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Re-installing Windows without deleting files

  1. Jul 10, 2008 #1
    My sisters computer has a major problem. When it starts the dell screen comes on, than it immediately switches to a black screen that says "ntl driver missing, press ctrl + alt + del to restart."

    However restarting the computer has not solved the problem and windows won't even go into safe mode. After searching for the problem on the internet I found out the only way to take care of this problem is to reinstall windows on the machine. However, my sister has tons of pictures saved on her computer that she could not bare to lose and my biggest problem is that it will delete her files.

    So I was wondering if there is anyway to reinstall windows while keeping her files? Those are the only things she wants to keep, she has backups of all her programs so losing those shouldn't be a big deal.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2008 #2
  4. Jul 10, 2008 #3
    If you have an actual windows disk, then you can reinstall windows onto the existing file system.

    For XP, just install it to a different directory; you can have multiple copies of XP on the same partition (for instance, "C:\WinXP"). Then delete the old windows directory and copy all the files over.

    For Vista, you can only have one OS per partition. If you install Vista onto an existing file system with an OS, it will back up the other version of windows into a directory called "C:\Windows.old", or something to that effect.

    If you have a factory recovery disk, it usually erases everything on the main partition, though sometimes it has the option to back up files, which may require an external drive. Use factor recovery disks with caution.
  5. Jul 10, 2008 #4


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    I'm no expert on this, but you could try to do the following, if you have an extra hard disk (USB,....) available, and if you have access to another computer. Download and burn a CD of the ubuntu live disk (on another computer of course).

    See: http://www.ubuntu.com/

    With that live disk, you can boot (from the CD) the computer that has a problem. Normally, you should be able to access from within ubuntu, the windows disk that has a problem. If you can plug in an external USB disk (or for that matter, if you can access a network, and have some access to some space somewhere on the network), then you can in principle copy all the files (pictures and all that) that you want to save.

    After that, you can do with the computer whatever you like.
  6. Jul 10, 2008 #5
    You can also usually boot to the recovery console in windows and copy files from there, though you do have to know how to use the command line.
  7. Jul 10, 2008 #6


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    Here's a link/ free download that I found yesterday, and cleared some problems that my security tools would/could not take care of.


    It restores corrupted or missing windows files, it warns that some programs might stop working or be removed, I lost one (might have been one of my problems ?) that computer seem to be trouble free now.

    You do have to allow verification of genuine product.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  8. Jul 10, 2008 #7
    The obvious answer to this problem (besides the first given) would be XP repair install (Vista probably has something equivalent), which should fix all system errors without deleting existing files.


    Just make sure that step 5 is done correctly (i.e. not accidentally normal install - there has to be the 'R' option, may not be there if XP installation is some vendor recovery media etc).
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
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