[Simple Guide] How to Reinstall Windows 10 without Losing Data or Programs/Apps

In this guide, we will show you how to reinstall Windows 10 without losing data and programs on your desktop or laptop computer. Your My Documents, music files, pictures and files and folders on the desktop will remain after the reinstallation. Basically, other than the OS related files, nothing should be replaced/missed including the Programs and Apps. Windows 10 has a smart feature to retain your old data while reinstalling OS on the same computer and same partition. Technically, what happens is, the installation process copies your files such as My Documents, Desktop, Downloads, personalized settings, Programs and Apps to a temporary location, then copy back while finalizing the installation. Hence, the Windows 10 re-installation process may take a few hours depending on the data you have on your computer to complete.

Why Reinstall Windows 10 on the Same Computer and Partition?

The main reason is upgrading. If you like to upgrade your Windows 10 to a major release (without doing it through Windows update) with the bootable USB or DVD, then you can consider this method. Also, if you have many computers that need to be upgraded but doing via Windows update is not viable, then you need to reinstall the latest version with ISO file or USB/DVD.

The second reason could be is to repair Windows 10. Reinstalling to repair Windows 10 should be the last option except you see any major corruption in the OS. System Restore, System reset, and other repair methods should be tried before reinstalling.

Note: When you reinstall the Windows 10 top of existing OS, you must use the latest or the same version of Windows 10. The build number should be more or the same. You can’t install an older version than the existing Windows on the same computer. Also, make sure you install the same type of Windows, like Pro, Enterprise and home editions. By the way, you can install that but it will be treated as a clean install. You will not get the option to keep your personal files and programs while reinstalling.

No Option To Keep Person Files

Steps to Reinstall Windows 10 Without Losing Data

1) Though these steps are going to work well, and you will get your data back after the reinstallation, it is highly recommended to take a backup. Mostly nothing will happen to your personal data (files and folders), but you may lose few customized settings of the 3rd party apps and programs. Without any 3rd party backup tools, you can take a full PC backup from Windows backup utility.

Windows 10 Backup

2) Make sure you have the latest version of Windows 10. It can be either an ISO file or on the DVD. Open or mount the file and locate the setup.exe then execute it.

Execute Setup

3) If the Internet is available on the PC, you can check for Windows updates while installing. Select the first option, otherwise, skip it.

Update Settings

4) It will take some time to analyze and decide the capability of upgrading the PC on the next screen.

5) Accept the license term next.

6) If the version you are installing is compatible for reinstallation on your system, you will get the option to keep the personal files and programs as below. Select the below option and press Next.

Option To Keep Files

7) Start the installation. As mentioned earlier, based on your personal data, Programs/Apps and the Windows update, it is will take a few hours.

Running Reinstallation Of Windows 10

8) It will customize and bring back your personalized settings once the reinstallation completed with several restarts. Do not interrupt the computer power during these steps.

Completing Windows 10 Reinstallation

Did you notice that we haven’t entered the Windows 10 key? Yes, during the Windows 10 reinstallation (with the matching version) process, the key is not required.

There you go, you must land on your desktop with your personal data and programs. If you installed the latest build of the Windows 10, you can verify the upgrade of Windows version. Also, hopefully, the reinstallation would fix the issue you were facing before that made you reinstall Windows 10.

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

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