By Delia / Last update January 5, 2021

Available repair methods to try before using repair install

Reinstalling Windows can always fix your system issues. Repair install, which this guide will show you, does not require you to reinstall programs or reconfigure system settings, but it still takes some time. Since it will remain your files and settings, it will take longer than a clean install.

Therefore, before you reinstall Windows 7, it is recommended to try a few quick fixes to see if one of them works.

1. Last Known Good Configuration to fix booting and stability problems. You can press F8 constantly at computer startup to enter Advanced Boot Options menu. From there, you can select the option Last Known Good Configuration (Advanced).

2. Safe Mode. From the Advanced Options menu, you can select Safe Mode to repair some corrupted files.

3. Clean Boot. If Windows 7 runs in Safe Mode but not normal, you can turn on Clean Boot to if it third-party software or drivers that caused the problem.

4. Run Startup Repair. Startup Repair usually can repair problems that are preventing Windows from starting. At the Advanced Boot Options menu, select Repair your computer. Then select Startup Repair, one of the system recovery options in Windows 7.

5. Run System Restore. You probably have some restore points created on your computer because it is turned on by default.

6. Run check disk from command prompt. From the System Recovery Options screen, select the last option Command Prompt. Type “chkdsk C: /f /r” and press Enter.

If none of these methods works and you do not have a valid image backup, then you should try to reinstall Windows 7.

What do you need?

If you can boot into Windows 7 desktop successfully, then you can reinstall Windows 7 without losing files or even installed programs. In order to perform a nondestructive reinstall of Windows 7, you will need a Windows 7 installation DVD. If you do not have one, you can download the latest Windows 7 installation ISO file.

Notice: 1. the installation DVD has to be a newer version of Windows 7 than your current system. if your Windows installation DVD is very old, then you can uninstall Windows 7 updates.

2. This non-destructive reinstall of Windows 7 might cause compatibility issues with some of your installed programs, so it is recommended to backup your system before trying.

Backup Windows 7 system in case compatibility problems

Normally, it will cause no issues to reinstall windows 7 without losing programs, but you can never be more careful about your data. Therefore, you should create a system image backup that includes all your installed programs just in case the reinstall of Windows 7 goes wrong.

As for system backup, you probably want to get it done quickly, so you can start to reinstall Windows 7. Then you can use free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard to finish backing your computer in munites (the specific backup running time depends on the amount of data and your hardware writing speed).

AOMEI Backupper is very easy to use and you can get started right away.

To create a system image backup with AOMEI Backupper:

1. Download and install this free Windows backup utility.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

2. At the starter screen, click the Backup tab and select System Backup. You can also select Disk Backup, File Backup or Partition Backup based on your preference.

System Backup

3. You just need to select a destination location to store the backup image since the program will automatically select system related items as backup source.

Select Destination

4. You can click Options to adjust backup compression level and set image splitting if needed. After that, click Start Backup to start the backup.

If you are worried about system boot issue, you can create a bootable media under Tools tab. It can help you to boot any Windows PC into WinPE and restore your system from a backup. Or, you can use Recovery Environment tool to enable the boot option of AOMEI Backupper recovery environment. Thus you can backup/restore from boot as well.

Reinstall Windows 7 without losing files

With everything needed prepared, you can now start to reinstall Windows 7.

1. Boot up your Windows 7 computer (Safe Mode or normal mode). then insert the installation DVD or USB disk.

2. Open Windows File Explorer, and then open the DVD drive in File Explorer. Locate the Setup.exe file and double-click to run it. If you see an AutoPlay pop-up window, just simply select Run Setup.exe.

3. Then you will see Windows 7 Windows 7 installation page appear on your desktop. Click “Install Now” and follow the wizard to complete the process.

Windows Install Now

During the process, your computer may reboot a few times, which is normal. When it completes, you can boot Windows 7 and find all your files, settings and programs are intact.

If you do not have an installation disk, you can mount the installation ISO file as a virtual drive. Then open the virtual drive in File Explorer and run the Setup.exe file.

If you cannot boot into Windows 7, then you can still reinstall Windows 7 without losing files, but all the files will be stored in a separated folder.

Reinstall Windows 7 without formatting C: drive

When the system cannot boot, you can boot your computer from the Windows 7 installation disk. Before you do, you need to make sure that your C: drive has at least 13 GB of free space.

At the screen in which you are asked to choose where to install Windows, just simply select the C: drive without formatting or deleting anything.

Windows Install Location

When the installation completes, you will find all your installed programs are gone and your personal files are saved in Windows.old folder located on C: drive.

After you copy all your needed files out of the Windows.old folder, you can use built-in utility Disk Cleanup to delete the previous Windows installation to free up disk space on C: drive.


As addressed above, whether your computer can boot or not, you can reinstall Windows 7 without losing files. In case of unexpected issue aroused in the process, you can create a system backup with AOMEI Backupper.

Actually, while your system is running smoothly, it is a good practice to backup your system regularly. for example, after you finish reinstalling Windows 7, you should create a full system backup including all your installed programs.

If your system does not work as it should be or it has any other issues, you can restore from the backup without losing anything. With a system backup, you do not need to go through the reinstalling to fix system issues. Even when computer hardware fails, you can restore your system to dissimilar hardware computer.

If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you are also allowed to deploy/restore system image file on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network.