Reinstall XP Without Losing Any Software Or Settings

This technique lets you completely and nondestructively rebuild, repair or refresh an existing XP installation while leaving already-installed software alone (no reinstallation needed!). It leaves user accounts, names, and passwords untouched; and also takes only a fraction of the time a full, from-scratch reinstall does. And unlike a traditional full reinstall, this option doesn’t leave you with two
copies of XP on your hard drive; or delete an exiting copy. Instead, you end up with just your original installation, but repaired, refreshed, and ready to go.

It’s XP’s most powerful rebuild/repair option; and yet Microsoft chose to hide it behind seeming dead ends, red herrings, and a recycled interface that makes it hard to find and (at first) somewhat confusing to use. Go figure.

We’ve saved this technique for last in our discussion of the various XP repair/rebuild options because the fixes we’ve previously discussed are like first aid— the things you try first. For instance, see this discussion on removing limitations on XP’s Recovery Console ( ), turning it into a more complete repair tool; or this discussion on the Recovery Console’s little known boot data "Rebuild" command ( ) that can cure many boot-related problems. (There’s also lots more on the Recovery Console here: )

But when the Recovery Console techniques don’t work and you’re facing the prospect of a total reformat/reinstall, STOP! Try this no-reformat reinstall te

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.