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Windows 7: Reinstalling Windows and keeping files.

20 Aug 2011   #1

Windows 7
Reinstalling Windows and keeping files.

If I reinstall windows 7 and do a clean install, will it save all my documents and create a Windows.old folder?

These are very important documents, and I can't back them up, because the laptop crashed.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2011   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit - Build 7600 SP1

When I went from XP to Win 7, it created a Win.Old file. If just reinstalling Win 7, I don't think you get one. At any rate, it is best to backup if at all possible. The Win.Old file is not something you can count on.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2011   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bigmck View Post
If just reinstalling Win 7, I don't think you get one.
The Windows.old folder is also created when re-installing Seven without formatting the system HD.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bigmck View Post
At any rate, it is best to backup if at all possible. The Win.Old file is not something you can count on.
Very true! Although Windows.old has never failed me, I've heard and read the horror stories from a lot of users who have lost their personal files after re-installation. Always do backups.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Aug 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Hello Arthur and welcome to Seven Forums.

You may find these tutorials of interest. the first is doing a Clean Install using a retail or OEM Windows 7 disc. The second is using a retail Windows 8 upgrade disc.

Clean Install Windows 7

Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

A Clean Install will format and erase your hard drive so you'd have to manually backup any data you want saved. You could do a Custom Install (second tutorial, Option Two) without formating the current Windows installation to have your current Windows installation backed up to the Windows.old folder during the installation of your retail upgrade Windows 7. This way you can copy any files back that you want from the C:\Windows.old folder (previous installation) back into your new installation afterwards. But there's always the possibility of having something corrupt the Windows.old data.

Another possibility is to remove your laptop's hard drive and put it in an external enclosure. You should then be able to connect this external enclosure to a USB port on a working computer and extract all your personal data to the working computer's hard drive, a flash memory stick, DVD, etc. This will give you the opportunity to make sure all data was successfully backed up. When finished you could remove the hard drive from the enclosure, put it back in your laptop, and proceed with a Clean Install. External enclosures can be had for about $10. - 2.5 external enclosure
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2011   #5
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello ArthurNeedsHelp, welcome to Seven Forums!

You may be able to copy out the data you need to save to external media using the tutorial linked below; as others have said I would not bet on the Windows.old for irreplaceable data it I were you.

How to Copy & Paste in Recovery Console on Windows 7 or Vista
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Reinstalling Windows and keeping files.

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