Reinstall Windows - A clean slate after a crash or infection

A cunning email or questionable program that tries to install adware behind your back, a virus or malware infection. It can happen to anyone. In such a case, it is better to reinstall the computer. We will show you how to breathe new life into your PC with a clean installation.

Three ways

There are three ways to reinstall a PC. The first is through a recovery partition. A hidden partition containing the operating system is installed from the factory on a new PC. By starting this partition, a new installation can be performed. The second option is an installation from a Windows installation disc.

If the computer is booted from this drive, it can be formatted and reinstalled. The latter option is only available in Windows 8. In Windows 8 there is a function to reset the computer to factory settings. In principle, this should work from a recovery partition as well as from an installation disc, but there have been cases where a factory reset from a recovery partition has been found to require an installation disc.

Part 1: Saving Files

01 Back up files

If the computer still boots, you can make the necessary preparations. If you have an external hard drive, important files can be transferred to it. Before you restore these files, it is wise to scan the disk thoroughly with a good virus scanner. If you don't have an external hard drive, you can consider a cloud storage service like OneDrive or Google Drive. Both services offer 15 GB of free online storage. With OneDrive the file size is limited to 10 GB, with Google Drive the limit is 5 TB (which you will never experience as a limit in practice).

Backup can be done to a disk or to a cloud storage service.

02 Mail backup

With the MailStore Home program, e-mails from various e-mail programs can be saved to an archive and later restored. Another option is to back up the data via the email client itself. You can find an extensive course about this on our website.

With the MailStore program, emails can be stored, backed up and exported.

03 Find software licenses

Usually the Windows product key is stuck on the system case or there is a sticker on the inside of the cover of the installation disc. Anyone who has a computer with Windows 8 preinstalled will no longer find a product key. It is registered in the UEFI (the successor to the BIOS). During the recovery procedure, Windows will automatically read and use the code. It is of course possible that the sticker with the product code is no longer legible. With the program ProduKey from NirSoft, the product key can be retrieved within seconds. Windows 8.x users should be careful if they have installed extensions such as Media Center. This is because the product key that is displayed is the product key of the extension. In our case, the list of 'products' found behind Internet Explorer did contain the correct product key for Windows 8. Incidentally, some virus scanners can sound an alarm when downloading or installing this program, unjustified by the way.

With ProduKey you can read product codes.

04 Save drivers

Especially with older systems it is very difficult to find the correct drivers. Therefore, before reinstalling the system, back up the drivers. The open source program DriverBackup 2 can do that in no time. Once the program has started, click on at the bottom right Start Backup. Copy this folder to the backup disk or the cloud. After the system is reinstalled, open DriverBackup 2 and click Restore. click on Open Backup file, select the bki file contained in the backup folder and click To open. Select the required drivers and click Restore. Then restart the computer.

DriverBackup 2 program makes it easy to save drivers.

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