Things You Should Consider Before Reinstalling Windows

Windows is a very complicated system, so there is bound to be a complication waiting to happen that could jeopardize system integrity, forcing you to reinstall the operating system. Most of us have been there, experiencing the inexplicable blue screen of death (BSOD) whenever attempting to boot a computer. This kind of thing might even happen in safe mode, giving you no other option than to throw everything away and start from scratch. As gruesome as the process is, it’s sometimes necessary and we’re here to give you some tips on the subject!

win7reinstall-memtest

Make sure you’re not reinstalling Windows for a reason you can easily fix. If your computer is experiencing blue screens left and right, but you have no idea what’s happening, reinstalling your operating system might not solve the problem. First, check if your RAM has problems. For this, you can use memtest, a freeware application that allows you to test all of your RAM. If you get errors, try replacing the RAM and see if you have problems now. In such a case, reinstalling your operating system would have been a horrible waste of time and a mistake that could cost you some of your precious data, if not all of it.

Can you boot in safe mode? If you can, fix the problem there! This usually means that you have a service or program that starts up with your system that causes it to go kaput the moment you turn it on in a normal boot. Safe mode loads only the bare essentials. Try disabling services and programs using msconfig. Joshua Price already covered this in previous articles, just FYI.

win7reinstall-cloud

If you don’t have a spare hard drive, there’s no need to worry. Besides creating another logical partition from free space that remains on your hard drive, you can also use a Cloud backup service. The prices are relatively cheap and you could store a very hefty amount of data in them. You don’t need to shovel money at them to store data. In fact, some of them offer you up to 200 GB of free cloud storage as long as you contribute an equal amount to their networks. Remember to take at least a few hours looking through your drive to find things to back up. You might forget something and regret it later if you hurry. If your drive is inaccessible because of the problems you’re experiencing, use a live CD/DVD operating system like Ubuntu to recover the data.

If you’re not getting a BSOD, but you’re getting tons of errors and/or weird behavior, you’re probably infected. Run a virus scan on your computer, just for the sake of hopefully finding something that you can actually fight against. If you don’t have a fighting chance, try System Restore. For future reference, create a restore point on your computer every time you install a program or execute something new. This helps prevent lots of headaches like these.

If you have something to add to this, kindly add to the comments on how to deal with this particular situation so they don’t end up having to reinstall Windows every year.

17 comments

  1. If you have bothered to run a memtest then why not use the recovery console and then run  chkdsk for file errors?  Also check the hard drive for errors via the manufacturers test software. A lot of viruses attack the system restore points by shutting down the VSS. I always create a restore point before system changes as an alternative to uninstalling  new software 

    • Hmm. Yes, I forgot about chkdsk. VERY good suggestion. A lot of problems I’ve had were corrected with chkdsk. However, if you are having lots of BSODs, it’s more likely something to do with memory, whether RAM or video memory.

  2. Instead of reinstalling Windows you could try to install a linux based OS (for example Fedora or Ubuntu). You don’t even need to install it actually, the live disc will be fine as well. By using this technique you can back up important data when windows will not load and if there is a hardware error the other operating system will also report this.

    I had a computer whoso Hard Disk was crashed. Couldn’t boot anymore into Windows Vista and I don’t think I could boot anymore in Ubuntu on the hard drive itself.However I could boot the Ubuntu Live CD and it was possible for me to backup some really important data. It went really slow but it looked like Ubuntu could handle some i/o errors. After backing up some data I tried to reinstall the operating system with no result. So trying or installing another operating system could help you from time to time.

  3. Instead of mentioning partitioning your drive so you can backup to the other partition, suggest that this is a very bad thing to do.
    You lose the hard drive to mechanical failure, you lose everything.

    • Yes. However, let’s say you have one hard drive on your PC, and your operating system corrupted because of a bad sector caused by a head crash. Creating another partition and installing another operating system on it can help remedy the problem until you get a new hard drive. Plus, this also allows you to easily recover your data when you do.

