The Ultimate Fixer-Upper: Reinstalling Windows XP

Windows XP

This tutorial assumes you have a Windows XP installation CD. You cannot do this with a "recovery disk". If you're going to do a fresh install from a recovery disk it will put your computer back to the state it was in the day it left the factory. And if Norton and other programs were installed on your computer when you got it and you don't want them, remember they're going to be back when you use a recovery disk. We recommend you use a Windows XP installation disk (if you have one) and do a fresh install.

The First Step
The first step is backing up those important files, pictures, email messages, etc. that you do not want to lose. If you don't back them up you're going to lose them. So, take whatever time you need to take and backup your important files to CD or DVD and keep that DVD or CD handy - because you're going to need it when you format and reinstall Windows XP.

And before you start with the formatting and reinstallation process, make sure you have all your software installation disks, driver disk/recovery disk (that should have come with your computer) and make sure you have saved any emails with software registration keys to a safe location (any location other than the hard drive you're about to format). You can use a flash drive to save your registration emails if you like - or you can put them on the CD/DVD with the other files you've backed up. But, whatever you do, save them somewhere OFF your hard drive and note where you've saved them.

Make sure you have a drivers disk. If you don't make sure you back up your drivers using WinDriversBackup (free) or My Drivers. And make sure the backup is complete. You'll regret not having backed up your drivers BEFORE beginning the installation because finding the right drivers is tedious work if you have to go searching all over the Web for them. So get those drivers backed up if your computer didn't come with a driver disk.

Getting Started
While you're in Windows, insert your Windows XP CD-ROM
into your CD drive. Let the CD auto play. And choose "To set up Windows now press ENTER". On the next screen choose "To continue installing a fresh copy of "ESC". This is what you want to do. So press the ESC key and choose C:\Windows "Microsoft Windows XP Home" (or "Microsoft Windows XP Professional if you have the PRO version) as the directory to which you want to install Windows XP. You'll get a stern warning about installing two operating systems on the same partition. We don't care. So continue with the install :)

Remember - A fresh installation will wipe out ALL of your data. That means EVERYTHING .Once started, the setup program will run on auto-pilot for the most part so once you get to this stage it will be too late to save any data. Whatever you didn't save before is gone. But you'll have to stick around because you will be required to enter the 25 digit Windows key (it will be on a sticker on the back of your computer - most likely). After Setup is nearly complete you'll need to give your computer a name, choose your time zone, etc.  You  can install additional features and change any of your choices anytime after Windows XP is completely installed.


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The Black Screen -
The beginning of the Windows Installation. This shows windows is checking your computer. It's still not too late to back out of the installation at this case you forgot to save some important files.

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Welcome To Setup
Here's the screen where you have choices to make. You want to install a fresh copy of Windows - this will remove your previous version of Windows and ALL your files. Press Enter

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Where to install
When you see this screen look for your current installation. That's where you want to install the fresh copy of Windows. Look for C:\Windows "Microsoft Windows XP Home" or "Microsoft Windows Professional" and install it there. You'll get a warning about installing a second operating system on a partition with an operating system already installed. Ignore it.
You've done it! Once you see the Windows "ad" screens like this you know you're on the way. All you have to do now is follow the onscreen prompts and in 20 to 30 minutes you'll be starting a whole new installation of Windows.

After Windows XP's setup is done and you're booted into Windows, the first thing you'll need to do is reinstall your drivers from your drivers disk. If you discover you don't have one at this point, it will be too late. So we suggest you download a program to backup your drivers before you start the fresh install of Windows. There are two we recommend. One is called "My Drivers" and its' not free, but the free trial will function long enough to get you through this installation (and you should purchase it after that if it worked well for you). The other, called Double Drivers is free. For information about My Drivers click here. And for Double Drivers visit this page.

After your drivers are reinstalled, the next thing you'll want to do is install a good anti-virus. You don't need to spend a dime or pay ransom each year to keep your computer protected. We suggest AVAST which you can get free from (Free for home/personal use). Then install a good firewall (check out Kerio - Then install two good anti-spyware programs. We recommend Spyware Doctor (commercial software) and Spybot Search and Destroy (free). After you've completed these tasks you can start installing your normal programs (Microsoft Office, etc.) and moving your important documents and files back onto you new computer from wherever you saved them.

If you're computer is running poorly and you have multiple problems sometimes you can fix your Windows installation by removing the offending programs or controlling your startups using MSCONFIG. Then there comes a time when you've spent all the time and money you're going to spend on trying to fix your Windows problems - that's the time you need to use the "ultimate fixer upper" - a clean, fresh install of Windows XP. Remember, backup EVERYTHING you consider important. Make sure you have a driver disk from your computer manufacturer (or you use one of the programs above to create a back up and save it on CD or DVD before you start the reinstallation.

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