You told me that one of the ways to recover from my current situation may be
to perform a “repair” reinstall of Windows. Great. How do I do that? Windows 7,
by the way.
Windows 7 made this interesting.
In previous versions of Windows, such as XP, “Repair your current
installation” was one of the options at setup time.
Not so with Windows 7 setup. At least, not explicitly.
However, if you meet a few criteria, you can in fact perform a repair
install that’s very similar to the older Windows XP repair.
There are a few things that have to line up properly in order for this technique to work:
The machine has to be booted and running your existing Windows installation. You cannot boot from the installation media for this to work. (The reason why? I have no idea.)
You need to have your installation media. For Windows 7, that means you have your original installation DVD or a copy of it somewhere.
The Windows version that you’re running needs to be no newer than that on the installation media. If you installed Windows 7 SP1, then you’ll need installation media with SP1 already in place. Sorry.
If your machine meets all those criteria, you’re good to go.
First: back up
Running setup is a pretty invasive operation – it touches and changes a lot of things.
In other words, a lot of things could go wrong.
I strongly suggest before beginning this process that you take an image backup of your machine.
In case something does go wrong, you’ll always have that to revert to.
If you insert the installation DVD, the setup program may run automatically. If not, look for setup.exe in the root folder of the media or wherever you have a copy of that.
Click Install now and you’ll be provided with your first choice:
If you are connected to the internet, choose the first “go online” option to update the installer. Note that this isn’t updating Windows itself, just the setup program should there have been any updates to it since your installation media was created. If updates are taken, the setup program will restart and resume at the license agreement and after which, you’ll be given your next choice:
This is the trick to our repair reinstall.
A ‘repair’ is nothing more than an upgrade of the current version to the same version. Windows Setup goes through all of the same motions as any other upgrade, installing Windows, even though it’s the same version.
In other words: to repair, choose Upgrade.
Setup will proceed with its normal processes and could potentially take a while.
Hopefully, the net result when it’s all done is a repaired system.
Will it be identical?
Because this is Windows Setup that we’re talking about, it’s important to note that, in the process, there’s no guarantee that some of your customizations or other changes to Windows made prior to the repair will still be there after.
Part of “repairing” is, in fact, resetting and restoring many of Windows internal settings to their defaults. If that impacts some of the changes that you’ve made, you’ll need to re-make those changes or elect to live without them.