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The Print Craftsman

Can I Re-Install Windows 7 Non-Destructively?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

My daughters computer will not boot up. If I had to guess she let the battery die again and now something is amiss.  I have tried all the auto repair options while booting it to no avail.  I went ahead and cloned her drive just so I won't be working on her original.  The cloned drive won't boot either but it acts the exact same way as the original.  So now I want to re-install windows 7 on it but not replace any of her personal stuff.  Since I'm working on a cloned copy I'm willing to take a few risks.  The personal data is important to her which is why I'm making the effort to not lose it. 

 

I am not exactly sure how to proceed?  Can I just re-install the boot records... overwriting the damaged ones?  And if so how would I go about doing that?  I'm not really a noob but I'm no Expert Savant either.  I know just enough to be absolutely dangerous.

 

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.  I'm going to be working on this over the weekend.

 

Dell Studio 1558, Model PP39L, Laptop running Windows 7 (Home I think), 1TB SSD

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Windows 7 will keep all of the old files in a folder called windows.old when you do a unclean reinstall.

 

If you are worried, try removing the computer's hard drive and plug it into another computer and pull out all the files. After that install windows.

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My method takes one minute and not change anything in system, so I assume that will be more convenient. And gives OP new useful tool (unfortunately only for win7 and earlier).

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Thank you both for the replies.  I have a complete CLONE of the HD so I'm not too worried about losing files as I will be working on the CLONE COPY.  To answer the first question.  During the bootup sequence windows finally comes up with a message stating that it couldn't boot.  And gives options to auto repair blah blah blah.  But none of the options work.  I have not been able to get past this.  I have been able to enter the COMMAND prompt window and even issue commands from the C:> prompt such as CHKDSK with the repair option chose etc.  But still hasn't fixed it.  I'm going to try homeap5's solution.  I appreciate both of you taking the time to help me.  The Print Craftsman.

 

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On 4/13/2019 at 8:06 AM, The Print Craftsman said:

My daughters computer will not boot up. If I had to guess she let the battery die again and now something is amiss.  I have tried all the auto repair options while booting it to no avail.  I went ahead and cloned her drive just so I won't be working on her original.  The cloned drive won't boot either but it acts the exact same way as the original.  So now I want to re-install windows 7 on it but not replace any of her personal stuff.  Since I'm working on a cloned copy I'm willing to take a few risks.  The personal data is important to her which is why I'm making the effort to not lose it. 

 

I am not exactly sure how to proceed?  Can I just re-install the boot records... overwriting the damaged ones?  And if so how would I go about doing that?  I'm not really a noob but I'm no Expert Savant either.  I know just enough to be absolutely dangerous.

 

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.  I'm going to be working on this over the weekend.

 

Dell Studio 1558, Model PP39L, Laptop running Windows 7 (Home I think), 1TB SSD

It might be worth buying a SATA to USB adapter and copying her files off her drive or off the clone drive you made. Truthfully if Windows is that far gone, Id suggest a full format and reinstall. 

 

Quick questions: Does this computer have a Windows disk or a system recovery disk/partion? Because I know there are some ways where you can do a non destructive recovery, which might be enough to fix Windows. At least thats how it was on all the Prebuilt computers I have ever bought. If it just a Windows disk, I think there might be some recovery options, but its been a long time since I have Installed Windows 7. 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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I still can't understand what is purpose of this forum - to help people solve their problems or to recommend everyone reinstalling system in every case.

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4 hours ago, homeap5 said:

I still can't understand what is purpose of this forum - to help people solve their problems or to recommend everyone reinstalling system in every case.

Generally when Windows get this fucked, its just wise to reinstall if you want things to work properly from now on. Its just how it is, been this way since Windows 98 sadly. If the OP was using Windows 10, recovery options could be easier because Windows 10 has awesome recovery options. 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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1 hour ago, Donut417 said:

Generally when Windows get this fucked, its just wise to reinstall if you want things to work properly from now on. Its just how it is, been this way since Windows 98 sadly. If the OP was using Windows 10, recovery options could be easier because Windows 10 has awesome recovery options. 

So maybe this section of forum should be closed since the only way is always made reinstall? Come on, if you don't know any other methods to solve problems, then your advices are pointless - everyone knows how to reinstall Windows. The point of this forum is to give people better alternative. You know that "something" is wrong, so probably reinstall fix it. But there are tools to fix system problems and one of them I recommend for win7 - do you used it? Maybe other tools you know that FIX problems like this one and keep system intact?

 

And big surprise for you - a LOT changes since win98. It's not the same crappy system with crappy registry database. Years of improvements and changes. Reinstalling was some kind of solution in win98 era, but is not anymore.

 

This forum annoys me sometimes when people are racing to write "reinstall system". It's kind of "first!" type of post.

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10 hours ago, homeap5 said:

So maybe this section of forum should be closed since the only way is always made reinstall? Come on, if you don't know any other methods to solve problems, then your advices are pointless - everyone knows how to reinstall Windows. The point of this forum is to give people better alternative. You know that "something" is wrong, so probably reinstall fix it. But there are tools to fix system problems and one of them I recommend for win7 - do you used it? Maybe other tools you know that FIX problems like this one and keep system intact?

 

And big surprise for you - a LOT changes since win98. It's not the same crappy system with crappy registry database. Years of improvements and changes. Reinstalling was some kind of solution in win98 era, but is not anymore.

 

This forum annoys me sometimes when people are racing to write "reinstall system". It's kind of "first!" type of post.

Its about trust. If the system is hosed now and you get it back how can you trust it? You dont know what kind of damage has been done. For all we know a virus took Windows out, or something got corrupted. Hell one time my friend got his registry corrupted and had to reinstall because he could no longer log in. Windows can be finicky. It also comes down to time, many times its faster and less of a hassle to format and reinstall. Call me lazy if you will, but Im choosing the easy solution. 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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7 hours ago, Donut417 said:

Its about trust. If the system is hosed now and you get it back how can you trust it? You dont know what kind of damage has been done. For all we know a virus took Windows out, or something got corrupted. Hell one time my friend got his registry corrupted and had to reinstall because he could no longer log in. Windows can be finicky. It also comes down to time, many times its faster and less of a hassle to format and reinstall. Call me lazy if you will, but Im choosing the easy solution. 

Of course - it's your choice, but do not "help" people then. If I have problem with my house (pipes leaks or something), I don't want advice like "build new house". I expect solutions to a problem from specialist, not from guy who tells me "you know, even if I repair that pipe and fix electricity, it still may be not everything, so better buy a new house".

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I'm guessing somebody didn't think about all the time involved. A reinstall + restore is usually a lot quicker than fixing an issue which in a lot of cases didn't come alone. Sure, trying to figure out and fix things can be fun, but somebody people just want their stuff to work.

As for the OP's question, I'd start here:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/927392/use-bootrec-exe-in-the-windows-re-to-troubleshoot-startup-issues

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I'm guessing somebody forgot that some people uses their systems more than just for one browser and few games. Some people uses lot of programs, configurations etc. Restore that to the point where everything works the same as user wants takes LOT of time.

 

But anyway - I think OP abandon this thread.

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On 4/13/2019 at 8:06 AM, The Print Craftsman said:

My daughters computer will not boot up. If I had to guess she let the battery die again and now something is amiss. 

I wonder if the OP had removed the battery and reinstalled it? I had gotten a number of "broken" laptops from people that was easily fxed buy reseating the battery.

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