When Windows goes badly wrong, rebuilding the operating system without reformatting and reinstalling apps and data can save hours of work.
A fast, nondestructive Windows reinstall is a manual process in XP, Vista, and Win7, but it’s built in and fully automatic in Windows 8.
Reader seeks no-reformat reinstall for Win8
A nondestructive Windows reinstall completely refreshes the operating system but retains your user accounts, data, passwords, and/or installed programs. This type of repair takes a fraction of the time required for a standard, full reinstall — and it’s much, much easier to do.
I’ve covered nondestructive reinstalls for previous versions of Windows in several earlier stories. See, for example, the July 14, 2011, Top Story, “Win7′s no-reformat, nondestructive reinstall.” The process for Vista is nearly identical. For Windows XP, check out the 2006 InformationWeek article, “XP’s no-reformat, nondestructive total-rebuild option.”
Reader William Searle wondered about this capability in Windows 8.
- “Is there a Win8 version of the ‘no-reformat, nondestructive reinstall?’”
Indeed there is, William. Microsoft made it easier than ever and built it right into the operating system; it’s nondestructive for your settings and user data and for native Win8 apps downloaded through the app store. (From-disc apps, however, might still have to be reinstalled the old-fashioned way.)