REPAIR, NOT REINSTALL
Reinstalling Windows is often seen as the ultimate solution to any problem. If you’re reinstalling to fix problems, rather than clear out a clogged up system, once you’ve ascertained it’s an issue with Windows, rather than a hardware problem, ask yourself whether a full-blown Windows install is required. If your PC is functioning perfectly other than some specific glitches—Microsoft Edge no longer works after the Creators Update, for instance—a repair install may be a better option.
Repair installs simply overwrite Windows files— your apps, programs (including their settings), and any data on your system drive is theoretically left untouched. The procedure for performing a repair install varies between each version of Windows, but they share one common characteristic: You have to be able to boot into Windows to launch the repair from the Windows desktop.
Windows 7 and 10 users can insert their Windows install media and launch the installation process from there. When prompted, choose the “Custom” option to “upgrade” your existing installation. If your Windows 10 media isn’t the latest version, run the Media Creation Tool instead, and choose the “Upgrade” option from there—make sure you select the option to keep personal files and apps before clicking “Install.”
Windows 8.1 provides a handy “refresh” option, which enables you to reinstall Windows over the top of itself—access this from “Change PC settings > Update and recovery > Recovery,” then click “Get started” under “Refresh.”
The installation process is identical to performing a full reinstall, but at the end of it, your programs and data are untouched; only Windows gets refreshed, hopefully resolving whatever problems you’ve been having. Note: It’s a lengthy process, so be prepared to wait an hour or more, depending on the speed and state of your PC.