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Windows 7: How to reinstall Win 7 without losing data

04 Jun 2013   #1

Windows 7 Premium 64
How to reinstall Win 7 without losing data

My pc recently crashed and is unable to access the OS. I have tried to do a startup repair but it is not successful. I tried to boot into safe mode but that is unsuccessful as well. I have a lot of data on the hard drive that I really don't want to lose and don't have backed up. How can I reinstall the OS without losing the data or at least retrieve the data so I can reinstall the OS? Is there a boot disk that I can use to get to the data on the hard drive so I can copy it to an external source?

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04 Jun 2013   #2
Tribe Fan

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

You could boot from ubuntu (free) on a thumb drive and transfer your data to an external hard drive. Then, install a fresh copy of 7 and transfer your data back over.

This is provided the drive is not damaged.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2013   #3
Mark Phelps

Win7 Pro 32-bit, Win8 Pro 32-bit

If your filesystem is corrupted, Ubuntu won't allow you to mount it -- to prevent further damage. So, if it doesn't mount, that's likely the reason.

You said you tried to do a Startup Repair, but you often have to run that three times for it to make ALL the repairs needed. Did you run it three times?

If you have Win7 Installation media, there is a tutorial on doing a Repair Install -- which will leave your data and apps intact. You should try that.
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04 Jun 2013   #4

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

If you value your data it is essential to have at least 1 backup copy of all important files. Files of particular importance need 2 or more backup copies. Data can be lost due to hardware failure and a variety of other causes as well and you need to be prepared when (not if) something happens.
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04 Jun 2013   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


If you have a External HD, you could copy & paste your data.
Copy & Paste - in Windows Recovery Console
than copy & paste your data to new install.
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04 Jun 2013   #6
Microsoft MVP


Everything possible that can be done to repair and start Win7 is in these steps for Troubleshooting Windows 7 Failure to Start, leading up to if necessary rescuiing your files to get the superior Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 which steps are the same for retail.
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04 Jun 2013   #7
Joseph K

Windows 7 Home Premium (x64) Service Pack 1 (build 7601)

I know the horse has left the barn so to speak, but I ALWAYS put the OS in it's own partition separate from data. Even if the OS dies, data in other partitions is unaffected assuming the HD is OK.

This practice has saved my bacon several times.
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04 Jun 2013   #8
Tribe Fan

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

I was gonna say the same thing as a followup, Joseph. I've been doing that since XP and have avoided catastrophe on a couple occasions (thought I backup fairly regularly as well).

That said, I've done the Ubuntu thumb drive trick on friends' hard drives many times in the past without fail. I would definitely recommend that to the OP or anyone else facing this dilemma. For the uninitiated, Ubuntu is a lightweight Linux distribution that's small enough to run from a usb drive. It has a user interface that is easy to navigate. All your Windows disks will mount inside Ubuntu (as long as the hard drive isn't damaged) allowing you access to everything. All you have to do is transfer your data over to another drive and you're good to go.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2013   #9

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64

If not mentioned yet, hook the drive up to another pc.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jun 2013   #10

Win 7 home premium

Hi, just registered on the forum, and also very new to the "tricks and fixes" etc........some time back in a previous life I had a computer (?) with XP and must have picked up some nasty, although Nortons was resident it didn't prevent the computer from going down with all hands etc.

Long story short, one day I switched on and got a message, full screen, that said, "we are sorry for the inconvenience but Windows has encountered a fault and must shut down", that was it......nothing responded to any key stroke or mouse movement....couldn't boot up....nothing worked.

So I assumed the HDD had failed, and bought another drive, re-installed XP and other programs etc.....booted up and it worked OK, back to normal......all other files on the old HDD not accessible.

I was told the system probably had a virus that shut down or disabled the operating system, so with a new HHD and a re-installed XP etc the system now worked.

I needed to access the files on the old drive, so I installed the old drive again, but as a slave, switching the DIP switches on the back as instructed to enable it, and it appeared on My Computer as drive D.

A big worry was that drive D might have a virus lurking there, so I scanned it with Nortons and it came up clean, no viruses to be fixed etc.......I know nothing past switching on a computer and pointing the mouse etc.

So I took a punt and went to My Computer and opened the Drive D .......lo and behold all the files were present and correct, except there was no trace of any Win XP files.

I took off most of the important files I wanted to keep and scanned each with Nortons before saving them to CD.

So far there has been no trace of any virus or a cause as to why XP suddenly disappeared off the HDD.

So maybe the answer to the Win 7 crash is to install a new drive, re-install Win7 on it and make the old drive a slave and attempt to access it as drive D to obtain the files.

The new drive will automatically be listed as drive C, and the slave as drive D, if the old drive is still working.
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 How to reinstall Win 7 without losing data

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