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How to reinstall Windows like a pro

Chris Hoffman | June 30, 2014
It's super-easy to reinstall Windows 8, and not much more difficult to reinstall Windows 7. Use these tips to get the most out of a reinstall.

Reinstall Windows
Once the Windows installation media is booted, the Windows installer will take over and guide you through the process.

Pay particular attention to the disk partitioning options. You'll want to replace your old Windows system without overwriting any other partitions or files you want to keep.

Download drivers for your PC
Modern versions of Windows have more built-in drivers than ever, so most of your PC's hardware should work out of the box.

You can also grab the drivers and utilities you may need for your PC's hardware from the manufacturer's website.

Go to the manufacturer's website and find the downloads page associated with your specific PC model. You can choose which files to download and install. During installation, be sure to un-check any boxes that will install any bloatware.

If you built your own PC, you'll find these drivers and tools on the individual pages for each hardware component.

Create a custom refresh image
Microsoft includes command-line tool with Windows 8 called recimg to create custom recovery images.

This will save a lot of time and effort during any future refreshes.

First, make sure to uninstall bloatware and perform your favorite tweaks right after you get a new PC or reinstall Windows. Next, install your favorite software. Changes will be saved in the recovery image, so you don't have to make them every time you refresh your PC.

Be sure to have a clean system before running recimg.Your custom recovery image won't be squeaky clean if you've been using your Windows installation for a while, collecting temporary files and other garbage.

Microsoft tried to eliminate the need for all this fiddling with Windows 8's Refresh your PC feature, but the feature doesn't go all the way. Sometimes, the best solution is to wipe everything and start with a clean slate.

 

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