Make your next Win­dows reinstall a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence with Nick Peers


I t had been two years since our pre­vi­ous Win­dows reinstall when we came to write this piece. That’s nor­mally a rea­son­able time to wait be­tween wip­ing your hard drive clean and start­ing again, although given the size of our Win­dows in­stall (90GB and ris­ing), it was clear that we’d pos­si­bly waited too long. De­spite 16GB of RAM, a fast SSD boot drive, and quad­core pro­ces­sor, Win­dows took what felt like an age to get go­ing after boot­ing, while there was a no­tice­able slow­down in per­for­mance.

Un­sur­pris­ing, re­ally: Since we last wiped the drive, we’d in­stalled two ma­jor Win­dows 10 up­dates—the An­niver­sary Edi­tion and the Cre­ators Up­date. It was ob­vi­ously time for a com­plete over­haul, but bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence had taught us a few lessons along the way. Some of those lessons go back to the early days of Win­dows; oth­ers are pe­cu­liar to Win­dows 10.

And that’s where this fea­ture comes in. We’re go­ing to take you on the ul­ti­mate Win­dows reinstall tour, whether you’re in­stalling Win­dows 7, 8.1, or 10. You’ll dis­cover that the ac­tual phys­i­cal act of re­in­stalling is the sim­plest bit, so we’ll step you through every­thing you need to do to pre­serve your data, trans­fer set­tings across the reinstall di­vide, and en­sure noth­ing gets left be­hind—just in case.

We’ll show you how to prep for reinstall by bring­ing all your key apps, driv­ers, and li­censes into one place (oh, and don’t for­get to unin­stall apps that need de­ac­ti­vat­ing prior to re­in­stalling). You’ll dis­cover how to source the lat­est ver­sion of your Win­dows in­stall me­dia for a cleaner, more up-to-date in­stall out of the box (we’ll also re­veal a tool that gives you the power to craft your ul­ti­mate reinstall disc).

We’ll step you through the in­stall process, but cru­cially, we’ll be on hand to guide you through the post-setup phase: Get Win­dows up and run­ning again, reinstall core apps, re­store links to your data fold­ers, bring back your app set­tings, and—for good mea­sure— in­stall a snap­shot­ting backup reg­i­men that lets you roll back your PC quickly when the need arises. Long story short, every­thing you need is here. Enough pream­ble—let’s reinstall Win­dows!

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