Had to do a complete reconfig of my 5 mailboxes and signatures for each (I had backups of the siggy data). The refresh was just one step less than a nuclear blast, with similar fallout. It would've been interesting if the article had a copy of the uninstalled programs list... I've added mine here for your info... (slightly edited)

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    A system image will restore whatever it was that broke the system in the first place, won't it? It usually takes a while to recognise there's a problem and that allows time to make a system image of the faulty system. Of course, if your machine does die and you have a system image from before that point (and data backups - which should be done at least daily or in the cloud), you're good for a restore at that point. Not everyone is so lucky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dweebken View Post
    A system image will restore whatever it was that broke the system in the first place, won't it? It usually takes a while to recognise there's a problem and that allows time to make a system image of the faulty system. Of course, if your machine does die and you have a system image from before that point (and data backups - which should be done at least daily or in the cloud), you're good for a restore at that point. Not everyone is so lucky.
    It really depends on how you do it. I have two external disks, which I rotate, to back up 4 computers. For my own computers, I keep 3 images in these disks,which means I can usually go back up to 3 weeks (sometimes a bit more, as the backup schedule many not be that strict). With less computers, you can keep many more images (on a 1TB external disk, for example) and I would suggest that you keep a baseline, pristine image, with the computer configured and all your essential apps installed, that can be your fallback image in case something really bad happens. I have this baseline image for "my" new laptop, which is less than one month old.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dweebken View Post
    A system image will restore whatever it was that broke the system in the first place, won't it? It usually takes a while to recognise there's a problem and that allows time to make a system image of the faulty system. Of course, if your machine does die and you have a system image from before that point (and data backups - which should be done at least daily or in the cloud), you're good for a restore at that point. Not everyone is so lucky.
    If you mess up something in the Windows System, backup images may have had the flaw for many generations of archives before you discover the flaw (usually in a system crash or failed boot). By that time, either the last good backup image has been overwritten, or it is from so long ago that it's a toss-up between Refresh and Rebuild, or Roll Back and Rebuild. You won't have saved yourself from updating or upgrading some of your software in many of these cases.

    You don 't want to be rolling back to an equally or nearly as unstable configuration as the one which has just failed miserably.

    That said, if I suspect the issue is of recent vintage, I have no problems rolling back with Macrium Reflect Free, inside of Windows 8 or outside (bootable WinPE rescue CD).
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Fred,
    It appears you are unaware of the in-place Win 8 repair that doesn't lose any third party programs (or virtually any). See http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials...ndows-8-a.html. I did it several weeks ago sucessfully, although it didn't fix the start up errors in Admin Events I was aiming at. My recollection is that there were one or two programs, such as security apps, I had to redo the settings on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaningGibbous View Post
    A while back I did a refresh and I read the part about apps being removed. I didn't think about it much because I didn't have hardly any, what I call, "apps" installed. After refresh and to my horror I found out Microsoft is now calling apps what I call software or programs. All of my programs were removed. It took me many days to install all my software back.

    Is there a way to easily install software back after a refresh? Or a way to keep it from deleting my programs in the first place?
    :I can't comment on re-installing software, but I was also horrified to find that Microsoft has redefined the word apps. It would have been so simple for them to make it clear that this meant programs such as Microsoft Office!

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