      • That only works if you change permissions so installation 2 can see your old documents folder and app data. You can also pull the drive out and connect it to another computer dedicated to file recovery and backup of client drives. You have all your software tools on this networked system. I use a bare compact XP. Works a treat.

  4. 5 PASS CHKDSK – has fixed many corrupt windows file systems when nothing else worked. I only nuke and repave when absolutely needed for customers.

  5. ReImage program (downloadable subscription) can do about 90%+ fixes on your computer and replace corrupt or damaged files from their updated repository. If all else fails, you can contact their remote assistance services (all part of the same subscription and available 24/7) and they’ll enter your computer online and search for the problem(s) and make repairs and your computer will be like new again….

  6. How do I navigate to this file? I tried search bar and browser address line and can’t find the files:
    3. Now navigate to:
    C:UsersUsernameAppDataLocalGoogleChromeApplication

    • That is a hidden folder (AppData) so you need to turn on the Show hidden folder view option. To do this go to Control Panel – Folder Options. Click on Folder Options to open the control applet, then click on the View tab and click in the circle beside “Show hidden files, folders, or drives” option to enable this.
      Now you can find AppData in your Users folder.
      Good luck

  7. Is having to do this sort of thing once a year really a thing now? I’ve had computer for much longer than that without doing anything to the OS. Heck, I have 15 year old harddrives that still work.

  8. Try Googling any specific error messages that you may get. Sometimes, weeding out the crud is hard, but I’ve found a lot of good answers there. Try to get two opinions from different sites. There are a lot of so called “experts” out there.

    • Yes! There are too many people who aren’t certified or qualified to answer the questions. I’ve seen a lot of techy wannabes go into discussions where someone has a problem and suggest a fix that makes me feel like stabbing my eyes with a blunt rusty fork.

      Make sure you know what you’re looking at! MTE (this site) has an “Ask an Expert” feature on the right-hand side of the site at all times you can use to ask questions and have a qualified expert answer them. It’s really really easy to use and the expert’s on around the clock. Answers to questions are published on Wednesday.

  9. I would suggest dividing the hard drive into 2 logical drives.
    In the first one put the operating system and all the installed programs.
    In the other one put all your private data, movies, pictures, downloads such as from torrents or emule.
    * If you can’t load your system, you can reinstall the operating system on the first drive, while the data on the second drive is left safe and accessible after the new installation.
    * Another good practice is to use some programs such as Norton Ghost which creates an image of your hard drive (Unfortunately I don’t know any other and free programs for this goal, but I never really look for any). If your OS starts doing problem you can just load the last good image and return to the points where you made the image. The drawback is that any changes you made in the mean time are lost. If you change configuration of any program or if you installed/uninstalled a program, all this changes are lost and you will have to manually redo them. This can be solve by doing weekly backups.
    * Regardless of whether you took any of my previous advice, if you can’t load your system I would suggest to get another empty hard drive not necessarily big, just big enough to contain the operating system. Install on it the operating system and then connect the previous hard drive as a second hard drive. This should give you access to the second hard drive’s files (I afraid I don’t have good knowledge about how files protected by password or something like that are working. I can’t tell how to overcome this issue when looking at the files from the new system).

    You can divide your computer into 2 logical drive when the first one contain only the operation systems and installed programs. You can then backup only that drive which may be smaller then the other drive with all your personal data. When the OS starts to fail you can use that backup to restore the OS to the last backup or even before. The only drawback is that if you installed something in the meantime it will be lost.
    2. Y

  10. Hi, thought I would throw in my two penny worth as I just got over a big problem of black screen with windows 7. After booting up & going through everything, at the final moment explorer failed to start leaving me a black screen. Luckily I recalled a previous tip & did Ctrl/Alt/Del & brought up task manager. This actually showed explorer as running as a process but It wasn’t showing.

    From there I stopped explorer & then ran it again as a new task under the applications tab. Once I got windows back I could solve the problem, too long a story & my own fault!!

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