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Repair Windows XP by reinstalling
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Perform a repair installation to fix problems with Windows XP without losing your data or settings

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here are two ways to reinstall Windows XP. The first involves backing up your data and settings, formatting your hard drive and reinstalling it from scratch. It’s a long-winded process, but it’s elegant, clean and results in a sleek, more stable system. We recommend you reinstall Windows in this way once every two years or so. Click here to do so.
 
   The second method is to reinstall Windows over the top of itself. This ensures your data, programs and settings are left untouched – key system files are deleted and recreated from the files on your installation disc, so you’ll need to download all subsequent updates again, but it should hopefully fix most problems with your computer.
 
   The main requirement for a repair installation is a Windows XP installation disc with Service Pack 2 or 3 already included in it – if your disc post-dates July 2004 then there’s a good chanced it already has SP2 included (it should be clearly labelled on the box). If it doesn’t have SP2 or SP3 slipstreamed into it, you won’t be able to reinstall using that disc (an error message will inform you that setup can’t continue because the version of Windows on your hard drive is newer than that on the CD). Click here to discover how to create the required disc.
 
Post install
The step-by-step guide below reveals everything you need to know about reinstalling Windows over the top of itself. It’s cut down quite substantially from the process you follow when reinstalling from scratch, but remember it’s not as clean and elegant (if you’re trying to recover from a virus infection, for example, use it simply to get access to your data, then format and reinstall to ensure all traces have been wiped).
Once the repair install has completed, you’ll need to reinstall all post-SP2 or SP3 updates – so long as you switch on Automatic Updates when prompted this will occur in the background. The repair install approach fixes many problems, and it’s a good way to getting your system up and running again if you don’t want to go through the whole reinstall-from-scratch process.



Step-by-step: Reinstall Windows XP over the top of itself

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