Plan Your Windows XP Repair Install – How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install

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Plan Your Windows XP Repair Install – Repairing a Windows XP installation is valuable when you need to keep your programs and data intact, but need to restore important system files to their original state. This is often an easy fix for complicated Windows issues.

This 19-step guide will walk you through every part of the repair installation.

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Plan Your Windows XP Repair Install – What to Know

  • Plan before you start, and begin by booting from a Windows XP installation disc.
  • Choose to Set Up Windows XP and then choose to repair your installation in the Windows setup.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts as the setup process completes.

Plan Your Windows XP Repair Install

Even though a repair installation doesn’t alter any programs or data, other than Windows XP itself, we highly advise that you take precautions in the rare event that something will go wrong, and you lose data. That means if there’s anything you want to keep, you should back it up prior to beginning this process.

Some things to consider backing up that usually reside on the same drive as Windows XP (which we’ll assume is “C:”) include a number of folders located under C:\Documents and Settings\{YOUR NAME} such as DesktopFavorites and My Documents. Also, check these folders under other user’s accounts if more than one person logs onto your PC.

You should also locate the Windows XP product key, a 25-digit alphanumeric code unique to your copy of Windows. You shouldn’t need the product key to do a repair installation, but it’s good to have it in case your situation gets progressively worse, and you find yourself needing to do a ​clean installation of Windows later.

The steps and screenshots shown in these instructions refer specifically to Windows XP Professional, but will also serve perfectly well as a guide to repairing Windows XP Home Edition.

Boot From the Windows XP CD

To begin the Windows XP repair process, you’ll need to boot from the Windows XP CD.

First, watch for a Press any key to boot from CD message similar to the one shown in the screenshot above.

Once you see it, press a key to force the computer to boot from the Windows CD. If you don’t press a key, your PC will attempt to boot to the operating system that’s currently installed on your hard drive. If this happens, simply reboot and try to boot to the CD again.

Press F6 to Install a Third Party Driver

The Windows Setup screen will appear and a number of files and drivers necessary for the setup process will load.

Toward the beginning of this process, a message will appear that says, Press F6 if you need to install a third party SCSI or RAID driver. As long as you’re doing a repair installation from a Windows XP SP2 or newer CD, this step is probably not necessary.

On the other hand, if you’re installing from an older version of the Windows XP CD and you have an SATA hard drive, you’ll need to press F6 here to load any necessary drivers. The instructions that came with your hard drive or computer should include this information.

For most users, though, this step can be ignored.

Press ENTER to Set Up Windows XP

After the necessary files and drivers are loaded, the Windows XP Professional Setup screen will appear.

Press Enter to set up Windows now.

Even though the second option is to repair a Windows XP installation, the Recovery Console isn’t the option we want. We choose to truly perform a complete repair installation a few steps from now.

Read and Accept the Licensing Agreement

The next screen that appears is the Windows XP Licensing Agreement screen. Read through the agreement and press F8 to confirm that you agree with the terms.

Press the Page Down key to advance through the licensing agreement faster. This isn’t to suggest you should skip reading the agreement, though! You should always read “small print” especially when it comes to operating systems and other software.

Select the Windows XP Installation to Repair

On the next screen, setup needs to know which Windows installation you want to either repair or install a fresh copy over.

The single installation of Windows on your PC should already be highlighted. If you have multiple installations, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select the installation you’re wanting to reinstall.

Since we want to repair the selected Windows XP installation, press R to continue.

Wait for the Current Windows XP Files to Delete

Setup will now delete the necessary system files from the Windows XP installation that’s currently on your hard drive. This usually only takes a few seconds and no user intervention is necessary.

No data files like word processor files, spreadsheet files, music files, photos, etc. should be deleted during this process. Only system files that Windows XP is able to restore are being deleted.

Wait for the Windows XP Installation Files to Copy

Windows XP Setup will now copy the necessary installation files from the installation CD to the hard drive.

This step usually only takes a few minutes and no user intervention is necessary.

Windows XP Repair Installation Begins

Windows XP will now begin installing. No user intervention is necessary.

The time estimation on the left is based on the number of tasks the setup process has left to complete, not on a true estimation of the time it will take to complete them. Usually, the time here is an exaggeration. Windows will probably be ​set up sooner than this.

Choose Regional and Language Options

During installation, the Regional and Language Options window will appear.

The first section allows you to change the default language and the default location. If the options listed match your preferences, no changes are necessary. If you wish to make changes, select Customize and follow the directions given to install new languages or change locations.

The second section allows you to change the default Windows input language and device. If the options listed match your preferences, no changes are necessary. If you wish to make changes, choose ​Details and follow the directions given to install new input languages or change input methods.

After you’ve made any changes, or if you’ve determined no changes are necessary, select Next.

Enter a Workgroup or Domain Name

The Workgroup or Computer Domain window will appear next with two options for you to choose from—No, this computer is not on a network, or is on a network without a domain or Yes, make this computer a member of the following domain.

If you’re installing Windows on a single computer or a computer on a home network, chances are the correct option to choose is No, this computer is not on a network, or is on a network without a domain. If you’re on a network, enter the workgroup name of that network here. Otherwise, feel free to leave the default workgroup name and continue.

If you’re installing Windows in a corporate environment, you may need to choose the Yes, make this computer a member of the following domain option and enter a domain name, but check with your system administrator first.

If you’re not sure, choose No, this computer is not on a network, or is on a network without a domain. You can always change this later once you’re logged in.

Select Next.

Wait for the Windows XP Repair Installation to Finalize

The Windows XP repair installation will now finalize. No user intervention is necessary.

Wait for Restart and Windows XP Boot

Your PC will automatically restart and proceed to load the repaired installation of Windows.

Begin Final Set Up of Windows XP

The Welcome to Microsoft Windows screen appears next, informing you that the next few minutes will be spent setting up your computer.

Select Next.

Optionally Register Windows XP with Microsoft

Registration with Microsoft is optional, but if you’d like to do that now, choose Yes, I’d like to register with Microsoft now, select Next, and follow the instructions to register.

Otherwise, choose No, not at this time, and select Next.

If you registered with your previous Windows installation that you’re now repairing, you may not see this screen. If this is the case, just proceed to the next step.

Create Initial User Accounts

In this step, setup wants to know the names of the users who will use Windows so it can set up individual accounts for each user. You must enter at least one name, but can enter up to five here. More users can be entered from within Windows XP after the repair installation is complete.

After entering the account name(s), select Next to continue.

Finish Final Setup of Windows XP

We’re almost there! All the necessary files are installed and all the necessary settings are configured.

Select Finish to proceed to Windows XP.

Wait for Windows XP to Start

Windows XP is now loading. This may take a minute or two, depending on your computer’s speed.

Windows XP Reinstallation is Complete

This completes the final step of reinstalling Windows XP! Congratulations.

The first step after reinstalling Windows is to proceed to Windows Update to install all the latest updates and fixes from Microsoft. The repair installation restored the original system files, so any updates you installed prior to this repair installation—including all service packs and other patches—are no longer installed.

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This is a necessary step to ensure that your repaired installation of Windows is secure and up to date.