How To Repair Windows 8.1 Installation (The Easy Way)

Windows XP, a version of Windows operating system that is going strong thirteen years after its its 2001 release, came with a handy feature to repair the corrupted Windows installation. If you ever installed or reinstalled Windows XP operating system, you probably remember the option titled Repair Windows installation that appeared during the install process.

The Repair Windows XP installation option was one of the best features of Windows XP operating system as it allowed users to repair the installation without losing data and installed programs.

Windows 8.1

However, unlike Windows XP, its successors Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 don’t feature Repair Windows installation option and instead offer a variety of other features to repair the Windows installation, including advanced commands.

While Windows 8 and 8.1 ship with Refresh PC feature, a handy feature to quickly reset Windows settings to their defaults, the downside of the feature is that it removes all desktop programs and you need to reinstall all desktop applications all over again after performing Refresh PC operation.

If you would like to repair your Windows 8.1 installation without losing files, Windows settings, and installed apps, you can follow the given below workaround to repair the installation by keeping files, Windows settings, and installed apps.

When you repair Windows 8.1 installation by following the given below instructions, you’ll be able to retain all files, installed apps, and settings. For instance, all files and shortcuts on the desktop and all files in your Documents and pictures will be retained during the repair operation.

Warning: We recommend you backup important data before following our instructions even though the procedure doesn’t delete your data.

Step 1: Turn on your PC and boot into Windows 8.1.

Step 2: Insert your Windows 8.1 DVD into the optical drive or connect your bootable Windows 8.1 USB. And if you have Windows 8.1 ISO file, browse to the file location, right-click on it, and then click Mount option to mount the ISO file.

repair Windows 8.1 install

Step 3: Open up the Windows 8.1 install DVD, USB, or mounted ISO in This PC (My Computer), and then double-click Setup.exe file to run the installer.

repair Windows 8.1 installation without losing programs

Step 4: When you see Get important updates screen, select first option titled Download and install updates (recommended), and then click Next button to check for updates and then install, if available. The setup might restart after installing updates.

Repair Windows 8.1 installation Step1

Repair Windows 8.1 installation Step2

Step 5: In the next screen, you’ll need to enter your Windows 8.1 product key. Enter the 25-character product key before clicking the Next button.

Repair Windows 8.1 installation Step3

If for some reason, you can’t locate the product key, you can refer our how to recover Windows 8.1 product key from the Registry without using third-party tools guide.

Step 6: Accept the license agreement by checking the option titled I accept the license terms and clicking Accept button.

Repair Windows 8.1 installation Step4

Step 7: This is the important step. Here, you need to select the first option titled Keep Windows settings, personal files and apps. Click Next button to let the setup scan your computer for available disk space and other requirements.

Repair Windows 8.1 installation Step5

If the free space available on your system drive (Windows 8.1 drive) is not sufficient for the operation, you’ll be asked to free up required space before continuing further.

As we mentioned earlier, when you repair your Windows 8.1 installation by following this method, you’ll be able to retain all files, installed apps from the Store, desktop programs and Windows settings.

Please close all running applications and save your work before proceeding to the next step.

Step 8: Here, simply click the Install button to begin installing (repairing) Windows 8.1 by keeping your Windows settings, personal files and apps.

Repair Windows 8.1 installation Step6


Repair Windows 8.1 picture1

The install process might take a few minutes to hours, depending on your system configuration.

Step 9: Once setup completes installing, you’ll see the Settings screen. Here, you can either click Use express settings to go with the recommended settings or click Customize button to change default settings.

Step 10: In the next screen, you’ll be asked to enter the password of your Microsoft account that you’re using to sign-in to Windows 8.1. Type in the password and then click Next button.

Repair Windows 8.1 picture2

You might see Help us to protect your info screen where you need to select your alternate email address to receive a code that you need to enter to verify your Microsoft account.

Repair Windows 8.1 picture3

Or, you can simply click I can’t do this right now option and then click Next button to skip to the next step. You can verify your account later from PC settings.

Your PC might restart once again. That’s it! Your repaired Windows 8.1 installation is ready!


  1. says

    Of course, none of this stuff works. My brand new factory installed win8.1 pc died several days after purchase, with this ridiculous ‘auto repair’ nonsense going into an unbreakable loop. Not knowing it would destroy all my desktop files and drivers, I chose ‘refresh and keep files’, which is a grossly negligent way for MS to present options without telling the user the truth. This option destroys the desktop and drivers. But I still cannot boot into any desktop anyway.

    What total CRAP is windows 8/8.1. MS is DRIVING PEOPLE AWAY from its products. I may even go to LOONIX (L)unix, or whatever the op system from hell is currently called. ANYTHING is better than windows, even after 20 years or so using it.

  2. Amelia says

    So, I installed 8.1, hoping it would calm down the farce that is Windows 8 and now I cannot boot my BRAND NEW Alienware 17 laptop!! It says the issue is in a windows system file. Alienware refuses to assist me, putting my one year warranty to waste, and insists that I can only go to Microsoft with this issue because the OS is the problem and Alienware (and my approximately ONE MONTH old system) doesn’t support 8.1. I cannot afford to pay for Microsoft service, so I am either stuck with a broken computer or returning a brand new one. Either way, Microsoft, you need to get a clue. No one likes this OS – not everyone is going touch screen and this OS shouldn’t even be available on systems that aren’t touch screens! I am disappointed in your company and the Alienware corporation as well because you both promised and didn’t deliver. I’m sick of having to troubleshoot my way through everything.

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